Baptist Churches are the core of the African-American religious community in Ouachita Parish. The origins of many of the churches can be traced to one single congregation as the First Colored Baptist Church of Monroe. There are several other churches in the area which are older than First Baptist, that were started independent of any splits. The following list is not a complete listing of all local Baptist congregations but it represents all known Baptist groups and their off springs.

First Baptist Roots
The First Colored Baptist Church in Monroe began shortly after slavery ended in the parish, in 1869. A group of Negroes met in a building on Adams Street (Now known as St. James U.M.E.) to organize themselves into a church with the assistance of a Baptist minister from New Orleans. On July 5, 1869, Hippolite Filhiol sold the group a 20X40 frame structure to be used as a place ofworship for the sum of $276.00. It was located on North 8th Street. The land was sold for the purpose of building a school, according to the bill of sale. A year later a church was built. After 20 years of worship First Baptist was incorporated in 1890 with the Reverend Perry Jackson as its pastor. It was called the "First Colored Baptist Church" of Ouachita Parish. While it was called First Colored there were a few others in the parish, but none were moving as fast as "First Colored."

Beginning of the Splits

First Baptist was the primary source of religious, civic and political activity for the Negro community. It was the training ground for much of the Black leadership. Given this situation it was only a matter of time before rivalry for the leadership of Ouachita's most prestigious church for Negroes would develop.Rev. Perry Jackson was described as an able preacher and church politician but he found it difficult to contain zelous associates in the church ministry and resultingly by 1879 the first split developed in the First Colored Baptist Church.

First Baptist Splits into Zion Traveler (1879)

According to church records, two deacons: Duncan Hill and Sandy Bird left first Baptist Church in the heat of an argument and took one of its zealous ministers, Reverend William Hamilton as the pastor of a new church they formed called ZION TRAVELER. It was known as the "Second Baptist Church."

First Baptist Splits into Zion Hill (1889)

Ten years after the first split another faction of First Colored Baptist split and started the Zion Hill Third Baptist Church. This faction was led by Duprey Dixon, Mose Jones and Mary A. Cook. They elected The Reverend H.Y. Flynn as their pastor.

First Baptist Splits into Tabernacle (1895)

Six years later Madison Wright, George Zed and others led another faction away from First Colored and began "Saw Dust Chapel" which was later named Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church.

First Baptist Splits into Liberty Hill (1930's)

The splits continued at First Colored ending finally with the forming of the Liberty Hill congregation in the 1930's by Sims Walter,W.D. Wright, Andrew Whitfield and others. Liberty Hill met in the Old Liberty Night Club and was pastored by the Reverend E.L. Brunson. By the 1930's church splits were a common occurence. The common solution to resolve disputes in many instances was to form a new congregation. The early splits were not doctrinal based, but were internal in nature. The new churches that formed shared the same basic religious beliefs as the parent churches. It wasn't until the last 20 years that doctrinal differences prompted church splits. Many of the churches in the local community today are direct results of splits that developed in the 1930's and 40's. Many of the families of these church founders are still towering figures in the leadership of the churches their fore-fathers founded. In some cases, the founders of many split congregations are still alive today.

More Splits

Here is a brief listing of several local church splits according to prominent churchmen and church records:

Zion Traveler Splits into Triumph (1932)

Probably the first of the big church splits came in the aftermath of a bloodbath battle at a church meeting at Zion Travler in the 1930's which resulted in the shooting of Patsy Daniels and another man. Faction of the church split and formed the Triumph Baptist Church with The Reverend W.W. Hill as pastor. The split was a major blow for Zion Traveler. The Reverend Hill was one of the best known preachers in the state. He was president of the Lousiana Baptist State Convention and a towering figure in the National Baptist Convention.

Zion Hill Splits into Jehovah's Witnesses

A group left the Zion Hill Third Baptist Church in a doctrinal dispute. It was led by Mr. C.L. Hester. He began the Negro Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Greater New Hope Splits Into Newlight

In the 1930's, Rev. Simmons led a faction from Greater New Hope Baptist Church to form the NEWLIGHT Baptist Church. The group was ledby the McLarys and Custers.

Newlight splits into Mt. Calvary

The same Reverend Simmons who helped form the Newlight congregation is alleged to have led a faction from Newlight along with the Chatman family and started the MT. CALVARY Baptist Church.

Newlight Splits into New Bright Star

Shortly after there was another split in Newlight and the NEW BRIGHT STAR congregation was formed.

Old St. James Splits into New Hope/New St. James

A faction left Old St. James and started a new church called NEW HOPE. It was later called "Greater New Hope." Another split occured in the Old St. James congregation when the Goins, Richardson and Sharp families left which resulted in the New St. James Congregation with the Reverend P.E. Holster.

