The Work Begins
The first efforts to establish a church in Lafayette were in 1969 and 1970, by Pastor and Mrs. Wallace Burns and Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Scoggins, as literature evangelists. In this strong Catholic community which Seventh-day Adventists had never been able to penetrate there was a major breakthrough that got the attention of high officials. In conjunction with a federation (now Adventist Community Services) meeting there, the Adventist group put on a mass-feeding demonstration at noon, at which time they fed more than 300 people in less than ten minutes. Afterward, they had a panel discussion with the Red Cross, Civil Defense, fire department, and city officials giving them information on what their agencies do and how Adventist could better cooperate in times of disaster. With newspaper and television coverage of the event, before the day was over the entire city knew of the community service work of Seventh-day Adventists (Voss, 1969).
Lafayette Company Organized in 1974
In 1973, a two-and-three-quarters-acre plot was purchased on which to build a church. Adventists living in the city at that time were a veterinarian and his wife, a male nurse and his family, a layman and his wife from California, and the pastor of the district, Keith McNabb and his family. Soon a couple from New Orleans joined them (McKnabb, 1973). The group was meeting in the Grace Lutheran church. On July 13, 1974, a covered-dish supper was held to celebrate their recent organization as the Lafayette company. About fifty members and visitors came to join the celebration (McKnabb, 1974).
It Takes Teamwork
In late 1974, the conference sent their dark county* team, Pastor Eugene Ryan and Tom Patzer to Lafayette as literature evangelists, determined to build a strong church in that city (Elder, 1975). They were assisted by students from Ozark Academy (now Ozark Adventist Academy) and Southwestern Union College (now Southwestern Adventist University) in conducting a Vacation Bible School. In the fall of 1975, an evangelistic team of Cline Johnson and Bill Tucker held a series in the Gabriel room of the Travelodge Motel. With an average attendance of 100 nightly and approximately forty non-Seventh-day Adventists the meetings continued for four weeks, with interests followed up by Elder Ryan (Record, 1976a).
A New Church in 1976
Early in 1976, the Lafayette members began building a church on their property just off Highway 167 on Rena Drive. The new church seated 125 with space for Sabbath school rooms and a fellowship hall (Griffin, 1976).
Lafayette Church Organized in 1976
On the afternoon of September 4, 1976, Elder Haskell officiated in the organization of the Lafayette church with thirty-three charter members. The nominating committee did a portion of its work during lunch, then presented a list of names for the principle offices and these were voted by the church members (Jackson, 1976).
*A dark county was an area where no active Adventist work was being done.
(1976a, Jan. 24). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.
(1976b, Feb. 14). Ibid., p. 16.
Elder, Jr., W. H. (1975, Feb. 2). Ibid., p. 6.
Griffin, W. J. (1976, Apr. 24). Ibid., p. 7.
Jackson, E. E. (1976, Nov. 13). Ibid., p. 9.
McKnabb, Keith. (1973, Dec. 8). Ibid., p. 9.
Ibid. (1974, Oct. 24). pp. 8, 9.
Voss, Howard H. (1969, Nov. 22). Ibid., pp. 5, 6.