Ozime Derouen was born in Cameron parish in 1870. In 1909, he was invited to attend the Louisiana Baptist Convention in Mansfield, Louisiana. Near the close of the session, Derouen was asked to speak to the convention about the need of the French people to hear the gospel. His message was not well received, because of his broken English and perhaps because the people were already tired from the long session. After the session ended, Charles and Mary Lou Jenkins invited Derouen, J.B. Lawrence – corresponding secretary of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Georgia Barnette – leader of Louisiana Women’s Missionary Union and a few others to go home with them. In the Jenkin’s home Derouen told his life’s story and expressed his deep concern for French speaking people. Mary Lou Jenkins suggested that he be employed by Louisiana Baptist Convention as a French Missionary. Lawrence said that it would cost twelve hundred dollars, plus a team and a buggy, and stated that the convention did not have sufficient funds for such expenditure.
Mary Lou Jenkins and Georgia Barnette persisted in their interest and effort to employ a French Missionary. Barnette wrote letters to women of the state asking them to give money for the cause, and she got a good response. Soon they were in position to ask the new corresponding secretary, E. O. Ware, to secure a man for the job and to promise that the women would guarantee his support. In 1910 Derouen was chosen for the job. Then Jenkins gave him a horse and buggy and Albert Rives, also of Mansfield, gave him an additional horse.
In the meantime a devout layman, T. J. Moffett who was employed by the Frisco Railroad, which operated between Houston, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana, was much concerned that the French people have an opportunity to hear the Gospel in their own language. Moffett secured the help of his pastor, E. R. Carruth, who began to preach in a one-room school in Faquetaique, a few miles east of Eunice, a portion of St. Landry and Evangeline parishes. Faquetaique derives from the Indian word “Turkey Hen”. Through the efforts of T. J. Moffett and J. B. Lawrence of Louisiana Baptist Convention, Reverend Ozime Derouen of Bell City was appointed as full time Missionary.
The Christian people from Eunice continued to witness and cultivate relationships with singing, praying and bible reading. In the spring of 1910, Ozime Derouen arrived in the Faquetaique area to begin his work with the French Speaking people. Large crowds attended the services. In May, Derouen wrote to several Baptist leaders and invited them to attend the first baptism of his Baptist Ministry at which Reverend E. R. Carruth baptized thirty-one people. He gave the converts their church letters. The group met, and the Articles of Faith and the Church Covenant was read and adopted. The Church of Faquetaique was then established.
One of the converts was L. C. Smith, who became a great French Missionary. Among the visitors present at the service were R. M. Boone, editor of The Chronicle and C. C. Cottingham, President of Louisiana College. Dr. Cottingham was instrumental in getting Bro. L. C. Smith to attend college.
When the Roman Catholic priests realized the influence that Derouen was having on the people, they influenced school authorities to deny Derouen the use of the school house for preaching. In the afternoon of the day of the baptisms noted earlier, a church was organized with thirty charter members. It was named Faquetaique Baptist Church (the oldest French speaking church in Louisiana). Reverend E. R. Carruth was called as the first pastor, May 31, 1910.
In November 1911, Reverend Carruth felt led to another church. In February 1912, Reverend S. O. Olivier became the pastor. During the year, April 28, 1912, Lucien C. Smith was ordained as a minister of the gospel. He moved to Pineville, La. in 1913 and entered the Academy of Louisiana College. His wife and three children entered school at Pineville with him, and sometimes he was in class with the other members of his family. He earned his college degree in 1923. He then entered the Baptist Bible Institute (now the New Orleans Theological Seminary) in New Orleans for two years. Soon after entering college, Brother Smith was employed by the Louisiana Baptist Convention as a field missionary. In 1936, he was then employed by the Home Mission Board (North American Mission Board) as a general missionary to the French and served until his retirement in 1952.
In April 1916, a fire destroyed the school and church building. After this fire, it was decided the need for the development of the French Mission work, thus the move to build Acadia Baptist Academy, which was opened in 1917.
Reverend Olivier served the church until 1916, and Reverend Gibson W. Taylor followed as pastor until 1917. Reverend M. W. Salassi was called to serve. He had a home in Eunice and commuted to the church field. The parsonage, which had been built under the leadership of Reverend Olivier, was then sold to Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Aguillard, who was converted at Faquetaique Church and served as a pastor in many churches in Louisiana.
In 1918, a new church building was built on land lent by Mr. David Smith, father of Theo and Willie Smith, on the Old Chataignier Road (now highway 758). A year later it was moved across the road on land lent by Mr. William Young, father of Johnnie, Willie, Doris and Noah Young. There the church remained until 1933 when a new and larger building was built on land donated by Mr. C. P. Aguillard, a tract along highway 758 and highway 29, where the Chataignier Baptist Cemetery is today.
