HISTORY OF THE EVERGREEN BAPTIST CHURCH

Evergreen Baptist Church owes its origin to God, and a Reverend McDonald, an evangelist of Atlanta, Georgia. He came to Lake Charles in 1874, and he was inspired by divine influence to preach to the people of the community. Services were held in the various homes.

Later, property located at Kirkman and Cleveland Streets was given to the people by Judge W. H. Haskell, to be used as church property. Whenever it ceased to be used by the church, it was to be returned to the Haskell heirs. A small building was erected on this property, and Rev. McDonald named the church "Evergreen Baptist".

The first baptismal service was held on the second Sunday in January, 1875. Seven converts baptized: Mrs. Zelia Foreman, Mrs. Caroline Wiley Lee, Mrs. Chaney Allen (Rev. M. M. Cuby’s oldest aunt), Mr. Henry Williams (youngest brother of the late Mrs. Celeste Ellis), Mrs. Cora Lee Sams Hinds (mother of the late Mrs. Mary Moultrie), Mr. Johnnie Sams and Mrs. Mary Sams Moultrie, all of whom are deceased.

In 1886 Rev. McDonald returned to his home. Rev. Giles North was called to pastor the church in 1887. His first baptism consisted of 32 men. Among these candidates were the late Brothers I. J. Gabriel, J. L. Rayon, Tom Clayton, and Isaac Harris. This baptizing was held in Calcasieu Lake, behind the courthouse.

Under the pastorage of Rev. North, the membership increased, and a new building was erected. It was of frame structure and was located on the Kirkman Street property. However, Rev North became ill during the erection of the new building. The members under the leadership of the deacons and officers, completed the work. On Sunday, May 17, 1896, the cornerstone was laid without the presence of the pastor. On Tuesday, May 19, 1896, the Rev. North passed away. He was funeralized in the church that he had build, but had not preached in it. His body was taken to New Orleans for burial.

There were two other ministers called to pastor the church. Their ministry was very short. They were Rev. J. H. Leonard and a Rev. Lopez.

In the year of 1899, Rev. Taylor Fryerson, D.D., from Pearlington, Mississippi, and a staunch Baptist leader, was called to pastor our church. Many young converts were added to the membership. Religious education was included in the new pastor’s program. In 1912, Rev. Fryerson had a foresight and after careful observation of the church’s location, he thought it better for all concerned to move the building to another location. After negotiating with the Haskell heirs concerning the property, a quit-claim deed was signed by the heirs. Following this transaction, we could then sell the property.

In a business meeting, the majority of the members voted to move the church to its present location. The building was brick-veneered and the interior was renovated. In 1918, the church was destroyed by a storm, and it was rebuilt in 1919.

Rev. Fryerson pastored the Evergreen Baptist Church for twenty-nine years, 1899-1928. He was made pastor emeritus; he died on February 2, 1929. The church mourned with his family the passing of our pastor.

 

Succeeding Rev. Fryerson was Rev. William Hicks, B.A., B.D., D.D., an eminent minister of Shreveport, Louisiana. He was called pastor our church in 1928. He served well and many converts were united with the church. Rev. Hicks strongly emphasized Christian education and worked ardently in fostering Bible training among our members as well as among the ministers of the city. He served us for seven years and resigned his duties here on December 8, 1935.

Succeeding Rev. Hicks was Rev. W. J. Moore, B.Th., D.D., who was called in July, 1936. The illustrious Dr. Moore was a loyal, consecrated and fully capable minister. He was a devoted and lovable pastor who cared for his membership and for the peoples of the world.

Rev. W. J. Moore pastored Evergreen for 28 years. Under his wise and spiritual leadership, tremendous strides were made and are vividly reflected in numerous accomplishments. In1941, an educational annex was added to the church at the cost of $7,500, including furniture and fixtures. This expansion broadened the work of the Sunday Church School whose superintendent was the late Professor W. O. Boston, who worked with Pastor Moore. Being both a progressive and an aggressive pastor, Dr. Moore proposed a complete renovation of the church in order to make it more comfortable and inviting edifice to its members and to all that would enter its doors.

The officers and members supported the pastor in his decision of renovation. The following persons were appointed to the building committee: The late deacon S. J. Young, Chairman, the late Deacons J. T. Graves and Benjamin Geyen, Sr., Deacons M. B. Polk, and Lee A. Bell, Mesdames E. E. Cohen and the late Zelia C. Hartman. This committee worked together in peace and harmony, which brought about real results in our building program.

