The story of the First Pentecostal Church of New Orleans begins with the life of a boy that would grow up to be mightily used of God. On March 2, 1905, John Baptist Thomas was born to Cornelia Chaisson and John Wiley Thomas. On October 4, 1924 at 19 years of age, John Thomas was filled with the Holy Spirit and accepted his call into the ministry.
Quickly growing in ministry, in 1924 not long after being born again, he became pastor of the First Pentecostal Church of Batson, Texas. Five years later, Pastor Thomas answered the call to the mission field, going to Baghdad, Iraq where he served as a missionary until 1933. Returning to the United States in 1933, he pastored in New York City until 1937 when he left for Memphis, Tennessee.
Upon his arrival to the city of New Orleans in 1940, he encountered a Southern port city that was desperate for spiritual revival. It was on the streets of New Orleans with very little money to his name when the Lord clearly spoke to John Baptist Thomas, instructing him to plant "a church at the gates of hell." And that he certainly did. In 1940, he established the First Pentecostal Church of New Orleans, which has since that day been known by many near and far as "The church with a heart in the heart of New Orleans."
Pastor Thomas was a noted poet, songwriter and artist whose drawings appeared for many years in the Louisiana Challenger magazine and his most memorable work is the mural painting that even today frames the baptistry of the First Pentecostal Church of New Orleans. Some of his most noted songs are My Heart's Desire and In Arabia's Lonely Desert, a song wrtten from the wellspring of his missionary experiences in Iraq. A unique and gifted man, perhaps the works that typified his emphasis on eternal things more than any other were his poems, Five Minutes After I Die and I'm Just Not Able.
Under his progressive leadership, in 1954, the current facilities of the First Pentecostal Church were built by volunteer labor of the men and women of the church. Their legacy has lived on as many of their families continue to form the backbone of FPC today.
In his 24 years as Pastor John Thomas' ministry was responsible for helping establish First Pentecostal Church of the West Bank in Marrero, New Life Tabernacle in Metairie, First Pentecostal Church of Kenner, First Pentecostal Chuch of Chalmette, First Pentecostal Church of Slidell, and Word Aflame Pentecostal Church of Buras.
Upon his passing on April 16, 1966, Pastor John Baptist Thomas left behind a church and family that loved him dearly, including three sons in the Gospel whose ministries would have an impact worldwide- Rev. Fred Hyde, founding pastor of the First Pentecostal Church of Slidell, missionary to Southeast Asia, and founder of Spirit of Freedom Ministries; Rev. Allan Oggs, noted preacher and author; and Rev. John Cupit, his successor as pastor of the First Pentecostal Church of New Orleans.
In 1965, Rev. John Raymond Cupit became pastor and went on to lead FPC for 49 years. Pastor Cupit and his family had previously started First Pentecostal Church of Chalmette and First Pentecostal Church of Gretna where they pastored for five years. The church remains thriving today as The First Pentecostal Church of the West Bank in Marrero, pastored by Rev. M.K. Sartin.
After returning to the FPC New Orleans where he was raised as a young man, the church experienced great growth and revival under the anointed leadership of Pastor Cupit. FPC New Orleans quickly established a legacy worldwide as a church with a passion for souls and a heart for North American and World Missions.
Pastor Cupit was instrumental in the formation of the Black Evanglism Ministry of the United Pentecostal Church International (now known as Building the Bridge) as well as the establishment of the Apostolic Outreach Center in New Orleans with Pastor Daniel T. Brown. Upon Pastor Brown's passing in 1982, Pastor Cupit took the pastorate of the Apostolic Outreach Center, pastoring both the AOC and FPC New Orleans for 22 years.
Active in leadership in the North American Missions and Foreign Missions divisions of the United Pentecostal Church International, Pastor Cupit was internationally known for his burden for missions. Upon the catastrophic events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he faithfully led the spiritual and physical rebuilding of the First Pentecostal Church of New Orleans.
Under Pastor Cupit's visionary leadership, he and his wife, Londa founded New Orleans Christian Academy, a pre-K through 12th grade Christian school in the heart of New Orleans. New Orleans Christian Academy has under the leadership of Sister Londa Cupit and school superintendent, Michael Reichert been an integral part of the academic and spiritual success of children at FPC and in the Mid City neighborhood for 34 years.
As it was with his predecessor, from the beginning of Pastor John Cupit's tenure as pastor until his passing in November of 2013, churches were started across the greater New Orleans Metro area as a result of Pastor Cupit's passion for souls. Two sons in the Gospel of Pastor Cupit honor his legacy by pastoring growing revival churches today- Rev. Raymond Watson- Apostolic Outreach Center in New Orleans and Rev. Richard Dykes- Buna United Pentecostal Church in Buna, Texas. The most recent church plant from FPC New Orleans is La Vina de New Orleans led by Pastor Joseph Zambrano, originally a Spanish daughter work that became an autonomous church plant in December of 2014.