The Work Begins
In 1971, Elder Wallace “Wally” R. Burns and his wife, a young Seventh-day Adventist couple, were moved by the conference to begin a new work in the dark parish* of Terrebonne. When the city of Houma learned of Elder Burns and his activities the rumor went around that this was a subversive organization and possibly Communist oriented. Realizing that the community would not respond to evangelistic meetings, Elder Burns used the Wayout approach of the Voice of Prophecy, establishing a clinic or help center, to minister to the needs of the community. Alcoholics, drug addicts, tobacco slaves, young people, as well as adults with domestic problems could call a number twenty-four hours a day to receive understanding help. The Wayout center became known in the city almost overnight for its humanitarian work. Requests began to come in for Elder Burns to be the guest speaker at PTA organizations, Protestant churches, civic clubs, and many others. Even the parish priests invited Elder Burns, with his helpers, to set up a Wayout booth at their carnivals and fairs for distribution of Wayout literature and enrollment in the Wayout program of the Voice of Prophecy (Kostenko, 1972).
Houma Church Organized in 1972
As a result of this work, the Houma church was organized on September 3, 1972, with twenty-four charter members. The Houma church members were meeting in the home of Elder and Mrs. Burns. Some weeks there were more than fifty in attendance. The young people had to meet out under the trees since there was not enough room in the house (Sherrill, 1972). The members soon began meeting in an old house with a galvanized tin roof that they renovated. About a year later they were able to rent an old Presbyterian church (Griffin, 1976).
A New Church in 1976
Elder Burns left in February 1976. He had baptized twenty-nine new members during his time in Houma. Elder Glenmore Carter came as an interim pastor and he had extensive experience in building churches. The members saved and the conference took up a special offering to help. The Houma members and members from sister churches came together to build a church (Griffin, 1976; Culpepper, 2020). About that time Gerry Christman came to pastor the church. The church and school were completed and the first service was held in the church on December 18, 1976. Buddy Brass, the conference evangelist, held a series of meetings in August 1978. There were fifty-two baptisms from the meetings. The membership was only fifty-eight when the series began so it nearly doubled (May, 1979). The Houma church, which now had 110 members, was dedicated debt-free on June 21, 1980 (Hall, 1980).
*A dark parish was an area where no active Adventist work was being done.
Culpepper, Verdie. (2020, Nov. 14). Email to How it All Began.
Griffin, W. J. (1976, Jan. 10). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.
Hall, Richard. (1980, Sep. 4). Ibid., p. 12G.
Kostenko, P. A. (1972, Jul. 22). Ibid., p. 6.
May, Bill. (1979, Oct. 4). Ibid., p. 16E.
Sherrill, E. Frank. (1972, Oct. 14). Ibid., p.