The Louisiana Baptist Convention – A Brief History
John Coulter headed south from Kentucky to the warm tropics of Louisiana, decades before the Louisiana Purchase. His family settled in Fort Miro (Morehouse Parish). He was the very first Louisiana Baptist! From small beginnings, great things are born.
Joseph Willis, the first Baptist preacher west of the Mississippi River, founded Bayou Chicot (Calvary) Baptist Church in Ville Platte. The church is still active.
A month earlier, Half Moon Baptist Church on the Bogue Chitto River in Washington Parish was organized. At that time, the land east of the Mississippi River was part of the Florida Parishes.
The Baptist State Convention of North Louisiana was organized by 13 Baptists meeting at Mount Lebanon. James Scarborough was elected president. At that time, there were 88 churches with 65 ministers and approximately 3,650 Baptists in the convention.
One of the founders was George W. Baines. He later became the president of Baylor University and his great-grandson, Lyndon Baines Johnson, became the 36th president of the United States.
An Executive Board was named and met for the first time.
The Baptist State Convention of North Louisiana changed its name to Baptist State Convention of Louisiana.
By this time, three boards had been organized to manage the programs of the convention, the Board of Domestic Missions, the Board of Education and the Sunday School Board
The Board of Foreign Missions was organized.
Louisiana Baptists restructured from four boards to one Executive Board with offices in Shreveport.
The official name was changed to Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Louisiana Baptists began the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries in Monroe. The first children were three girls.
Louisiana Baptists began Louisiana College with 19 students and three teachers.
Acadian Baptist Academy was formed. They held classes until it became Acadian Baptist Center.
In the 20’s, Louisiana Baptists began meeting the health needs of our state by founding a number of hospitals: Baptist Hospital in Alexandria, Baton Rouge General Hospital (1945), Baptist Hospital in New Orleans (1937), Beauregard Hospital in DeRidder (1946) and Bayou Sorrel Hospital in Plaquemine.
Seven Baptist Student Unions were formed on campuses all over the state.
The Louisiana Baptist Foundation was formed.
Louisiana Baptists launched French Radio broadcasts funded by Renee Broussard.
The Louisiana Baptist Convention offices were moved to Alexandria.
J.D. Grey, legendary pastor of First Baptist, New Orleans, was elected as President of the Southern Baptist Convention
The Disaster Relief Service was formed by John Winters, the director of brotherhood. It grew from a single van to a ministry with hundreds of volunteers serving every year with multiple services and strategies.
Louisiana Baptists celebrated the election of Fred Luter, Pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Prior to the Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention in 2012, David Hankins and Waylon Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Covington and then-president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, sat down to discuss God’s plans for the coming years. This providential encounter was the catalyst of an amazing idea: what if we looked to the year 2020 and worked to make a radical difference in how we do church, evangelize and disciple? This idea overwhelmingly resonated with many pastors across Louisiana who were heartbroken for their state. The idea began to grow legs.
Following the 2012 Annual Meeting, they continued to pray, develop and dream about how God could shape and renew the vision of Louisiana Baptists to reach our state and our world. This conversation broadened to include leaders from all over the state. The synergy created through prayer and planning gave birth to the 2020 vision – a strategy to radically change Louisiana by the year 2020 and beyond.
One of the outgrowths of the 2020 vision was The Pledge, an intentional, pastor-led effort to increase support for Louisiana Baptists missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program. Specific benchmarks were set to challenge and guide the churches in this endeavor. For additional information regarding the 2020 initiative, click here.
And the work continues…
The Louisiana Baptist Convention is composed of approximately 1,600 congregations with 620,000 members.