Antioch Baptist Church**[1]**
310 S. 24th Street
Monroe, La.

Parent: None
Founder: Aserine Smith
Year: 1908
Longest Pastorate: The Reverend John L. Russell (26 years)
Number of Pastors 1920-2014 Five (Pastors from 1908-1919 unknown)

In 1908 Aserine Smith began started a small church which met in a Brush Arbor. It was called the Harris Chapel Baptist Church. Those instrumental in its establishment were: Brothers: Harris, Rev. Gabe Smith, Rev. W.A. Allen, Rev. Monroe White, Rev. Nelson, Rev. Chris Williams, Rev. Rodney and many others. Shortly after, the name was changed to the Antioch Baptist Church.[2]

In 1920, The Reverend John C. Rodgers was called to pastor the [[#|congregation]]. He served from 1920 to 1939. During his tenure several candidates were added to the [[#|membership including]]: Ida Martin, Jesse Jenkins, Boxselene Jenkins, Ollie Mitchell, Alberta Murphy, Beatrice Brown, Mattie Gee, Nellie Cann, Henrietta Butler and James Brown. Some of the first deacons were Brother Burks, Henry Pierce, Thomas Carter, David Jones, W.N. Cann, Walter Davis, John Henry Davis, Byrd Moy, Eddie Hall, W.M. Hedgeman, J. Bolden, Steve Mitchell and J. Hall.

In November of 1928 the church was remodeled with John Henry Davis serving as the [[#|contractor]].

In June of 1939 the church was formally incorporated under the name "Antioch Baptist Church." The corporation is managed by a six member board called the "Deacons of the Antioch Baptist Church." The deacons are to be elected every two years on the first Sunday of July beginning 1941 and every two years thereafter. The first board of deacons was comprised of: John Henry Davis, president; Elbundon Moy, vice-president; Wortham Cann, secretary; Dave Jones, treasurer, Walter Davis, and Eddie Hall. A.O. Davis and James Larkan, Jr., was witnesses.[3]

Scott, Rev. S J.jpg
Rev. S.J. Scott
The Reverend H. S. Carradine was pastor from August of 1939 to 1958 when he died. During his tenure a $1,600 note was paid off to Monroe Building [[#|and Loan]]. Later he led the congregation to erect and pay for a stone building. Members added during this time included: Milton Davis, Tom McHenry, Spencer Wilford, Lucy Wilford, P.D. Robinson, James Well, George Banks, George Washington, John Felton Della Turner Lula Sledge Kathryn Jones Ollie Mitchell Riley Solomon George, Mitchell Marlin Whims Liddie Turner Sallie Turner Napoleon, and many others. Also during this period a brotherhood was organized with the Reverend H.M. Mitchell as its president. Among the first brotherhood members were: Reuben Carter, Bernard Howard, Marlin Turner, James Anthony, and James Brown. When the Reverend Carradine became ill he was assisted by the Reverend W.L. Brannon.

In 1949 a faction of the congregation led by George Banks and the Hegewood family left the congregation and formed the Mt. Olivet Congregation.[4]

The Reverend Carradine died in 1958 at the age of 66. The Reverend H.Y. Wilson administered [[#|worship services]] for the remainder of the 1958 year.
In 1959 the Reverend Samuel Joseph Scott, Sr.[5] was elected pastor. During his tenure a lot in the rear of the church was purchased. In 1964 the church was remolded and bricked. The contractor was Watson Crane.

In January of 1965, the congregation borrowed $20,500 from People’s Homestead and Saving Association to pay for the church fixtures and equipment. At this time the deacons were: John Henry Davis, Spencer Wilford, William Hedgemon, Marlin Turner, Reuben Carter, Bernard Howard, Louis Fudge, Nathan Gray, Henry Coney, Harvey Wilson, George Snipes, James Brown, Percy Greggs, Barney Harris, and William “Jack” Johnson. The deaconesses were sisters: Henrietta Butler, Rosie Davis, Carrie Hedgemon, Lucy Wilford, Ellen Giles, Louise Jefferson, Milindy Westmoreland, Maggie Wilson, Lena Snipes, Beatrice Brown, Ollie Kelley, Leslie Greggs, Faye Mitchell, Margie Coney, Liddie Turner, and Myrtle Johnson.

In 1968 The Reverend Scott was called to pastor a congregation in California. From September of 1968 until December 1968 the congregation was without a pastor.
In January of 1969, The Reverend John L. Russell, Sr. was called to pastor the Antioch congregation. During his administration[6] a counting committee was appointed, a church bus was purchased, A Christian Education Department was organized, the church debt was resolved, a library was established, two lots were purchased and the church was renovated once again. Ministers who served as “Sons of the House”[7] under Pastor Russell included: The Reverends H.M. Mitchell, Ricky James, and Charles Rodgers Kirk Some of the deacons added during The Reverend Russell’s tenure were: Sylvester Harris, John Hall, Willie James, General Gix, Sr., Joe Smart, J.W. Broadway, Lonnie Blunt, Dave Washington, Jessie Handy, Theophilus Brown, Alonzo Benjamin, R.D. Jefferson, Thomas Boyd, Allen York, Theodore Adams, David Wright, Ronald Morris, and many others.

