Nestled in a pine forest down a dirt road sits Macedonia Baptist Church. Built in 1898, it’s the oldest Baptist church building in Livingston Parish.
HOLDEN – Nestled in a pine forest down
a dirt road sits Macedonia Baptist Church. Built in 1898, it’s the
oldest Baptist church building in Livingston Parish.
organized under the shade of a magnolia tree in May 1856, still
conducts weekly services in the old structure.
“We’ve had six professions
of faith since January,” said Pastor Roger Dunlap. “I’ll tell you
anything you need to know about the old building. But Macedonia Church
is not about that old building. The focus of our ministry is on Jesus
The results are telling.
Regular Sunday school
attendance has grown under Dunlap’s leadership from about 10 to about
50 – no mean feat in an area as rural as this – and worship attendance
sees about 30 more than that.
“We’re pulling in people
all the time from the area,” Dunlap said. This year, workers expect
more than 75 children for vacation Bible school.
The church also has a big reputation, Dunlap said.
“This old church is known
everywhere I go,” he added, noting that it’s not uncommon for him to
meet strangers with some connection to the church.
“And most anyone with age asks if the old well is still running.”
It is, Dunlap said, referring to an artesian well, which used to supply the church with water.
People from all over the
country and Canada visit, too, Dunlap said. “When they come to
Louisiana and this area, they come to this church. It’s amazing how one
little old church in the middle of nowhere has touched so many lives.”
The congregation is
actually in its third building. After gathering first in homes, members
shared a building with Methodists, before building a log structure,
which was followed by a board house in 1871, and then this building.
In grade school, Dunlap wrote a paper on the building, not ever dreaming he’d one day be pastor, he said.
“It was a vibrant church
for a long time,” he said. But there were times when attendance
dwindled. Once, the church was kept going by four ladies meeting on
Saturdays by kerosene lamp. After talking a young fellow into being
their pastor, the ladies saw Macedonia become vibrant once again.
When Dunlap was called to pastor the church about five years ago, the congregation had again dwindled to about 10, he said.
“They didn’t have much money to pay a preacher, and I wasn’t much of preacher, so it was a perfect match,” he said, laughing.
Since then, the church has
added Sunday school rooms – with central air and heat – and air
conditioning window units to the worship building.
“We have all the modern
amenities, just in another building,” said Dunlap, who wants to keep
the old building as original as possible.
“We’re operating as much like every other church as possible,” he said.
“We’re financially sound, and probably
have more college graduates per capita than any church in the state,”
the pastor added. “One member is a professor at Southeastern [Baptist
Theological Seminary] and another helped put the first space ship in
orbit around the moon.”