The best Christian I Have Ever Known      


From the pages of the Tribune

Compliments of John Agan Webster Parish Historian

and the Press-Herald

Religion in Minden

On the following page, the Tribune gave an account of the religious life in Minden. The article was headlined: "Our churches — Rapid advancements being made by the churches — Figures that speak well for Minden — Our Pastors, Churches, Etc.

"Minden is perhaps in advance of any town in the State in the matter of churches.

"First, and most important of all, is the fact that we have more churches than saloons, there being seven of the former and four of the latter.

"Second, there is a church to about every 200 souls, counting our entire population.

"There is a seating capacity in our churches for every living inhabitant, man and woman and child, white and colored. So that the entire population turn out at once, there would be 'room and space.'

Examining Churches

"The Roman Catholic Church is a small building, but sufficiently large for all purposes for which it is intended. This church has about 50 communicants, Rev. Father Gentile of Shreveport, preaches for them, occasionally.

"The Protestant Episcopal Church has a very handsome building, well furnished. Sunday School every Sabbath afternoon. They are about 39 members, they having had several accessions this year. No regular pastor, Rev. Dr. Dalzell of Shreveport, a learned and distinguished divine preaches for them occasionally.
"The Baptist Church has two places of worship — one for white members and one for the colored.

"The Baptist Church (white) has a good and comfortable house of worship and everything is kept in good condition. Rev. W. H. McGee is a man of unusual intellect and exercises great control over his members.

"He has been settled here about seven years during which time considerable advancement has been made both in number of members and usefulness of the membership.

"Services are held three Sabbaths in each month. Sunday School and prayer meeting once each week. The church numbers 92 members — 20 having been added this year.

"The Colored Baptist Church has regular services, a comfortable house, about 199 members. Rev. William Newman is their pastor. He is loved by his flock and exercises great influence over them.

"The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the pioneer of all the churches in town, has a comfortable house of worship in good condition; also a large and roomy parsonage, which has recently been secured.

"The present pastor, Rev. J. A. Parker, has been here only during the present year. He is noted for his great energy as a worker and his eloquent and pointed arguments.

"He has increased the membership of the church 25 percent and has added to the property value of it in the purchase of the ministers house nearly 50 percent.
"Services are held two Sabbaths in each month, morning and evening, while Sunday School and prayer meetings are held weekly. The membership of the church numbers 88 — 22 of which have been added this year.

"The Colored Methodists have a good house of worship, regular services and about 125 members. Rev. Shepherd is the pastor. He is a hard and zealous worker and has done much for his church since he has had control.

"The Presbyterian Church (O.S.) worship in the Methodist house of worship. There about 20 members, fully organized, and have services once each month. Rev. Dr. Turner of Homer, is their pastor. He is a good worker, a learned man, and has had long experience.

"It is refreshing to see how these two churches, so unlike in doctrine, harmonize in all charities; and so lovingly and coefficiently prosecute the great work of elevating their fellows in all social interests, together.

"The aggregate church membership of our town is about 600 or 50 percent of the entire population, while the average ability of our ministers is equal to that of an corps of clergymen to be found.

"There are also a few members or believers in other churches or doctrines not mentioned above.

"We have shown enough, however, to substantiate our assertion that Minden is the most moral town in the State, and has less drinking, gambling and dissipation and immoralities of all sorts. Yet it is bad enough as it is. If any of our towns or cities can make a better showing we will be glad to see them do it.”
So, there is a glimpse into the life in Minden, 120 years ago. Many things have changed, but at least one part of this Echo of Our Past remains the same. We still have more churches than saloons.

John Agan is a local historian and adjunct instructor at Bossier Parish Community College. He also works in the Louisiana and Genealogy Section of the Webster Parish Library and is a published author. His column appears Fridays in the Minden Press-Herald.



Read History of Antioch Baptist Church under Stories


Over 100 churches serve the area population and they range fro the small, rural, one-room church to First Baptist in Minden with over 2,500 members.  It is easy to find a church home in Webster Parish.

This was a postcard

The Baptist society was organized on December 29, 1844 by Revs. W. J. Larkin, President L. Washburn, clerk; Elizabeth B. Sligh , Phoebe Brisel Drew, and Thomas Lovel . Among the oldest members were Mrs. Drury Murrell and E. W. Canfield who were still members when the church was erected about 1846-47 often being subjected to repairs. The old organization of Overton was erected prior to 1844.

