James Welch is the senior pastor of Harbor Community Church, based in New Orleans, Louisiana. James’s passion is to help people experience the goodness and grace that God has to offer in Jesus Christ.
James grew up in Missouri on the banks of the Mississippi river. He was raised in an entrepreneurial household where his Dad owned many businesses including movie rental stores. Growing up in retail and the public square, he developed a passion for leadership, communication, and best practices.
While James did not grow up attending church on a regular basis, he was exposed to the message of Jesus. When he was 18 years old, a close friend began praying for James and inviting him to church. During this pivotal time, James entered into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Almost immediately, James begin to share his faith and communicate Godʼs love to people. He developed a passion to help people live a life filled with wisdom, hope, and blessings. During his college years, James noticed that he didnʼt have a place to connect many of his classmates who were interested in a relationship with God. Most churches seemed to be designed with “church” people in mind.
In the late 90ʼs, James heard Andy Stanley talk about creating churches for unchurched people. Those thoughts stuck with him throughout college and seminary. Very early in his seminary education in Louisville, Kentucky, James sensed God leading him to help with the recovery effort in New Orleans, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.
Upon arriving in New Orleans, James and his family got to work gutting homes and listening to needs. In the years following Katrina, James and a group of friends started an arts center and hosted numerous small groups. During this time, they longed for a church where they could connect their unchurched family, friends, and neighbors.
In the fall of 2008, James and friends received an amazing opportunity. A declining church with a Katrina-ﬂooded facility was ready for a new start. The dream was to create an amazing new experience and redeﬁne church in New Orleans. After two years of renovations and leadership development, a group of about sixty people launched Harbor Community Church.
Today Harbor has two services on Sunday morning and numerous community groups that meet in homes throughout the region. Harbor’s goal in everything is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
James studied business at Campbellsville University, where he earned a B.S. in Organizational Management. He has also completed graduate work at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. James married his high school sweetheart, Amy. They have three children and live in the Lakefront Area of New Orleans, Louisiana.