St. Mary Splits into Evening Star/Rose of Sharon

A faction split from the St. Mary congregation led by the Franklin family and others. It established the EVENING STAR Baptist Church under the Reverned Charlie Nash. Additionally a short while later pulled out with Reverend A.S. Jackson and joined the faultering efforts of a Reverend Gipson at the ROSE OF SHARON Baptist Church. According to sources, Rev. Gipson had tried and failed at organizing the group, Jackson succeeded and the congregation began.

Logtown Splits into Cuba/Union

During the same period Russ and Eli Page and others led a faction from Logtown's congregation and started the CUBA congregation. Later a groupsplit and began the UNION BAPTIST congregation.

Hopewell splits into Goodhope/Mezpah

Richard Thoner led a faction from the Hopewell Baptist congregation to begin the Good Hope congregation along with Samptons, Nash and Powell Families. Later Thorner led a group from Good Hope to form the MEZPAH congregation.

Galilee splits into New Galilee

Factionalism in the Old Galile country congregation led to the split and formation of the NEW GALILEE congregation under Reverend Woodrow Vernon.

Peter Rock split into St. Paul

The A. Hennings family and others left the Peter Rock congregationand formed the St. Paul congregation.

Mt. Zion splits into Macedonia

A group of Mt Zion members including the Williams, Edwards, Kilson Jacobs, London, Ross, Murray, Pollard and Owens families left and formed the MACEDONIA congregation. Later a group of Macedonia members were instrumental in establishing the BRIGHT OAK congregation although there was no split or dispute, according to James Manywether of Bright Oak. Therefore Bright Oak is a product of Macedonia but was actually sponsored by Macedonia and was not a split.

China Grove splits into Mt. Hermon

A faction le by Johnny Carmicheal and Mr. Mays split from China Grove to begin the Mount Hermon Congregation.

Friendship splits into Mt. Sinai

A faction from the Friendship congregation formed the Mt. Sinai congregation and not long afterwards Tim Lavender and Billy Winchester led a group from Mt. Sinai to form the SPRINGHILL congregation.

Tabernacle splits into Progressive

The Reverend J.C. Toombs, Wrights, and Zedd family led faction out of the Tabernacle Baptist Congregation to form the Progressive Congregation. The families that left First Baptist to form Tabernacle were the same families that walked out and started Progressive three blocks away.

Paul Chapel forms Riverside

The Paul Chapel congregation met on the Old Cole Plantation. A group from the Plantation church assembled in the home of The Reverend S.L.V. Johnson and formed the RIVERSIDE congregation with worships held regularly "Down by the Riverside."

Tried Stone splits into Zion Springs

T.R. Brunson, Floyd Gray, the Besters and Browns led a group from the Tried Stone congregation to form the ZION SPRING congregation the 1940's under Rev. Ezekiel Mason.

Antioch splits into Mt. Olivet

George Banks and the Hedgewood family led a faction from the Antioch Baptist Church to form the Mt. Olivet congregation.

Piney Grove splits into Mt Gilead

In West Monroe, The Reverend Felix Thompson led a faction from Piney Grove with the Browns and others to form the congregation.

Old Bethel splits into Seigle Community

The Old Bethel church met in the gravel pits of West Monroe. Some members of Old Bethel left with deacon Fredrick Toombs and began the Seigle Community Baptist congregtion. Later the company that owned the pits land closed and the congregation of Old Bethel, for the most part, united with Seigle community under Rev. Joe Allen.

St. Joseph splits into Calvary

In 1948 the Ammons, Britton, Allens, Gree, Winzard,Hartin, and Johnson families led factions from the St. Joseph congregation to form the Calvary Baptist Church.

St. Luke splits into Monroe Deliverance Temple

Elder Beasant and several members of the St. Luke congregation formed the Monroe Deliverance Temple with Bishop Joe Price as its overseer.

Bethel splits to form Faith United

The Reverend Alex Earl led a faction of members from the Bethel Baptist Church to form the Faith United Baptist Church in 1995.

Sources

Information for his article was furnished from the following services: Centennial Dedication Program of the First Baptist Church May 3, 1971; Conversation with Rev. Prince Cornelius Keal, pastor of the First Baptist Church, July 1971; Conversations with the following residents in 1978: Corine Bowie, Leil Murray, Rev. S.L. Pierce, Rev. E.L. McClanahan, Rebecca Bose, Leslye Thomas, Nellie Sims, Minnie West Boughton, Hazel Ellis, Pashion Hartwell, James Manyweather, Wilva Washington, Rev. H.S. Staten, Ted Richards, Melvin Franklin, Morris Henry Carroll and Willie Abram.