The Minden Baptist Church

Compliments of John Agan and the Minden Press-herald

The Minden Baptist Church (the name First Baptist Church of Minden was not adopted until March 1924) was organized on December 29, 1844.

Two sessions were held that day under the leadership of two men from the Rehoboth Church of Mt. Lebanon, Elders W. J. Larkin and L. L. Washburne.

At the first the church was organized with four charter members, R. L. Horn, Phebe Bird, Thomas Lovel and Sarah Drew. It seems likely that this meeting was held in the home of Mrs. Drew.
From these beginnings, the church grew, as in the second session on that day two new members were accepted: Lucy Ann Morrow by experience and Emily Sligh by letter from another Baptist church.

Over the next year the small congregation in what was then a community on the frontier, less than 50 miles from the international border with the Republic of Texas, continued to increase in size.
In August 1845, the first black member, Nancy, a "servant of Sister Allen" joined the Minden Baptist Church; other slaves would follow over the next few years.

The next month the membership was decreased by one, when a certain member (names will be withheld to protect the innocent, even though it happened 158 years ago) of the congregation was excluded from fellowship for "drunkenness and gambling."

In 1846, the church moved into its first house of worship, located on what is today the southeast corner of the intersection of Lee Street and Broadway.

That building was the home of the congregation for the next 56 years, longer than any other house of worship.

As Minden grew the Minden Baptist Church grew along with her, slowly but steadily.

A major disruption of the church membership came in 1865 and 1866 when nearly 50 members of the congregation, freed slaves, were granted letters of dismissal to unite with the newly formed St. Rest's Baptist Church.

By 1878, the church rolls listed 54 members, but over the next decade the membership more than doubled, as by the end of 1889, there were 113 persons affiliated with the Minden Baptist Church. During these years problems began to surface with the church building.

One recurrent problem was keeping up the fence around the church property as hogs were in the habit of entering the church property and staying under the church building.

Apparently this was a problem throughout Minden, as in 1902 the city placed a bounty on stray hogs and also required owners to register the animals with the town government. Besides these livestock concerns, the church building was also becoming too small for the congregation and upkeep was also a problem.

Finding Prosperity

In 1901, the new Minden Mill of the Bodcau Lumber Company opened here and a brought a new found prosperity.

The Minden Baptist Church became financially able to construct a new building, an impressive brick structure located on what is today the front parking lot of the Minden Medical Center on Main Street.

When the church entered this building in 1902, the membership had grown to 200 persons.

That church building became better known to most local residents in its second capacity, because after the church built a third home in 1925, the second house of worship was later remodeled and became the Rex Theatre.

The 1902 building was remarkable for its indoor baptistry with glass walls and the first electric lights in our church. After entering the new building, membership stabilized and actually dropped.

By the time the annual report to the Liberty Baptist Association was complied in 1911, membership had fallen to 183 members. In that year alone, the church had a net loss of 21 members, or more than 10% of the congregation.

By 1917, as the United States entered World War I, membership had grown to 389 persons. Of that number 239 were female and 150 were male. In the years immediately after World War I, Minden and the church began a period of rapid growth.

By 1924, it was clear that the Minden Baptist Church had outgrown its relatively new home. The first church building had been used for 56 years, while the second was only home to the congregation for 23 years.

In preparation for building a new church home, the congregation reorganized in the early spring of 1924, its newly chartered name became the First Baptist Church of Minden.

The English property at the corner of Broadway and First Street was purchased as a site for the new church building. (An aside here, in case anyone ever wondered why Minden has a series of streets numbered 1st, 2nd and 3rd Street beginning in the middle of town, it's because of an error in reading a map.

According to letters from the children of Isaac Murrell who lived on Pennsylvania Avenue at the end of 1st Street, the original name was "I" Street, indicating it was the ninth street in a progression of downtown streets following the alphabet.

At some point, after the other letter streets had acquired new names, some mapmaker read that name as "1st" street and the name stuck.

By the way, the Murrell children chose the name Pennsylvania Avenue for the street in front of their home because they knew the White House was located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington and they wanted their home to be on an equally prestigiously named street.)

