Five years later, PTBx remains force-multiplier of faith, hope in Biloxi community
Nestled among small businesses and houses in East Biloxi on Division Street, there’s an unassuming grey and white building where people congregate. It’s not much to look at on the outside, but inside people call it transformational.
Praise Temple Church, celebrating five years on the coast, has been drawing crowds that seem to grow larger every week. The genesis behind the movement is Pastor “JK” Pickett and his spouse Natasha. “We offer a vibrant, energized place to worship and welcome all”, said Natasha, who also serves as co-pastor and chief operating officer of the church.
The Picketts, who made a military relocation to the Coast years ago, found themselves on the receiving end of call in 2014 from a bishop in Shreveport, La. who was hoping to expand Praise Temple Church and was eyeing Biloxi as a new location.
Praise Temple Biloxi, affectionately known as “PTBx” to community members, was formed in January 2015 when JK Pickett was installed as senior pastor. Their sermons include powered speakers, music, colorful lights and graphics. But their messages of love and faith are consistent, and remain the same. Since then the Picketts have continued to grow their audience and mission. PTBx calls itself the community of faith within the community and across the Gulf Coast. “We do it all,” said Natasha. “Create a haven to feed the hungry, help people physically and spiritually, provide clothes and shelter, visit the sick and imprisoned, and much, much more”.
But they acknowledge they’re not alone in their calling. The couple gives credit to the generosity of devoted followers, colleagues and friends. “There are so many people out there willing to help. We try to provide leadership and inspiration in our efforts to bring everyone together,” said Natasha, also referred as “Lady P” in close circles. “There’s a great collaborative effort from seven other churches that together we call United Fire. This makes us a force multiplier and creates a broad array of essential resources for the community,” said Natasha.
Mr. and Mrs. Pickett also credit much of their success to the robust connections they’ve made in the local area. Examples include leadership positions with the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast Business Council, and being honored by the Biloxi NAACP in 2016 and 2018 as recipients of the Dorothy Lashley Religious Award, recognizing their contributions in the area of religious affairs in the City of Biloxi.
Praise Temple Biloxi offers multigenerational worship experiences that allow families young and old to worship under one roof. “I would say 90 percent of our ministry is made up of people 30 years old and younger,” said Natasha. “We bring a contemporary yet traditional style to our worship services.”
Natasha says one of her proudest accomplishments is launching the Praise Temple’s Community Empowerment Festival, held every year in East Biloxi at John Henry Beck Park. The festival feeds nearly 1,000 people every year, provides groceries for hundreds of families, and offers insightful resources and information to everyone in attendance. Her motto: “Give, love and serve.”
For more info on Praise Temple Biloxi, visit www.praisetemplebiloxi.com