Our Heritage

Sanctuary began in 2001 as a group of Pentecostal believers, lead by David Smith, planted a new Spirit-filled nondenominational church in Jena, Louisiana. As the people grew, they founded Sanctuary Full Gospel Church and eventually bought an old Methodist church building on Jackson Street in downtown Jena. Believers consisted of United Pentecostals, Baptists, Assemblies of God, and more but each looked for a genuine Spirit-filled church full of grace and free of religiosity. Soon the Lord provided an open door for a long-term pastor. Rev. Eddie Thompson, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, accepted the call to interim at Sanctuary and was soon elected as senior pastor in 2006.

The identity and heart of Sanctuary was realized and Sanctuary Family Worship Center was born. Over the next seven years, Pastor Eddie led Sanctuary in new seasons of growth and revival. The church grew in number and deep relationships, as many more came to experience the freedom and grace of God. Sanctuary’s unique identity formed as a church who really cared for the broken, loved the loveless, and desired a change from the status-quo of religiosity. During hard times in Jena’s history, Pastor Eddie was known for crossing cultural and religious lines to bring unity in the Kingdom of God. While keeping true to its interdenominational identity, Sanctuary earned a “cooperative” status with the Louisiana Assemblies of God and joined the LaSalle Parish Ministerial Alliance. Then, in August of 2013 Pastor Eddie suddenly passed away and received His eternal reward, leaving behind a great legacy of love in central Louisiana.

Desiring to continue in the unique mission of God for Sanctuary, the church prayerfully sought the Lord. God already began the process of sending Rev. M. Heath Harris, a young Assemblies of God minister, from Missouri to continue His work in central Louisiana. As the Spirit led, Pastor Heath accepted the call to pastor Sanctuary in January, 2014. His desire is to build upon and grow the unique heritage of Sanctuary, continuing the work of God in central Louisiana to reach the world. His heart is to make servant-leaders of those who are seeking hope in Christ, freedom from religiosity, and who desire a radical relationship with God’s Spirit. Pastor Heath’s passion is discipleship and he has a unique vision for God’s Church to reach those who are lost in darkness.

Today, the mission of Sanctuary Family Worship Center is to walk with God’s Spirit to complete His redemptive mission in GRACE, LOVE, and TRUTH. We are experiencing a great season of growth as God pours out His blessings and we are believing for greater things ahead!

We’re not just another church…