On September 30 1970 the charter for the church was amended with Marlin Turner filing the amendments on behalf of the church. The amendment designated September 9th in two year increments that the board of deacons would be elected beginning September 9, 1970.[8]

In early 1970 Antioch became the center of activity of the local civil rights movement. Marches and boycotts were planned and rallies staged at the facility despite the danger of repercussions from those opposed to the civil rights movement. Under the Reverend Russell the church was plunged into the forefront of the leadership of the Monroe as civic and political leaders from across the state met routinely, worshipped and strategized with members of the Antioch Congregation. An Antioch member, Theophlius Brown served on the commission to write the city charter for the City of Monroe in 1979. The Reverend Russell was named assistant mayor of the City of Monroe in the Ralph Troy Administration and Jessie Handy was elected to the Monroe City School Board.

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Rev. John L. Russell
In 1995 a dispute arose between the deacons of the church and pastor Russell that resulted in litigation in the local courts. The officers of the church were dissatisfied with the Reverend Russell and sought to call for his ouster in a meeting. There arose a legal challenge of their right to do so in that they were not the legally appointed deacons of the church. The dispute over their status resulted in a bitter court fight that divided the church.[9] Pastor Russell challenged the right of the board of deacons of the church to call any meetings because it was not legally constituted. His legal challenge was that church was chartered on June 26, 1939 and its charter was amended on September 9, 1970 stipulating election of deacons every two years and the holding of annual meetings. He contended that on July 4, 1971 the church elected: Marlin Turner, Jesse Handy, Dave Washington, Alonzo Benjamin, George Snipes and James Brown as its deacons who were to serve until their successors were duly elected and installed. Moreover, he claimed that between 1971 and 1995 all of the deacons had died except Handy and Benjamin and no election of deacons were held to fill the vacancies making it impossible for a quorum of the required six members to meet. He claimed that without a quorum the church would have to elect new officers. The defendants, according to Russell, tried to have a meeting on December 24, 1995 to hold an election of officers, but Russell maintained that they did not have the right to call any meetings since only two of the deacons had been legally elected. He claimed that the defendants created a controversy to oust him and wanted a meeting of the congregation to be set for December 31, 1995.[10]

On December 28, 1995 the defendants tried to stop the December 31, 1995 meeting by claiming that Russell was not a member of the Antioch Church and had no right to bring suit. They claimed granting Russell's request would "reduce them to a powerless state." Judge Michael Ingram issued a temporary injunction preventing the defendants from having a meeting of the board of deacons on December 24, 1995 or "any other time until there has been a duly called congregational meeting of the Antioch congregation and a board of deacons duly elected. [11]

The court fight and the ensuing ill feeling tore at the fabric of the congregation and in 1996, in, the Reverend Russell left Antioch and began the New Antioch Baptist Church.
In December of 1997 the Reverend Charles Myles elected pastor. Deacons added under pastor Myles were: Anzell Calloway, Ervin “Peter” Turner, and Marcus Jackson.
On March 29, 2003 The Reverend Frederick Zeigler was ordained as a “son of the house.”

During Pastor Myles’ tenure the church remodeled its sanctuary, began a Certificate of Progress Program, named two deans of Christian Education and certified them, began early morning worship on the 5th Sunday, purchased a new sound system, paved the parking lot, acquired a marquee began a new member’s fellowship.


[1] Official History of the Antioch Baptist Church, November 21, 2004 from church archives.
[2] Missing Years: There is no record of any pastor of Antioch prior to 1920. None of its activity during these 12 years is noted in the church’s official history.
[3] Articles of Incorporation of the Antioch Baptist Church, Ouachita Parish Courthouse, Monroe, La., File #269101
[4] Black Church Splits, Antioch splits into Mt. Olivet, Monroe Free Press, Hill
[5] Obituary of Reverend Samuel Joseph Scott, Sr: He was born to the late Henry and Sallie Scott on June 29, 1909 in Wisner Louisiana. He was called by God into the ministry in 1945 and he pastored the following churches: Cherry Hill #1 Baptist Church Mer Rouge, Louisiana; China Grove Baptist Church of Ruston, Louisiana; Fellowship Baptist Church of Simsboro, Louisiana; First Baptist Church of Rayville, Louisiana; True Light Baptist Church of Winnsboro, Louisiana; Antioch Baptist Church and the Truevine Baptist Churches, both of Monroe, Louisiana; and the Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland, California. He was accomplished in the field of masonry. He was a respected leader in the religious community as well as in the community in which he lived. He died October 11, 1992; Official Obituary notice extracted from funeral program on October 16, 1992. Services were held at the Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in Oakland, California.
//**[6]**// Influence of Antioch under John Russell: During the Administration of John Russell, Antioch became the base of much of the local civil rights and political activity in the community from 1969 through the mid 1980’s. Its members played pivotal roles in Monroe Government. Russell became assistant Mayor of Monroe in 1976, Deacon Theophilus Brown served on the city Charter Commission, R.D. Jefferson directed the city’s Public Works, and Ervin “Peter” Turner was a police juror.
[7] Sons of the House were: Refers to persons who announced their calling to the ministry. The pastor of the congregation is considered the “father” and those who begin under his administration and under his leadership are called his “sons” in the ministry. As some congregations began to accept female ministers the term has been modified to include “Sons and Daughters of the House.”
[8] Amendment to the charter of the Antioch Baptist Church, Ouachita Parish Court House, Monroe, La., September 30, 1970 and filed with the Secretary of State on October 1, 1970.
[9] Antioch Baptist Church, Inc and John Russell vs Jesse Lee Handy, Theoplish Brown and Alonzo Benjamin. Ouachita Parish Court House, Monroe, La. December 1995.
[10] IBID, petition for Injunction 1995.
[11] IBID, Order of Judge Micheal Ingram December 20, 1995.