City Spotlight: New Orleans


There’s no place like New Orleans. Forever known as the birthplace of jazz, famous for its unmatched Creole cuisine and rich in history, The Big Easy is gearing up to celebrate its 300th anniversary in 2018 with big updates.

“Some of the anticipated developments include a new airport terminal, potential expansions at the convention center, continued investment in technology and lots of new hotels,” says Cara Banasch, MBA, senior vice president of business development and strategy at New Orleans CVB. About 19,000 guest rooms are currently located within 1 mile of the 3.1-million-sq.-ft. New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

“Many [meeting] professionals choose New Orleans because attendance is higher here,” she says, noting the city’s meetings business is currently at a 20-year high. “It is a place people want to come back to again and again.” Only in NOLA can attendees spend downtime listening to live jazz on Frenchmen Street, binging on beignets at Cafe Du Monde, exploring The National WWII Museum or taking in the beauty of the Mississippi River aboard Steamboat Natchez. Find out what’s ahead for the city and why faith-based planners have so much love for New Orleans.


Mark Kiessling, program director for LCMS National Youth Gathering (a triannual five-day event for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod), didn’t rest on his laurels when he brought 25,000 youth attendees, adult leaders and volunteers to New Orleans for the event in July. “In some ways, New Orleans is a home away from home,” says Kiessling, noting this year marks the fourth time NYG has met in The Big Easy.

General assemblies and the closing-night session were held at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, while New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center played host to Bible studies, exhibitions and experiential learning setups, where youth got hands on about the intersection of life and faith.

“The facilities are great for [any] type of event,” says Kiessling, adding his group used approximately 50 downtown hotels. “The city gives you flexibility as a faith-based organization to serve your constituents.”

To give back to the community, about 11,000 teens from the conference helped underserved local schools prepare for the upcoming school year, visiting nursing homes and collecting food for Second Harvest Food Bank.

Photo credit: LCMS


New Orleans may be in the midst of a renaissance, but when it comes to food, why mess with a good thing? Famous for its mouthwatering Cajun cuisine, the Crescent City has several local must-try dishes. Here’s where to find them.

1. Beignets

What it is: Deep-fried pastry topped with powdered sugar, aka a French doughnut Where to find them: Cafe Du Monde; Cafe Beignet; Morning Call Coffee Stand


2. Bananas Foster

What it is: Flaming dessert with bananas, ice cream, dark rum, sugar and spices Where to find it: Brennan’s (origin); Arnaud’s; The Court of Two Sisters


3. Muffuletta

What it is: Sandwich with salami, ham, provolone and a spicy olive spread diced with celery, cauliflower and carrot Where to find it: Central Grocery (origin); Cochon Butcher; Alberto’s Cheese & Wine Bistro


4. Oysters Rockefeller

What it is: Oysters on the half shell topped and baked with capers, parsley and Parmesan Where to find them: Antoine’s Restaurant (origin); Galatoire’s Restaurant; Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar


5. Jambalaya

What it is: Hearty dish with andouille sausage; a mix of vegetables such as celery, bell peppers, carrots and tomatoes; seafood or chicken; and long-grain rice Where to find it: Coop’s Place; K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen; Royal House Oyster Bar


See who’s met in New Orleans this year and who’s on the books.

> Sent 2016, Mennonite Church USA March

> Fresh Grounded Faith, Jennifer Rothschild Ministries April

> 44th International Holy Convocation, Church of God in Christ United August

> Defend, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary January 2017

> The Society of Christian Ethics Annual Meeting January 2017


Storied buildings tell a new tale in New Orleans as fresh hotel brands move into them. Here's the starting lineup:

Photo credit: Fresh Grounded Faith, Jennifer Rothschild Ministries


Three major projects are expected to revitalize the city.

1. Construction is underway on a nearly $1 billion development at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. The project will add a 760,000-sq.-ft. North Terminal to the grounds, along with a 2,000-space parking garage and a $17 million hotel, in October 2018.

2. A 47-acre mixed-use development surrounding New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is in the pipeline for the next several years. The nearly $3.5 billion Convention Center District Development (or C2D2) is projected to attract and accommodate 4 million new visitors annually and will include a 1,200-room convention headquarters hotel, a multimodal transportation hub, and a river walk with shops, restaurants, museums and galleries.

3. North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue Streetcar, opened this fall, runs along the edge of the French Quarter and connects four of the city’s most historic neighborhoods: Treme, Marigny, St. Roch and Bywater. Each ride costs $1.25.