Reverend Dr. James Lewis Boatner lll was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana. He went to Ouachita High school in 2000 before transferring to and attending Richwood High School from 2001-2004. He was an All-district football player, class president, and a member of the all-state choir. Reverend Boatner considers himself the epitome of a “Christian Family Man.” He is a father and his children are the fuel of his passion. He has studied and graduated from esteemed institutions such as Liberty School of Ministry, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science, and Liberty University of VA. He obtained his Doctoral degree from Liberty University. He is the Ouachita Parish Democratic Party Executive Committee Chairman. He is also the Senior Pastor of a very loving community of faith, New Salem Missionary Baptist Church of West Monroe, LA and the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Grambling, LA.
During Reverend Boatner’s time in high school he played football and played the position of offensive tackle. After graduating high school, he received a full scholarship to University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). While in college Reverend Boatner had convinced himself that he could play football and work on his preaching and one passion would not interfere with the other. But whenever he was on the field it felt like something was tugging at his heart to be somewhere else. He felt forced to pick one or the other. There are some preachers who were able to play ball and have other secular careers that do not necessarily interfere with anything else they do. But Reverend Boatner felt like he did not have a choice when it came to the two. He had to choose one. The passion was sure and, the calling was clear, but his biggest concern along with his parents and his pastor was him being so young. They wanted to really be sure that it was not off emotionalism and it was not something just for the moment. His parents always made sure to remind him that he was making a decision at sixteen years old that would remain with him for the rest of his life. Reverend Boatner’s parents always had foresight as it relates to God calling him, so they were not necessarily shocked when he made the choice that he did. They have always raised him in the mindset of being a preacher. While the rest of his peers had a twelve O’clock curfew, he was a teenage boy with a nine O’clock curfew. The rest of my peers could go places like the mall and the skating ring, while Reverent Boatner was stuck at home studying. It was as if his future was written in the stars. His mom used to tell everyone that he was a boy wonder growing up and everyone supported him, so it did not feel strange taking this route. He was sixteen years old still in high school and was wrestling with his call to ministry. At the age of seventeen he was in his senior year in high school and he announced his calling and started preaching. He also took time to be trained and groomed by pastors in the area. Reverend Boatner was accepted by his community and it felt great. He went to a predominantly African American high school and the African American community is rooted in religion so most of his friends and classmates were churchgoers. There were some great leaders in the school as well, so every school event was opened and closed with prayer. Reverend Boatner was front and center leading every event in prayer. Reverend Boatner had a balance where he knew how to be cool and still be Christian at the same time. He never attempted throughout any portions in his life to be over religious or overly judgmental towards people. He has always been expounding in accepting the love of Christ more than anything else.
Going into sophomore year of college, Reverend Boatner decided it was time to quit the football team and move to Dallas, Texas. He transferred to the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service to study to become a mortician and a funeral director. He was also dually enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary where he received his undergrad degree. While there Reverend Boatner was able to connect with other Christians and he also served as a youth minster for the Marsalis Avenue Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Terry White. Pastor White groomed him not only as an executive pastor, but also as a businessman. A lot of his knowledge in business was gained from Pastor White and from his mom who is an excellent business person as well. Reverend Boatner graduated in 2007 with honors and became a licensed mortician and a funeral director. Shortly after graduation he went back home and his mom had just started her first business in Tallulah, Louisiana where he took an entry-level position there in the family company. In the beginning, it was just reverend Boatner and his little computer sitting in his momma’s closet hard at work. Now, thirteen years later his mother’s company has over 300 employees spading over eight parishes. Although he has a degree in pastoral counseling, he does not take a counseling role in the company. He takes on a more administrative role being the executive director and he enjoys every moment.
After moving back home from Dallas Reverend Boatner joined Pleasant Green Baptist Church in Richwood under the leadership of William Smith. William Smith trained him to be the teacher that he is today to be the student of the word. While there, he was able to meet guys like Deacon Harry Brown, Brandon Brown, Mayor Gerald Brown, and Brother Terrance Harris who has passed away now. Brandon is a state attorney now and all these guys are members of Kappa Alpha Psi. Reverend Boatner really loved the way the men dressed and carried themselves. It was so impressive, so professional, and so crisp and they just sucked him in. He knew right then that he wanted to be a part of that, and so he decided to pledge with Kappa Alpha Psi. Recently Reverend Boatner was elected to the Democratic Party executive committee and he was also elected as executive chairman in Ouachita Parish. His real passion has shifted beyond worship and church and he now has a more political view as well.
The first Sunday in October, the doors to Reverend Boatner’s church in West Monroe were opened. New Salem Baptist church is completely different in person now than it was before the pandemic. It is more of a contemporary church with predominantly young people that make up about seventy percent of the congregation. The average age of the people there are around 40 years old. We have no more than 60 or 70 people total at New Salem. As for the church in Grambling there are about 400 college age students that attend Louisiana Tech and Grambling University and there are also about 200 elderly members. They really are the base and foundation of the church. As pastor of both churches Reverend Boatner does not wish to put any of his members at risk which is why he is taking extra precaution when reopening the church doors to the public. The doors for the church in Grambling will officially open in January of 2021. As a Christian, Reverend Boatner believes that anything happens by chance everything is purposeful, and God has a reason for everything that he does. There is a lesson that needs to be learned from every situation God places us in. The global lesson for us is to watch God and to slow down. There are some of us who thought that we could not live beyond our global lives including Reverend Boatner himself. There are 52 weeks in a year and 36 of those weeks Reverend Boatner was preaching revivals which forced him to be all over the place. There were things that he thought he had to do, and it took a global pandemic for him to sit down and think about what really mattered. There are so many things that we break our necks thinking that we cannot live without and we definitely can. The message that God is giving us is to focus on the basic and the things that really matter. The things that hold true worth. God is communicating to all of us at this time in a unique and intense way.
Follow Reverend Boatner on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/james.l.boatner