Lake Charles Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Lake Charles, Louisiana

The Work Begins

Drew Park in 1909 where the 1918 and 1920 camp meetings were held.

The first evangelistic work in Lake Charles was in 1893, when Elders B. L. Diffenbacker and H. S. Shaw held tent meetings there. In 1895, Elder Smith Sharp visited Lake Charles and reported that there were five or six women with their children holding a Sabbath school (Smith, 1895). Other efforts were made by Elder S. B. Horton in 1899 and 1903, and by Elders John Hanson and O. F. Frank. Camp meeting was held in Lake Charles August 6 to 16, 1908 (Maxwell, 1908).

Lake Charles Church Organized in 1909

All of these efforts led to the organization of a church on March 20, 1909, by Elder E. L. Maxwell, with a membership of eleven. A neat well-furnished church had been built and was nearly finished and paid for (Maxwell, 1909). For several years Elder Frank continued working in Lake Charles and nearby towns. Camp meeting was again held in Lake Charles in 1918 at Drew Park and again in 1920 at the same location (Worker, 1918; Christman, 1920).

Lake Charles Company organized in 1926

In 1924, Elder J. L. Cooper became the pastor for a large area of Southwestern Louisiana (Beeler, 1996), but he found only five believers at Lake Charles (Cooper, 1924). By 1926, there were still very few, but the small group purchased a lot in the growing part of the city. In a nearby city they bought a church building which was already equipped with pews, light fixtures, and almost everything else they would need, so they moved this building to their lot and erected their church in Lake Charles, with plans to organize a company later that year (Cooper, 1926a). And they did — that summer, Elder Cooper organized a company of twenty-one members (Cooper, 1926b).

A New Church

Mr. and Mrs. Emmitt Head (Record, 1975)

On December 9, 1974, the church met in a business meeting to decide whether they should sell their old frame church which was small, out-dated, and in need of repair. They decided to sell and Dr. R. L. Sasser and his wife Alma, told the members they would be responsible for obtaining the land on which to build a new church. They found a lovely three-acre lot on Country Club Road near a nice subdivision. When the owner found they wanted it to build a church, he made a sizeable reduction of the price. On July 21, 1975, the conference builder Emmitt Head, a layman from Little Rock, moved to Lake Charles to begin the construction of the new sanctuary. That very evening a groundbreaking service was conducted. The new church would seat 175, with another seventy-five seats in a balcony that could be added. In addition there were Sabbath school rooms for every division and a nice kitchen and fellowship hall (Griffin, 1975). The Lake Charles church was dedicated debt-free on February 25, 1978. Elder R. H. Pierson, General Conference president, was present for the occasion (Record, 1978).

Those participating in the groundbreaking L to R: Elder W. J. Griffin, stewardship and church development director; Mr. C. A. Elliott, Elder Ted Hunter, pastor; Emmitt Head, conference builder; Mr. J. E. Sudduth, former mayor of Lake Charles; Mrs. H. H. Sudduth, oldest member at Lake Charles church; and Senator Jesse Knowles (Griffin, 1975).
Construction of the Lake Charles church in September 1975 (Record, 1975)
Lake Charles church on Country Club Road in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Elder Stephen Orian.

Citations

(1918, Aug. 1). Southern Union Worker, p. 3.

(1975, Jul. 26). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.

(1975, Oct. 11). Ibid., p. 9.

(1978, Apr. 6). Ibid., p. 16G.

Beeler, Charles R. (1996). A History of Seventh-day Adventists in Arkansas and Louisiana 1888-1996. Keene: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 105.

Christman, L. E. (1920, Aug. 26). Southern Union Worker, p. 3.

Cooper, J. L. (1924, Jun. 25). Ibid., p. 2

Ibid., (1926a, Feb. 3). p. 5.

Ibid., (1926b, Dec. 1). p. 4.

Griffin, W. J. (1975, Sep. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 9.

Maxwell, E. L. (1908, May 19). Southern Union Worker, p. 94.

Ibid. (1909, Apr. 6). p. 54.

Sharp, Smith. (1895, Jan. 8). Review and Herald, p. 28.