Thursday, July 31, 2014
Fifty-nine years after the city of Opelousas had been incorporated, and fifteen years after the end of the Civil War, the First Baptist Church of Opelousas was founded November 6, 1880. Following a series of revival services held at the courthouse by Dr. W.C. Friley, then Corresponding Secretary of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and Rev. Edward Kelley, a small congregation was formed. Four known charter members were Mrs. E.J. Lassiter, W.L. Truman, Mrs. Sarah Summerlin, and Mrs. Addie Thompson. The Louisiana Baptist Convention gave assistance for 40 years, until the struggling new church became self-supporting in 1920.
The first wood frame meeting house was erected on Bellevue Street in 1883. The cornerstone bore the inscription: "Erected by the State Mission Board of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. W.C. Friley, Cor. Sec., J.P. Everett, Pres." The sanctuary was enlarged and Sunday School rooms added in 1925 under the leadership of Rev. S.O. Oliver as pastor.
First Baptist Church of Opelousas has planted sister churches in the towns of Port Barre in 1925, Sunset in 1944, Washington & Arnaudville in 1955, and in Milton & Washington once again in 1994. The church has had a history of continually seeking the Lord's leadership in establishing new works in areas where there is no evangelical witness. It has been a labour of love that "plants trees that will produce fruit of which [the church herself] will never eat, but [those who come after] will."
The brick church building that remains on Bellevue Street was built in 1952 under the leadership of Rev. George Nichols as pastor. The brick structure was constructed by Herbert Amy, Sr. His son, Herbert Amy, Jr. and son-in-law, Gerald Prejean, both can recall with fond memories the construction of that church building. In 1956, an addditional lot was purchased , extending the church property to North Street. A brick parsonage was built on Holly Drive in 1965 followed in 1967 with the completion of the current home of the Minister of Youth.
Thirteen acres of land in the Park Vista subdivision was purchased with the intent to build a new church with increased space for recreation and parking. However, in the early 1980s, a severe economic downturn caused many families to move to other locales for employment, and the need for building a larger church was no longer pressing.
In 1992, Dr. Perry C. Hubbs came as the 31st pastor of First Baptist Church of Opelousas. The Lord blessed his ministry and First Baptist under his leadership with congregational growth to the extent that multiple worship services were required and there was a desperate need for more educational space at the Bellevue Street property. With an ever-growing Sunday School and a steady influx of baptisms and new members, the need for a new church building with increased space became pressing once again. This growth trend prompted the church to sell the Park Vista property and purchase land along I-49 South as demographics revealed the growth of residence and commerce to the south of Opelousas.
Ground-breaking for the current facility took place in November of 2001. Construction began in January of 2003. The fellowship of First Baptist Church worshipped together in the new facility for the first time on December 7, 2003. As God leads this body of born-again believers into the future, we trust that future will be just as bright as the witness of God's faithfulness.