Talk:Louisiana Church Records

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The researcher should be aware that Louisiana is Catholic primarily in the southern part but strongly Protestant in the North. Until very recently, Louisiana was truly a state divided by religion and lifestyle.

Traditionally, the geographical lower third of the state (and by far the greatest in population) was influenced by Spain and France. Most of these did follow the Catholic faith and it was not until 1804 that a Baptist preacher (Joseph Willis) was able to make his way from Mississippi as a missionary. This was highly dangerous not only because Willis was Baptist but also because he was a black man.

He was unable to baptize his converts for some time, because he himself had not been able to receive ordination as a pastor because of his color. Finally, some Methodist pastor friends took care of the ordination themselves and Louisiana was able to establish its first Baptist Church. Gradually, with the help of the Mississippi Baptist association and especially Revs. Thomas Mercer and David Cooper and later Laurence Scarborough and Moses Hadley, the Louisiana Baptist Belt began to form.

This Baptist Belt--with various versions of Baptists, primarily Southern Baptists, as well as influence from Methodist churches and to a lesser extent, Presbyterian churches, Church of Christ (once a splinter group of the Baptists) and many others including independent congregations--has formed a strong bond in North Louisiana. In fact, many of the people of North Louisiana have much more in common with those of South Arkansas and East Texas than they do with the population of South Louisiana. This northern distrust of the south was returned by the people of the south of the state.

It was only with the destruction brought by hurricanes Katrina and Rita that this began to change. When the people from New Orleans, Lake Charles, Houma, Lafayette, and the other tinier towns began to rush toward the northern part of the state, they discovered the Bible Belt was open and welcoming. This has begun to change bad attitudes and mistrust which had existed for over 200 years.  

For this reason, if the family that is being researched had settled in the northern part of the state, it is likely the family attended a Baptist or Methodist church. If you do not find what you need in Catholic church records, consider looking at the records at the Louisiana Baptist Convention located in Alexandria, Louisiana 1250 MacArthur Drive Alexandria, LA 71303 (318) 448-3402 The web site is lbc.org

Another place that has been collecting minutes of churches in the North Louisiana region is the archives department of Louisiana Tech University. Some of these are (or at least were very recently) also online in digital form on Lincoln, Jackson and Claiborne parish genealogy websites.

I used information from the following books to double check my facts:

Paxton, W. E. A History of the Baptists of Louisiana from Earliest to the Present. (St. Louis: CR Barnes, 1888) Greene, Glen House Upon a Rock:About Southern Baptists in Louisiana. (Alexandria:Louisiana Baptist Convention, 1973)

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