Bienville Baptist Association, which ministers to 21 churches, is the location of more than a few significant historical events.
BIENVILLE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION – In the parish of the same name, this association, which ministers to 21 churches, is the location of more than a few significant historical events.
Here the rural atmosphere is enhanced by the proximity of Shreveport and Monroe, which offers residents the convenience of the city. The population of the parish in 2000 was close to 16,000, according to the U.S. Census.
“[The parish’s] early settlers were mostly devout Baptist pioneers who quickly established churches, schools and broad fields of cotton,” according to a state website that chronicles the histories of each parish – enlou.com/parishes/bienville-parish. “This attitude of faith, education and hard work prevails to this day.”
Black Lake, Saline Bayou and Lake Bistineau are the major bodies of water in the parish. Driskill Mountain, in the northwest part of the parish, is the highest point in Louisiana, at 535 feet above sea level.
Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Gibsland was dedicated in 1857; a wooden divider down the middle between the pews separated men and women, while a balcony provided seating for slaves.
In November 1848, 13 Baptists meeting at Mt. Lebanon organized the Baptist State Convention of North Louisiana. One of the founders was George W. Baines, who later became the president of Baylor University. His great grandson, Lyndon Baines Johnson, became the 36th president of the United States.
In 1853 Mount Lebanon University was founded. Ten years later, the school was suspended when Confederate forces used the buildings as a hospital. The school then moved to Pineville where it reopened as Louisiana College.
Texas Rangers and a sheriff’s posse tracked Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker to Driskell Mountain, where the outlaws were killed on May 23, 1934, on a Bienville Parish road.
Today, residents and visitors enjoy many homes on the National Historic Register, plus Briarwood Gardens; the Blue Hole, a bottomless cold water spring near Kepler Creek Lake; and the Crawfish Festival in the spring.
“I continue to believe that our association is one of the most active mission areas in our state,” Hales wrote in the 2006 Bienville Book of Reports.
The association contributes to the support of Rolling Hill Baptist Ministries, Inc., which ministers to fire victims, domestic abuse victims or people in need through its thrift store. In 2006, RHM shipped more than 15,000 boxes of clothing to several southern states and even to other countries, according to Bienville’s 2006 Book of Reports.
RHM also operates a disaster relief ministry with a feeding unit and a chainsaw unit. The disaster relief ministry launched its website in September 2006.
In 2006, RHM also worked in four state parks, providing day camps and Sunday worship services.
Harris Baptist Assembly also receives support from the association, as does the BCM at Louisiana Tech University. The construction of the new BCM facility there is scheduled for this summer.
New ministries for the association in the last few years include a Granberry Counseling center, truck stop ministry, prison ministry, African American ministry, Youth Challenge ministry, mission builders’ trailer, mobile laundry unit, ‘Adopt a church’ South Louisiana building projects, and a Hispanic ministry.
Sunday school events for the association planned for 2007 include the July 27-28 Childhood Education Workshop at Brookwood Baptist in Shreveport. “Connection: Equipping Bible Study Leaders” is set for Aug. 18 in Shreveport/Bossier City, and “Ridgecrest on the River, Equipping Bible Study Leaders for Excellence,” is scheduled for September 8 in Monroe.
Total baptisms for the churches in the association for 2006 were 71, while other additions were 91. Resident membership of all the churches is more than 2,000, and Sunday school enrollment is about 1,500.Total giving last year amounted to more than $2 million. Of that, more than $140,000 was to the Cooperative Program and more than $300,000 went toward missions.