The cost of this undertaking, including fixtures and interior decorating was $39,884.86. The central heating and cooling system cost $10,547.06. All of the other physical improvements, including the educational annex, totaled $57,931.92. Only a God-sent, God-led and devout Christian minister could have led his flock into such concrete realization. Such a leader was Dr. Moore.

Under Dr. Moore’s leadership auxiliaries included the following: Nine-member Trustee Board, Sunday Church School, Baptist Training Union, WMU, Brotherhood, Senior and Junior Usherboards, Deacon and Deaconess Boards, six music organizations, Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops, and an active jail-house ministry. Each department was under the direction of Christian workers, and Dr. Moore was ex-officio.

The spiritual welfare of the church is our major objective. Through Dr. Moore’s leadership and influence, many, many converts were added to our church. The church’s membership rose to 383. Through his leadership the church developed a single treasury, and was financed by tithes and free-will offerings.

Rev. W. J. Moore remained very dutiful to his church and community though his health failed and was later called home to his Heavenly Father on September 29, 1964. The church is very thankful for the success and achievements made by Rev. Moore through God. The church mourned his passing for 30 days. Following Rev. Moore’s death, Rev. G. M. Pinkney, the assistant pastor, ministered to the needs of the church.

The church named a Pulpit Committee for the purpose of recommending a minister to follow the late Rev. Moore. The Rev. A. L. Davis of New Orleans, Louisiana recommended Rev. Arthur A. Robinson, Jr., and the church voted to accept Rev. Robinson as its minister. Rev. R. A. Robinson was called to Evergreen in April, 1965, and remained until January, 1966.

Another Pulpit Committee was appointed and Rev. J. J. Spane of Alexandria, Louisiana was voted to pastor Evergreen. Rev. Spane’s ministry began in November, 1966. Through Rev. Spane’s divine Christian leadership the following noticeable accomplishments occurred: many souls were won for Christ, the exterior of the church was painted, the institution of a Savings Time Certificate, folding doors were installed, the annexation of a lady’s lounge, the installation of glass doors in the vestibule, purchasing of a mimeograph machine, installation of fire extinguishers, adoption of an accurate record system and the bonds were retired before maturity.

Rev. Spane recognized the Christian involvement and dedication shown by some deceased members and named various auxiliaries of the church after them. They were Circle No. 1, Mary Moultrie, Circle No. 2, Sarah Geyen, Circle No. 3, J. L. Hayes, and Circle No. 4, Jeannette Mouton, and Blanche Page Matrons.

Rev. Spane served Evergreen for six years from November, 1966 through February, 1972. At the time of his resignation, the church was in excellent financial standing. Evergreen is proud and thankful to God for the work and spiritual guidance rendered by Rev. Spane.

Rev. McKeever Edwards of Sulphur, Louisiana, began assisting Rev. Spane in the ministry of Evergreen and remained through April 14, 1972. During this time, Evergreen was instrumental in providing the ordination of Rev. Edwards.

Following the ordination of Rev. Edwards, another Pulpit Committee was appointed with the responsibility of recommending a pastor and providing necessary housing.

Rev. William Clark Ellison of Dallas, Texas, was recommended, accepted and came to Evergreen June 11, 1972. He was a graduate of Bishop College, Dallas, Texas and was recommended by the Department of Religion of Bishop College. He brought to us rich pastoral experiences gained at the St. John Baptist Church of Decatur, Texas, and the Friendship Baptist Church of Navasota, Texas. The Pulpit Committee and Deacon Board were instrumental in recommending a parsonage to the Church. The church voted and purchased the parsonage which is located at 2700 Pineview.

Rev. Ellison came to Evergreen as an organizer, builder, civic-minded, and most of all a God-sent man. Rev. Ellison won many souls for Christ. Under his pastorage the Desmore property was purchased, the church was reroofed, new organ and audio-visual equipment were purchased, a radio ministry, outreach programs: SWAT (Soul Winning Action Team) and Operation Blessing (clothing for the needy), Male Chorus, bus ministry, van ministry, church council, membership orientation, Board of Trustees, Building Planning Committee, Public Relations Committee, Church Council and recreation program was instituted. A Bible fellowship class, Sanctuary Choir, E.I.S. Choral Ensemble, Live Mid-Day Service, Elizabeth Cohen Matrons, and the Linda Pujo YWA were organized. Evergreen Seminary Extension Center, Educational and Day Care Center were constructed at a cost of $250,000.00, which was paid for upon completion. Nine men were called to the ministry, one ordained as a minister and approximately 400 persons were united with the church. Bro. Alfread G. Mouton was appointed Minister of Music. As a part of his ministry, professional Christian athletics were brought to Evergreen. Rev. Ellison faithfully served until an unfortunate car accident. He died March 12, 1988. At the demise of Rev. Ellison, the church was debt free and there were ample funds on hand for the further advancement of the church for kingdom building.

