Prior to coming to New Orleans in August of 2007, Pastor JB Watkins and his wife Stephanie resided in the city of Memphis, Tennessee. At the time, pastor Watkins served as a youth director at a local inner-city church while Stephanie taught in the public school system. With no intention of leaving Memphis, in early 2007 the Watkins received a call one day from a few local residents of the St. Roch Community about the possibility of moving to New Orleans, Louisiana, to plant a new church. While reluctant at first, JB and Stephanie agreed to make a visit to New Orleans and the St. Roch community to see first hand as to whether or not such a calling was indeed for them. JB and Stephanie had the opportunity to meet with community residents, tour the neighborhood, and not to mention, partake in some great eating experiences. The Watkins were fed all the gumbo, poboys, crawfish, and shrimp they could stomach. They were even treated to a nice night at one of the local jazz clubs. JB and Stephanie would be the first to say that they were indeed spoiled on this initial trip. That being said, the Watkins were also made witnesses to many of the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina still lingering in the St. Roch Community at the time (i.e. blighted housing, abandoned schools, an abundance of people still living in FEMA trailers, the presence of state troopers still patrolling the streets, etc.). Upon their return to Memphis, JB and Stephanie had much to ponder. While still reluctant in many ways, JB and Stephanie through much prayer, some counsel, and a second visit, decided to make the move to New Orleans believing the call of God to be upon their lives regarding this new and frightening endeavor. Thus in August of 2007, JB and Stephanie packed up their few belongings and officially made the move to New Orleans to begin this new church plant that would come to be known as the St. Roch Community Church.
Upon moving to New Orleans, JB and Stephanie hit the ground running regarding the new church plant. There were Bible studies and prayer meetings to be had. There were also neighbors to be met in addition to many other things that come with the starting of a new church. One major event in the life of the Watkins upon their move to New Orleans was the birth of their first child in January of 2008. Bryant, now 6, would be the first of three children born to JB and Stephanie during their ministry in New Orleans. Following Bryant would come their daughter Sydney, now 5, and here recently another son named Langston who just turned 5 months. While JB spends his time pastoring the church and challenging his congregants to be actively engaged in the community, Stephanie is currently teaching in the Orleans Parish school system. The oldest two children (Bryant and Sydney) are now in school while the youngest (Langston) spends some of his time in daycare.
When the Watkins are not in school or at the church, they love to spend their time watching Bryant at his football games, Sydney at her gymnastic classes, or just strolling through City Park. Having been in New Orleans 7 years thus far, the Watkins are extremely grateful to be in the St. Roch Community and are quite excited about what God has planned for the future.
One of the more exciting things occurring for the Watkins family is the fact that they will soon become first time homeowners. During their stay in New Orleans, the Watkins have been living in church owned property located right next to the church. Now with a growing family and a desire to further invest their dollars in the St. Roch Community, the Watkins will soon have a home to call their own. Through a collaboration of the St. Roch Community Development Corporation and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, the Watkins family will purchase a newly built habitat home. JB and Stephanie have long admired habitat’s work along with their homes and are extremely excited about becoming apart of the habitat family. Through their partnering with Habitat, and their purchasing of a home located in the neighborhood of their ministry services, the Watkins’ commitment to the community has been strengthened and renewed as they have been further enabled to engage in the work God has called them to. This is indeed an exciting time for the Watkins family and they are grateful for the role Habitat has played.