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Macedonia Baptist Church

Courtesy of the Capital Resource Conservation and Development Council
Interior of Macedonia Baptist Church
Courtesy of the Capital Resource Conservation and Development Council

Three country miles down a dirt road leading through a pine forest lies an almost perfectly preserved example of a late 19th-century rural, Louisiana church named the Macedonia Baptist Church. Still retaining and actively using its original cast iron stove and pews, the church was built in 1898 and is renowned as the oldest building in the town of Holden, and the oldest Baptist Church in Livingston Parish. Constructed in 1898, it is a good example of what a typical, vernacular rural Louisiana church was like. The church is currently still used for services; its original congregation was organized in May of 1856 under the shade of a magnolia tree. Its members first worshiped in various homes then later shared a building with a local congregation of Methodists. After leaving this church, the congregation proceeded to build their own church house, which was a log structure. This was followed in 1871 by a board house, then valued at $500 dollars. The present building is the congregation's third church house.

The history of the Baptists in Louisiana begins shortly before the United Sates acquired the territory from France in 1803. Before this time, the Baptists had made tentative efforts to establish themselves in the Catholic colony. In 1799 Bailey E. Chaney, a Baptist minister, was arrested by the Spanish officials for conducting services at an Anglo-Saxon settlement near Baton Rouge. Ministers from several denominations came after 1803 to work among the African-Americans and the Native Americans. Joseph Willis, a mulatto Baptist preacher, conducted meetings at Vermilion (now Lafayette) but was forced to leave. In 1812, Willis returned to Bayou Chicot and organized the first Baptist church west of the Mississippi. A month earlier, his colleagues in the Florida parishes had organized the Half Moon Bluff Church, the first Baptist church in the State, near the Bogue Chitto River in Washington Parish. During the same year, Cornelius Paulding, a Baptist layman, came to New Orleans to engage in business. He donated space in one of his buildings for Baptist meetings and arranged for traveling ministers to hold services. In 1834, the first Baptist Church was established in New Orleans, and in 1854, with funds provided by Paulding's will, the Coliseum Place Baptist Congregation was founded.

Fortunately, the church was not damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Macedonia Baptist Church is located on State Hwy. 1036, 3 miles north of State Hwy. 442, and north of the town of Holden. It is open for church services only, visit the Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association's website for further information.

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