The Work Begins
In 1971, Elder 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. Later they were able to rent an old Presbyterian church (Griffin, 1976).
A New Church in 1976
In late spring 1976, the Maranatha Flights International team flew in to provide the labor to build a new church for Houma. That meant the members had to have all the money on hand to purchase materials and pay for the land. The members saved and the conference took up a special offering to help (Griffin, 1976). The church and school were completed in 1976. Buddy Brass, the conference evangelist, held a series of meetings in the fall of 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.
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.