Aided greatly by the philanthropy of Joseph G. and Nancy Mullins Ferguson, the new home of the First Baptist Church was completed and ready to be occupied by the end of April 1925.
The first event in the church had actually happened in February, when church organist Miss Lavinia Shealy was married to Mr. Bert David in the unfurnished church.

Miss Lavinia had been determined to have her wedding in the new church, and was not going to let the absence of pews and finishing work interrupt her plans. The first event in the church after completion was the funeral of former U.S. Congressman John T. Watkins of Minden, a former President of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

When the church moved into the new building in 1925 its membership had swelled to 832 members, an increase of more than 100% in eight years. This rapid growth continued unchecked over the next few years.

By 1939, the church boasted 1816 members and was one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in Louisiana. The all time peak membership was recorded four years later, in 1943, when the church roll included the names of 2,246 persons.

In 1944, the First Baptist Church of Minden celebrated its centennial and also played host to the annual meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

That marked the fifth, and most likely the final, time the local church served as host. In the years since, the demand for convention facilities and hotel rooms has made the convention too large an event for all but the largest communities in our state.

That year also marked a change in the way membership numbers were reported by Louisiana Baptist churches. From that point forward, churches reported two categories; resident members and non-resident members who had moved from the community but had not moved their church membership. In 1944, the First Baptist Church reported a total membership of 2,396, but a resident membership of 1,448.

In the years after the war, resident membership continued to boom. By 1949, it had reached a peak at 1,614 members. Over the next few years the membership dropped off a little as the religious community in Minden grew.

The Sibley Road Mission of the First Baptist Church was established taking members from the mother congregation.

That church later became the Southside Baptist Church and is today the North Acres Baptist Church. One other local church, the Germantown Baptist Church, began as a mission of First Baptist. In addition, other Southern Baptist churches were established in Minden, so although Minden was growing, the membership at FBC did not keep pace.

During the 1960s growth began again at First Baptist. Dr. Ronald Prince was called as pastor in November 1966 and his dynamic leadership sparked a new time of increase.

Resident membership climbed back over the 1,600 mark for the first time in nearly a decade in 1969, and by the time Dr. Prince retired from the pulpit in 1987, it had reached 1,882.

Today, under the leadership of our pastor, the Rev. Wayne Dubose, we are enjoying a new period of growth with a resident membership of over 1,920.

Well by now you might be wondering what the point of all these numbers might be. Am I just stuck on statistics and trying to brag about the size of my church. While I do confess a fondness for statistics, there is another, higher purpose.

These numbers I have listed are not merely marks on a paper, they stand for people, thousands of people. The First Baptist Church of Minden has carried on its rolls more than 2000 names for more than 60 years.

John Agan is a local historian and adjunct instructor at Bossier Parish Community College. He also works in the Louisiana and Genealogy Section of the Webster Parish Library and is a published author. His column appears Fridays in the Minden Press-Herald.


                         Special to the Press-Herald


The Grig

First Baptist Church of Minden

This church has been torn down


July, 2005

Compliments of Maurice Whitlow


 I found this church bulletin that my mother had saved from my pocket in 1950. I thought it might be interesting. I noticed on the back page that Mr. S.G. Alexander was a new member welcomed for Baptism that day.

I scanned, printed and sent a copy to his daughter Flora Alexander Bennett who now lives in Fairfield, Texas. She was a neighbor across the street when Mickey and I lived in the Fairfield Apartments in Minden and a MHS Class of 1951 grad. We had a good visit with Flo and her husband, John, at our reunion last fall. After Flo was gone from home, her parents bought the home on Sibley Rd. that Mastin Slack's family lived in during high school. Mr. Alexander was also in charge of the MHS gymnasium maintenance when we were in high school. I've sent you a picture of him taken from The 1950 Grig in a separate email.

Bernard McCoy


First Bapttist Church Bulletin

By Bernard McCoy

I've noticed that the FBC Church Bulletin I sent you listed Norville N.
Marshall as Minister of Music&  Education. He performed our wedding
ceremony December 22, 1951 while I was home on leave from the Navy. The
ceremony was in Jacqueline Davis's parent's home at 206 East&  West St.
Jackie and helpers decorated my dad's car with white liquid shoe polish
sayings. We didn't wash the car until the next day. By that time the
sayings were still visible in the paint. My dad never mentioned this. I
know he had to have the car polished and waxed. He was a great guy as
was my mother.

