A Brief History of DeRidder, Louisiana
DeRidder company Organized in 1912
The work began in DeRidder, Louisiana, in 1907 when Elder Straw held a tent meeting there. Elders Oscar F. Frank and D. H. Miller, as well as Ray Stephens added to the work begun by Elder Straw (Stephens, 1952). August 14 to September 22, 1912, a series of meetings was held by Elder O. F. Frank. The location was almost the same place as the meetings held five years previously. On Sabbath, September 14, 1912, a company of thirteen members was organized. By October it had grown to eighteen (Frank, 1912).
DeRidder Church Organized and Dedicated in 1952
In the fall of 1950, a tent meeting was held on the site of the future church building (Stephens, 1950). The members had started gathering funds early in 1950, and by the first of 1952 a little church was complete and ready to be dedicated. On April 5, 1952, the DeRidder church, for which the members had worked so untiringly, was dedicated, and the company was organized into a church (Stephens, 1952). This little church was often host to several Seventh-day Adventist soldiers and their wives who were stationed at Fort Polk (Stevens, 1957).
In 1948, Mabel and William J. Sinnett had become church members through the Voice of Prophecy and Quiet Hour. They were charter members of the DeRidder church and were very faithful in attendance. Mabel only missed Sabbath school once in twenty-two years (Gray, 1971). Around 1955, William became unable to see and could not hear well, but he loved his church and always attended every service. He was a one-man prayer band and he prayed earnestly for the success of the church until his death in 1960 (Cleek, 1961). Mabel continued to work faithfully for the church until her death in 1981, and was best known for her optimistic outlook on life and for her tatted Bible bookmarks, which she made and gave away, finishing seven per week for over fifteen years (Simpson, 1981).
A New Church in 1979
In October 1978, the Business and Professional Advisory members met at Camp Yorktown Bay. This organization, comprised of laymen and women from every part of our conference, established as one of their projects for the year to build a new church in DeRidder over the Thanksgiving holidays. Ground was broken at the Highway 171 property on November 14, 1978, and work on the project began immediately. Within three days’ time all the preparatory work was done and they were ready to pour the foundation. There were 100 laymen with a variety of construction skills who came from throughout the Arkansas-Louisiana conference to work in DeRidder over the Thanksgiving weekend. The conference moved its disaster van to the sight and furnished food, mass feeding style, for the group. Glenn Payne, the secretary of the Business and Professional Advisory, served as construction superintendent for this big project. The goal was to have the building framed in during the weekend (Record, 1978).
A colorful miniature church building was used as a receptacle for thank offerings during the construction of DeRidder’s new church (Record, 1981). Sabbath, February 24, 1979, was a high day for the members of the DeRidder church and their friends when they worshipped for the first time in their new sanctuary. Among the visitors on this important day were Glenn Payne of Harrison, Arkansas, conference superintendent of building, and Mr. and Mrs. Eli Lee of Zwolle, Louisiana, who worked faithfully on the building project (Griffin, 1979). The church was dedicated at the end of 1981 (Record, 1981).
Special people who attended the dedication of the DeRidder church — front row, L to R: Marguerite Delehant, charter member of DeRidder Seventh-day Adventist group; B. Page Haskell, local conference treasurer; W. H. Elder, conference president; Dr. Jack Lucas. Back row: Ken Simpson, pastor; Eldridge Morris, Louisiana State Representative who brought greetings in the afternoon service; J. Ray Bailey, conference associate secretary; and Ben Leach, Southwestern Union Conference president (Record, 1981).
Redesigning the Entrance
Early in 1989, the widening of Louisiana State Highway 171 took away the entire parking lot of the church and brought the highway right of way to within eight feet of the sanctuary wall. David Copsey, pastor of the church, designed and built a new main entrance at the back of the property where a new parking area was formed. The project required 3,200 cubic yards of fill dirt to recover the swampy acre so it could be used (Copsey, 1989).
(1918, Feb. 21). Southern Union Worker, p. 5.
(1978, Dec. 14). Southwestern Union Record, p. 12G.
(1981, Dec. 10). Ibid., p. 12F.
Cleek, Earl M. (1961, Feb. 22). Ibid., p. 15.
Copsey, Nell. (1989, Sep. 1). Ibid., p. 18.
Frank, Oscar F. (1912, Oct 3). Southern Union Worker, p. 316.
Gray, James B. (1971, Aug. 14). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.
Griffin, Liz. (1979, Apr. 19). Ibid., p. 16G.
Simpson, Ken. (1981, Oct. 1). Ibid., p. 12M.
Stephens, Ray W. (1950, Sep. 6). Ibid., p. 3.
Ibid. (1952, May 14). pp. 1, 7.
Stevens, George S. (1957, Oct. 16). Ibid., p. 3.