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Numbers add up for La Piscine

Numbers add up for La Piscine

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Numbers add up for La Piscine

Sept. 16, 2008  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0912}

NOTE: A headshot of the Rev. Louis Telcy is available at

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

The Rev. Louis Telcy believes you have to keep inviting, no matter what, and he has the numbers to prove it.

Rev. Louis Telcy

Last year, La Piscine United Methodist Church in Naples received 51 people on profession of faith and increased average weekly worship attendance by 50 — an increase of 77 percent. That equals one new churchgoer for about every person who worshiped at La Piscine Mission during January 2007.

That’s significant growth for the two-year-old, predominantly Haitian congregation. It began in September 2006 with 15 members and now has more than 150.

Because of his efforts in helping the church grow, Telcy was named the recipient of the 2008 Grindheim-Sims Award, given by the Florida Conference Office of Congregational Transformation at this year’s Florida Annual Conference.

The award was established by Dr. Rose Sims and honors the memory and ministries of her husband, James Sims Jr., Oscar Grindheim and James Sims Sr. It is given annually to the pastor of a church with fewer than 250 members who has distinguished him- or herself through effective evangelization and church growth. The primary emphasis of the award is the number of people received on profession of faith and an increase in average worship attendance. 

Telcy said he was surprised to learn he would receive the award because he was just doing what he is called to do — over and over again.

“I invite everybody to church,” said Telcy, a graduate of Duke Divinity School and pastor of La Piscine since 2006. “I’m a volunteer with hospice at the hospital. I meet a lot of different people, and I hand out my card. If I invite 100 people, maybe two or three will come.”

Telcy says his work doesn’t end once people arrive at the church. “I work hard so that they feel at home so they can come back again and again,” he said.

Since many of the church’s members work more than one job, the mission offers services, in Creole and English, nearly every day of the week. There is a traditional worship service Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, after Bible study at 9 a.m. Additional worship services are held Wednesdays and Saturdays, and there is a day of fasting and prayer on Thursdays. The church also offers a cookout for the community once a month.

If members or people interested in the church can’t attend those services, it isn’t unusual for Telcy to make house calls to talk with people in need of prayer or celebrate the birth of a new child by attending a baby shower.

Telcy says being active in the community is important, especially since the mission doesn’t have a strong Internet presence and the majority of members don’t own computers.

La Piscine United Methodist Church began in September 2006 with 15 members and now has more than 150. The predominantly Haitian congregation serves the Golden Gate community of Naples and offers services three days a week and in both Creole and English. Photo courtesy of La Piscine United Methodist Church. Photo #08-0993. Web photo only.

“I think people have to see you practicing what you preach,” Telcy said. “You have to apply what you preach to your everyday life.”

Life for Telcy began in Haiti. After speaking out for democracy, he narrowly escaped the wrath of authorities and immigrated to America with little more than his faith. He says he leads his congregation in acts of servant evangelism where they express God’s love to people in need without expecting anything in return.

One way of doing that is helping others new to the United States with translation needs, transportation and other services so they can experience the love of Christ in action.

“I do whatever I can to help the church grow,” he said. “It is just me and my wife since I married. I don’t have a staff. I just want to reach out to people.”

Telcy wants those who attend the church to know they have found a unique place at La Piscine.

“I want them to know they have found a leader who can help them be a Christian disciple,” he said. “We will help train them to be a leader. We don’t only want them to come to church. They need to be able to reach out to other people. That’s the way the gospel can spread everywhere.”


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a freelance writer based in Seffner, Fla.