Many years later while we lived in Dallas, the Reverend Marshall and his
wife came to our Dallas church to preach. Mickey and I had a nice
reunion with them. He was then the District Missionary for Texas
Baptists, living in Kaufman, Texas. It's strange how and where we
encounter people that have been a part of our lives.

I found this church bulletin that my mother had saved from my pocket in 1950.                                          

I thought it might be interesting. I noticed on the back page that Mr. S.G. Alexander was a new member welcomed for Baptism that day.

I scanned, printed and sent a copy to his daughter Flora Alexander Bennett who now lives in Fairfield, Texas. She was a neighbor across the street when Mickey and I lived in the Fairfield Apartments in Minden and a MHS Class of 1951 grad. We had a good visit with Flo and her husband, John, at our reunion last fall. After Flo was gone from home, her parents bought the home on Sibley Rd. that Mastin Slack's family lived in during high school. Mr. Alexander was also in charge of the MHS gymnasium maintenance when we were in high school. I've sent you a picture of him taken from The 1950 Grig in a            separate email. (See pg. 2)

Bernard McCoy


Guy Alexander, 1950 Grig

Baptised First Baptist Church

Submitted by Bernard McCoy, Class of 1951



This church was built on the location of the Lizzie Murrell and John Watkins home place that burned in 1943.


Lakeview Church

Photograph by Robert Grambling

Submitted by Greg Grambling



Hi Sherry!
My sisters and I held our annual Christmas luncheon on Saturday, December 11, 2010.
This year we held it at the little country church, Germantown Baptist Mission Church,
 we attended as kids growing up. One of the grandkids commented "it feels like coming home".
Our church, Germantown Baptist Mission Church, is a very short distance from where our home was,
in city terms probably 1/1-2 blocks.  
When we were growing up and attended the church it had only one room, the chapel itself.
The church has been well maintained. The outside looks the same except for some
additions. There is  a Fellowship Hall, men's and women's bathrooms and several classrooms. There's
also a full size kitchen.
The Fellowship Hall has the old piano that my sister Betty learned to play on when she took piano lessons.
During our luncheon she played it and we sang Christmas Carols.
The inside of the church is a little different.  The chapel is carpeted now instead of the old wooden floors.
I wish it still had the old floors.
This is a small country church and for Sunday worship service the normal attendance is about 18.
We had our luncheon in the Fellowship Hall...very nice.
I'm sorry and wish I could have taken pictures of the outside of the church but the weather was
windy and misting rain most of the day.
We did have a wonderful time visiting with each other, as usual, out time together was to short.
I am attaching a picture of the church, I am so sorry it is not better. But maybe we can get another one.
Also, a picture of the Newsom girls and some of the family. We had a great turnout.
Merry Christmas to everyone!
Melba Bair



Presbyterianism was introduced at Overton in 1838 by A. R. Banks who addressed a small congregation in the court house. In 1839 he and John Boggs preach and by means of conversation win a few adherents. It was in 1854 that John Davidson was installed as pastor. He presided over the seminary from 1856-62.  The church in Minden was completed and dedicated in 1889 by Rev. Van Lear. The only male members in 1890 were Hervey Drake and W. D. English. The lot was donated by Hervey Drake, in accordance with the wishes of W.A. Drake, although not a member.


Minden Presbyterian Church at 1001 Broadway. It may have

been called First Presbyerian back then, but no longer.  From the MHS Grig.          

Minden Presbyterian Church




Gabriel by Larry Milford

This bronze is in the courtyard at First United Methodist Church.  Inscribed on the white rock is the word HOPE.  The bronze plaque beneath says, "In loving memory of Mrs. Juanita Simms by her husband Morris."


P2965 Minden Methodist Church erected 1906 F=308


                First United Methodist Church at 903 Broadway.  The building on the left housed the offices,

                library and some Sunday School class rooms are no longer standing. There is a new                

                 building standing where both of these buildings were years ago.

                 Compliments of  Archives & Special Collections La. State University One Univ. Place,

                 Shreveport, La. 71115 - 2399.

First United Methodist Church December 2003

First United Methodist Church Side View from McDonald Street

Parkway Baptist Church when it was first build during the fifties.

The land for the church was donated by Mr. Warren.                   