The Reverend Dolzy McGee, Lastie Soileau, Adea Vidrine, Theodore Cormier and Stafford Hebert were pastors after Reverend Salassi. Unfortunately, records of these years were lost so credit cannot be given.
During the year of 1942, Reverend and Mrs. Amadie Janise and family moved into a nice three bedroom home, on land which was donated by Mr. C. P. Aguillard to build the parsonage. It was located across from the present Chataignier Baptist Cemetery.
The church became self-supporting, and the church voted to change the name from Faquetaique Baptist Church to Chataignier Baptist Church.
The church building was remodeled with classrooms, and a kitchen was added along with new pews costing $3,150.00 and a Hammond organ for $3,000.00. A tent, folding chairs, lanterns, microphone, an amplifier, and a folding organ was also purchased, and these items were used in several communities for weeks of service in tent revivals. Souls were won to the Lord and added to the church roll.
Reverend S. W. Mahaffey was called and accepted in November 1953. He did not speak French, but his wife, Marie did. During the time Brother Mahaffey served, Mr. C. P. Aguillard had a vision for a church in Chataignier. When the J. C. Heck home and land in Chataignier came up for sale, Mr. C. P. Aguillard offered members an even exchange of property. The members agreed, and before long, Reverend Mahaffey and his family were moved into a larger home, and the old parsonage was sold and moved away. Brother Mahaffey resigned as pastor September 30, 1957.
Reverend Theo Cormier had recently resigned First Church in Ville Platte, so he came, once more to serve the Chataignier Church. Reverend Cormier had a desire to begin a building fund by urging people to pledge and buy bonds. After the morning service in March 1960, the members met on the newly acquired property and held a ground breaking ceremony, with Mr. C. P. Aguillard turning the first spade of dirt. Lemoine Brothers of Bunkie were chosen as contractors, and D’Avy and Veltin of Opelousas were the architects. Construction began immediately on the $30,000.99 sanctuary.
Reverend Theo Cormier had been appointed full time minister for the French Radio Program before he could serve in the new building. The first service was held on January 22, 1961.
On March 1, 1961, Reverend William Mitchell and family moved to Chataignier from Athens, La. During his service at Chataignier, Mr. William “Bill” Fair and family came from Opelousas and united with the church as he was called to be the music director.
Reverend Mitchell led and helped in the building program to build the new classrooms, kitchen and recreational room.
By June 1964, the church was doing well financially, and Mr. C. P. Aguillard made a move to retire the bonds the members had bought. The following May, a note burning ceremony was held.
In the meantime, Reverend Carl Conrad, Director of French Missions in Louisiana was instrumental in helping the church borrow $10,000.00 from the Home Mission Board to build a new home for the pastor. The late Curtis Johnson submitted the lowest bid of $13,000.00. The old home was moved away, the foundation was laid in October 1964 and the new home was ready to be moved into the following April.
In 1969 once more the church took on a new name, First Baptist Church of Chataignier.
In July 1970, Reverend Mitchell resigned to accept the call to Boyce, La. The Chataignier Church was debt-free.
One month later Reverend Joe Blair accepted the call as pastor. Reverend Blair had a way with young people and several were baptized in the two years he was pastor. Brother Blair accepted a call from Franklinton, La. February 1, 1972.
Our next pastor was Reverend Don Hunt, who came to Chataignier in June 1972. He believed in leading the youth and encouraging them to attend Christian functions as much as possible. Brother Hunt, saw a need for a bus, and began a fund to purchase a custom-made bus and it was paid in full ($9,000.00) when it arrived in September. That Christmas, a group from the church traveled to Glorieta, New Mexico. He served until October 1974.
Once again the search for a pastor began. Reverend J. P. Buth accepted the call and moved to Chataignier in 1975 and served until July 1976.
Reverend Steve Bennett was scheduled to lead a revival in Chataignier, at the same time Brother Buth was leaving to go to Thibodeaux, La. Reverend Bennett preached, and some members inquired about him becoming the pastor. The Lord led him to become pastor in August 1976. Brother Bennett enlisted the help of many youth to apply plywood to the classroom ceilings to prevent the constant drip of coal-tar from a recent re-roofing job. They paid the youth $500.00, which they used on a trip to Eureka Springs, Ark. to attend the “Passion Play”. Brother Bennett moved to Schnectady, New York, September10, 1978.
Brother and Mrs. William Mitchell returned once again to pastor Chataignier Church on July 1, 1979. The women of the church compiled a recipe book, and the youth were given the proceeds to use on a trip to Eureka Springs, Ark. Reverend Mitchell served the church until June 15, 1987. He was called again to Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Athens, La., the same church he came from when he was first called to Chataignier in 1961.
