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Collection Title: Gonzales, Louisiana, Baptist Church Records

Collection Number: M21

Dates: December 9, 1934 through August 8, 1943

Volume: .20 cu. ft.

Provenance: Created by Mrs. J.E. (Sadie A.) Gonzales as clerk of the First Baptist Church of Gonzales, Louisiana. She held this position for about 25 years in the first half of this century.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Gonzales, Louisiana, is located in the eastern portion of Ascension Parish; it was described in the 1930's as the financial, commercial, industrial, and political center of activity in that part of the parish. A post office was established at Gonzales on May 21, 1887, but the village did not incorporate until 1922. Its name was taken from the family name of Joseph Gonzales who had been instrumental in securing the post office. Reported population of Gonzales in 1980 was 7,287.

The Gonzales Baptist Church was organized on July 7, 1907, and was then the only church in the town. L.M. Phillips led the seventeen members in organization and served as the first pastor of the church. At first the church met in a building owned by a fraternal organization, but on January 1, 1909, a new frame structure was ready for use. That building was destroyed in a hurricane later in the year. A second structure was erected and later was moved nearer to the center of town.

The church's pastors in early years were members of the faculty of the Baptist Bible Institute (now New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary). In July 1940, the membership voted to call its first full-time pastor, Rev. R.B. Butler, of Zachary, LA. Many faithful members served the church, and at least two state and national Baptist leaders came from the congregation. Church membership totaled 59 in 1910, 94 in 1918, 278 in 1939, and 417 in 1950.

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