     Located on the corner of Marshall and 518 Constable Street (The front faces Marshall)

This is the empty lot across Marshall from the front of the church.

Rev. L. K. Hartsfield was the first pastor of the

Rev. T. W. Leachman was the second pastor

Brother Bill Luck was the Choir Director

The English Protestant Episcopal Society existed without organization as far back as Capt. Goodwill, the Chaffes, and other English nativity were visited by faith. In 1870 the church just east of the court house was erected.

                                                       St. John's Episcopal Church photograph by Robert Grambling

                                                                         Submitted by Greg Grambling


St. John's Episcopal Church - 1107 Broadway


In early years a few Catholic families settled in the parish, and from 1857 to 1867 missionary priest from Shreveport. In 1867 a small chapel was erected just north of the church, and here the services of the church were held once a month, but one of the priests from Shreveport. In 1879 Father Gentille held the services of the church in Minden.


                                                                                          This was once the old St. Paul  Catholic Church and Rectory.

                                                                                                             This church was built about 1905

                                                                                                                A FRONT VIEW OF THE OLD   

                                                                                                             ST. PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH




  The new St. Paul Catholic Church on Fincher Road near Homer Road.  


From the 1953 Grig


Goodwill Street, Minden, Louisiana taken 2003

This sketch is taken in part from the Minute Magazine by Elizabeth Entrekin from the artle "Brother Barnes: A Voice of Purpose & Guidance. (October 2003)

The First United Pentecostal Church is located on Goodwill street. The senior pastor is Rev. T. W. Barnes. He  was born on the 12 of July 1913 in Bradley, Arkansas but he considers Springhill to be his hometown. His family moved there when he was twelve years old and he grew up on a farm between Springhill and Plain Dealing. Religion was an important part of his daily life.His father was a member of the local Missionary Baptist Church. It was in 1937 when they moved their membership to the Pentecostal Church in Springhill. There he met Lucille Farrington. Her job at the meeting was to sing and play the  guitar for the evangelist. Back then, a Brush harbor meeting meant that a revival was held in a field. In 1937 they were married.

             In 1947 Bro. Barnes & his wife moved to Minden to start their own church.    

They built their first church not far from the current location on Goodwill street and lived on Clerk street. They purchased their first electric window fan in 1948. Summers back then reached from 100 to 110 degrees, and the fans barely kept them cool.   He has seen his church grow from a small building in the beginning to the current location on Goodwill and will in a year or so go see a new church building rise up on Highway 531 in Minden. Every word he utters has a powerful message for the ones who are willing to listen. Everyday reflects his lifelong love of God and family.

                                                                     Minden Press-Herald Nov. 19, 2003

             BARNES NAMED GRAND MARSHALL OF THE                  


                                      CHRISTMAS PARADE

The article reads in part: Brother Barnes has been in the ministry sixty-six years and for the past sixty-six years has served as pastor of the Minden First United Pentecostal Church. He is active in the Louisiana District of the United Pentecostal Church. For nineteen years, Rev Barnes served as Home Mission Director and touched the lives of thousands of young men and women during his thirty-six years as principal of the La. District youth Camps. Rev. Barnes has preached camp meetings and conferences throughout the United States. The highlight of his ministry was preaching in Jerusalem at the 1976 UPCI World Conference of the United Pentecostal Church, International in Toronto, Canada. While there, he was one of four ministers honored as Men of Faith. He is the author of three books. His ministry is not confined to Minden or to Louisiana, but worldwide he serves as mentor, counselor and friend to ministers and missionaries. In 1998, the Minden/South Webster Chamber of Commerce named him Man of the Year. Rev. Barnes and his wife, Lucille have been married for sixty-six years. They have one child, Ruth Barnes Tanner, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

November, 2003




The old Calvary Baptist Church on the Shreveport Road.



Located on Hwy. 57. approx. 7 mi. from Dixie Inn. in Webster Parish, Brother Joe Hunter is Pastor of this church.

Sherry Gresham Gritzbaugh

4507 Verone Street, 4507 Verone St., Bellaire, TX77401

If you would like to submit a photo of your church,  I would like to post it.

All photo's will be returned promptly. Be sure to identify your picture. Include your name, address, and phone no.

Bethany Baptist Church

Minden, Louisiana