Reverend Porter and Mrs. Lazenby came to Chataignier December 6, 1987 and served until January 1994. Mrs. Lazenby was a wonderful hostess and loved her WMU ladies. Brother Porter passed away while serving at Chataignier Church.
Reverend Alvin Ogea served as interim pastor from February 1994 to July 1994.
Reverend Rick Bailey came to Chataignier in September 1994 until January 31, 1997.
Reverend James Wooten and family came to serve on the field October 1997 until June 1998.
On March 17, 1999, Reverend Vernon Martindale was called as interim pastor. On January 9, 2000, Brother Vernon was voted as pastor. While Brother Vernon served at Chataignier, the church parking area was blacktopped. New appliances were purchased for the kitchen, and vinyl siding was installed around the roof over-hang of the parsonage. On October 16, 2005, the church agreed to purchase the property next door to the church on the north side. Reverend Martindale loved to visit, and Mrs. Elaine enjoyed taking pictures and sharing them with the church members. Brother Martindale resigned January 21, 2007.
Reverend Tom Carpenter became interim pastor April 2007 and brought new ideas and suggestions to the congregation. Brother Tom helped the church discover a new vision for the church. He was loved by all and served until April 2008.
On July 13, 2008 Reverend Gary Mitchell became transitional pastor for Chataignier. A year later, Brother Gary was voted as pastor. He became the bivocational pastor, as Brother Gary also worked for the Louisiana Baptist Convention in the Pastoral Leadership Team as the Bivocational / Smaller Church Strategist. Brother Gary, felt like he and his wife Elaine had come full circle and was “back home”. Brother Gary moved to Chataignier with his family, Reverend and Mrs. William Mitchell in 1961. Brother Gary married the former Elaine Smith in December 1962 and was the second couple to be married in the new Chataignier church. Elaine had attended and was a member of Chataignier Church as a child, her grandmother being a charter member of the church.
Chataignier Church heard that Brother Bob Courville may be looking to serve as music minister in a church if called. Before even talking to Brother Bob, the church voted to call him to serve at Chataignier if he wanted to come as music minister. It was a “God Thing”, because we offered and he accepted. Brother Bob’s father, Brother Isaac Courville and his brother, Brother Arthur Courville also served and as music directors for Chataignier for many years. Brother Bob has led the choir in Easter and Christmas musicals and his wife, Margie is always willing to lend a hand with her musical and decorating talents.
On July 26, 2009, Brother Gregg Gilmore and his wife, Mandi, with their family, joined with Chataignier as he accepted the call as youth minister. Brother Gregg has joined with other churches to do mission work and attended church camps with our youth and allowed them to build relationships with other young people and most of all, with each other.
We feel truly blessed and have come a long way from Faquetaique Baptist Church in 1910, then Chataignier Baptist Church, now, First Baptist Church Chataignier. We have had so many dedicated Christians who forged the way through good and rough times in order for us, their descendants, to be where we are today. We have had successful vacation Bible Schools, led by hard working dedicated leaders and volunteers. By-laws were adopted and a Leadership Team established. In recent months we have made necessary improvements on the church building and parsonage. The church purchased a garage for our donated van, and a 60 inch plasma screen for the sanctuary. The parking lot has been repainted and new signs erected in assigned areas. A 10’ x 20’ building was donated, and a new copy machine was also donated to the church.
Such has been some of the activities and achievements of Chataignier Baptist Church. It is a far cry from the early membership, who met in prayer with Reverend E. R. Carruth and Reverend Ozime Derouen in an effort to begin a church. However, the success and achievements of today are the harvest of their persistence and devoted work, much prayer and faith in God. The church has never lost it’s vision from the beginning, was to create a place for Christians to worship, to grow and to make disciples.
To the present membership, those who once served at Chataignier and friends, we sincerely thank you for being a part of our history.
The Following were Charter Members:
Salvation means “deliverance” or “rescue”. We are saved from the penalty of sin the moment we believe. And we will be saved from the presence of sin when we leave this earthly body to spend eternity with God. Salvation is more than a “get out of jail free” card. It is more than a ticket into heaven. Eternal life begins the moment we believe, and God’s desire is for us to experience the abundant life here on earth (John 10:10). It is passing from spiritual death to spiritual life in the twinkling of God’s eye. We are not saved by how we behave but by how we believe. If you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame. (Romans 10:9-11).
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1)
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
If you can’t remember a time when you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why not clear that up right now. If you have never asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior and would like to accept that precious gift from God, you can do that right now, today, with a prayer from your heart like:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you today as a sinner in need of a Savior. I confess that I have sinned and made mistakes in my life. I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is Your Son, who was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life and gave Himself as a sacrifice to pay the penalty of my sins. I believe that He rose from the dead on the third day and now lives forever in heaven. I come to you in faith believing. Thank you for giving me the gift of eternal life.
In Jesus name,