Another Pulpit Committee was elected and Rev. Arthur Ben Faust, a Morehouse graduate was called to pastor Evergreen on January 23, 1989. He instituted a tutorial program, the young adult choir "Echoes of Praise" and the "Beatrice Holloway Endowed Scholarship Fund Program was presented and accepted. Brother Victor O. Green was appointed Minister of Music. On January 15, 1993, Rev. Faust tendered his letter of resignation.

The Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church of Lake Charles was formed into a corporation to acquire and enjoy the rights, privileges and powers of a non-profit religious corporation as permitted by the laws of the state of Louisiana. A committee was formed to handle the proper filing of the church’s Charter. All legal documents were recorded in Baton Rouge, June 1, 1993, and filed with the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Courts, June 29, 1993, under the chairmanship of Alfread G. Mouton, Chairman of the Trustee Board.

Another Pulpit Committee was elected and August, 1993, Rev. Barry W. Thomas became pastor. The Educational Referral Center and the purchase of land for additional parking were instituted, along with the annual Church Picnic. During Rev. Thomas’ pastorage, the Rev. Henry Green, Jr. was called and licensed in the ministry.

Evergreen adopted as its motto—"For the People had a mind to work", and through the vision of Rev. Thomas, plans for a new sanctuary were discussed. The church accepted the plans, a new edifice was erected from the ground up, and the official dedication was August 25, 1996. Rev. Thomas ended his tenure as pastor the early part of 1996.

During the interim when the family was without a shepherd, Rev. William Miller and Rev. Robert L.Perryman, Sr., conducted services. We are blessed to have these senior ministers who continue to play an active role in the church’s ministry under the leadership of our present pastor, the Rev. Robert E. Campbell, Jr.

The Lord led Rev. Campbell to offer his services to the Evergreen Baptist Church and those services were accepted on May 12, 1997. Rev. Campbell, the son of a Baptist minister, was educated in the public schools of Beaumont, Texas, and attended Bishop College. He served the West Beulah Baptist Church and other churches in Beaumont as an accomplished musician. Rev. Campbell accepted the call to the ministry on April 13, 1986, and was ordained February 4, 1990. He was the faithful pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church for seven years.

Pastor Campbell appointed, with the approval of the church family, Brother Alfread G. Mouton as chairman of the 125th Church Anniversary. The year was celebrated with many and various activities. Examples of these activities are: the publication of THE LEAVES OF EVERGREEN a compilation of historical documents, pictures, and directory. The Church Directory was compiled by Sister Bernadine Batiste. The Youth Musical, July 11, was chaired by Sister Etherine Ellison and the Adult Musical, July 31, was chaired by Sister Mary June Schexnayder. The Church Pageant was chaired by Sisters Avonda Mouton and Billie Williams and the named royalty were Sister Marguerite Jones as MRS. EVERGREEN, Brother Johnnie Mouton, MR. EVERGREEN, and Sister Sedonia Staves, QUEEN OF ROSES, The Prayer Retreat and Picnic were chaired by Sister Bernice Lewis and Brother Robert Schexnayder. An Anniversary Quilt with squares representing the church families was chaired by Sister Ivy Mouton. The Parade was chaired by Brother Lionel Holloway with Sister Mary June Schexnayder as Parade Marshall. On August 15, the church history was presented in dramatic format with Sisters Dedrie Semien and Bridgette Williams as authors; the Memorial Services were conducted by Sister Marguerite Jones and the Soul Food Dinner chaired by Sister Lydia Beloney and the Hospitality Committee. Pastor Campbell conducted the Revival with Reverend Kevin Donaldson, Pastor of the New Sunlight Baptist Church as the guest minister. Time Capsule was buried to be removed 2024. Sister Karen Hebert chaired the 125th Anniversary Birthday Party. As a result of this effort, the mortgage was reduced by $11,000.00; adult members being requested to donate $125 and child $1.25.

Pastor Campbell is developing and expanding the church fellowship, Bible Study, membership growth and the young usher board, called The Shepherd’s Helpers. A new marquee was added to the facilities. The SOS (Sisters Offering Service) was established in 2008, Sister Eunice Campbell, Leader. The Evergreen family is being blessed to be led by Rev. Campbell as we celebrate One hundred thirty-five years of service.

 

 

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