Mandeville pastor and others hope to resurrect historic church

ST. TAMMANY PARISH (WGNO) – Magnolia Baptist Church is inactive on Fairview Drive in St. Tammany Parish. Looking at a map, Magnolia Baptist is near Madisonville, but in the late 1800s it was an area known as Houltonville, a predominantly black woodland community.

It may be hard to imagine when looking at Magnolia Baptist Church that less than ten years ago services were held in the nearly abandoned church. The church congregation no longer met once their pastor, the Reverend Frank Sheridan, died.

“The church was actually left in ruins, and I walked by one day and said, ‘That can’t be.’ There’s too much history here. It’s part of history, of a culture that is very important to our community,” said Donald Burris, pastor of Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church.

Burris, along with historical curator Bonnie Dennis, who is a member of local and state chapters of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, are currently working to restore and preserve Magnolia Baptist Church, so that it can be recognized as a historical monument. and, again, serving the community.

“It was very important in the civil rights movement,” Dennis explained. “It was very important in this area in terms of the black community, to have a place and a sense of community. This church has been instrumental for them in terms of bringing this community together and maintaining it.

Formerly known as Eagle Eye Baptist Church, Magnolia Baptist was built in 1906 and served as the primary place of worship for the residents of Houltonville.

“Some of them knew the fighting, but again they didn’t lose faith. They haven’t lost hope,” Burris said.

The church has no electricity or running water, so right now that’s their biggest obstacle. Burris and Dennis hope the community can step in.

“So if we could get someone to donate money or services to get the investigation, for example,” Dennis said. “We have a tree hanging over the side threatening the side of the church at the moment, so there are some real basic things that need to take place to secure the facility.”

Burris and Dennis are also working to establish a nonprofit organization, the Magnolia Baptist Church Foundation, for tax-deductible donations.

Comments are closed.