Mike and Paula Walker celebrated 35 years of ministry at The Bayou Church this evening.
Joined by friends and family at Le Pavillion, the event celebrated their accomplishments at the south Lafayette church.
"God has been using Pastor Mike and Paula to transform lives in Acadiana for 40+ years. The length of time they've served in one place is remarkable, but more incredible is the scale of the impact they've made. They have served, cared for, and led thousands of people to the power of a relationship with Jesus Christ and helped them understand God's Word in a way that is relevant not just for Sundays, but every day of the week and in every area of life. Acadiana will never be the same because of how God has used Mike and Paula Walker here," says Sean Walker, pastor of the church.
Walker graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and served 14 years as a student pastor. In 1984, he was asked to take over the role of senior pastor for what, at the time, was a country church on a two-lane road. The church was East Bayou Baptist Church, and that two-lane road was Kaliste Saloom.
Walker's plan was to transform lives in Acadiana through Christ-centered relationships. He and his wife, Paula, started with a strategy that focused on families. In their first three years, the church tripled in size.
Now, 35 years later, after many expansion projects, surviving the oil and gas recession and taking big steps to rid the church of all debt, The Bayou Church has more than 2,100 attendees gathering weekly, church officials say. Over his years at the church, Walker has been pastor to more than 4,000 people and more than 3,000 people have been baptized there.
Walker has led mission trips around the world including South Korea, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico and most recently, Dominican Republic. He pastors student athletes and coaches around Acadiana, and has served in leadership for the Evangeline Baptist Association, Louisiana College, and Southern Baptist Convention.
"Mike had a vision to see lives transformed in Acadiana, and we are blessed as a church to have had his leadership for the past 35 years," says Bret Lofton, Chairman, Board of Trustees.