A lovely “Reception of Thanksgiving” was held recently at Hosanna Fellowship Church for Gretna Historical Society officers and board members. Located at 400 Weidman St. in McDonoghville, Hosanna Fellowship Church hosted the event to show gratitude for a restoration grant awarded to the church.

A primary purpose of the Gretna Historical Society (GHS) is the restoration and preservation of buildings and structures within Gretna that have historic value so that they are maintained for posterity.  As part of that effort, GHS considers providing supplemental grants to tax-exempt non-profit organizations to aid in the restoration and preservation of historic structures.                                   

“The Church had received recognition from the State of Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation that the church building is a contributing element to the City of Gretna Cultural District,” Gretna Historical Society Director Mal McCletchie said.                     

“A year ago, Hosanna Fellowship Church applied to GHS for such a supplemental grant to assist in extensive repairs to their sanctuary and other areas of the church structure.  After review to ensure that their application met the GHS requirements, a grant was authorized.  The church’s fundraising efforts to accomplish the significant renovations included donations from their parishioners, a Louisiana State tax credit for rehabilitation of a historic property, as well as the GHS grant,” he said.   

Hosanna Fellowship International Ministries (HFC) was born on Nov. 15, 2002 where a group of 12 gathered to fulfill the vision of a young pastor by the name of Alex Julian Bellow.                        

The pastor’s vision was to found a community-oriented church that would be involved in the civic affairs of the community and much more. He envisioned a church that would help meet more than just the spiritual needs of the people, but also support for the regular day-to-day needs of individuals and families. He wanted a church that could offer help with ordinary things like school supplies or offering use of a computer if needed or simply food when hungry.  

With no building of their own and no instruments, the energetic and sincere “12” ran with the vision.  Hosanna Fellowship officially began to worship bi-weekly at a temporary location. In April 2004, they moved to another shared building located in Marrero and a later move took them to 2131 Huey P. Long Ave. in Gretna.  

“God began to breathe upon Hosanna. Many souls were added to the Kingdom as we operated under a unique anointing,” Pastor Bellow said.

The blow to the region caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 changed life the way the pastor and the people knew it. The devastating and lingering long-term effects forced many members to rebuild elsewhere. It was during this time that the faith of Hosanna would once again be tested. There was a “gathering of the sheep” necessary at the church after the wake of the storm.  

Months after relocating, God began to impress upon Pastor Bellow the need to return home to Gretna and rebuild.  In excitement, the church returned to Huey P. Long, assisting one another with the task of rebuilding. Although grueling, this process proved to be the most rewarding act of obedience.

“It was one year following the devastating aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that our ministry solidified itself as a pillar within the Gretna community.”                                                        

Shortly before moving into her edifice, HFC forged a lasting partnership with World Vision. Through this partnership Hosanna Fellowship exemplified her mission: Connecting Unconnected People to A Christ that Cares while serving as a Host Distribution Center for those who were impacted by the storms. This was the first of many Community Outreach efforts that continue today, both locally, nationally and internationally,” he said.  

And then, at last, on Sept. 13, 2006, it was surely the Promised Land, when 400 Weidman St. in Gretna became the permanent home of Hosanna Fellowship International Ministries!  

“A decade passed and we grew. Then, we were shocked to find out in September of 2016 that one of our trusted church administrators had been engaging for a long time in fraudulent activity with the church coffers and ended up taking her own life.

“The congregation was devastated. We were in a real crisis when it was realized that the mortgage payments had not been made for several months. Five or six months later, the bank had no choice but to initiate foreclosure proceedings. Full payment was required of just under $190,000 with 30 days to make them whole.

“The prophetic winds had shifted, and we were amid our most profound and defining season. II Corinthians 4:8-9 says it best: We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed!

The words that God spoke to Pastor Bellow intensely rang: “There Will Be Challenges, But Money Will Never Be One of Them.”  

“Now more than ever did those words ring so true. As the winds of change descended upon Hosanna we’ve endured a mighty shaking, but are still standing upon a sure foundation and the promises of the Most High God,” he said.  

“We did it! With the help of God, we raised the money. We rallied and God gave us the grace to do it!  

“In 2020, I was concerned about large cracks I noticed in the ceiling of the Sanctuary, worried about the safety factor. We bought the building in 2006 and had never done any major work. Contractors said the beams weren’t spaced properly when the building was built and a restoration was needed. Thanks to the generosity of Gretna Historical, we were able to complete the ceiling restoration inside, as well as do necessary outside repairs,” Pastor Bellow said.                    

Pastor Bellow is a native of Lake Charles who resides in Waggaman with his wife Dr. Shawan O. Bellow. They have two children, Jasmine, 21 and Julianne, 14 and are also the legal guardians of 6-year-old Ja’Sani Miracle Baquet.   

Pastor Bellow owned a flourishing insurance agency from 2005-2016 that he sold so he could fully devote himself to the work of ministry. Although he experienced business success without a college education, he was still motivated to finish what he had started as a young man. He did just that, graduating with honors from Delgado Community College in 2019 with an Associate of Science in Business Administration. He then enrolled at The University of New Orleans to earn a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Community and Leadership Development. He is on track to graduate Summa Cum Laude in July 2021.

In the fall he will begin the study of law at Loyola University. His goal is to become a civil rights attorney and do work in the social justice arena.

Besides serving as the founding Senior Pastor of Hosanna Fellowship, Pastor Bellows is also the State Overseer of Louisiana and Mississippi for Mount Calvary Holy Church of America.