Copyright 1994 Timothy Hebert
There are many people that I could dedicate this book to ...my family - wife and children, parents, grandparents; our pastors; prominent church leaders; the early circuit riders. All of these have helped to form the Houma Methodist Church and have helped me to put together this history. So, in general, this history is dedicated to all of the above. If I had to pick one person, I guess I would like to dedicate it to my grandfather, Hayes Marcel, Sr. He wasn't a big leader or a big financial contributor; but he was there ... serving his church and his God for over 50 years with his presence, his prayers, his service, and his stewardship. When he passed away, I remember my grandmother saying to us that she hoped that we would grow up to be like my grandfather. Today I still use his life as a measuring stick ... to try to be as good a Christian as my grandfather. So, to my grandfather and to all of the simple people like him who have made up our Methodist Church, I would like to dedicate this history of Methodism in Houma and Terrebonne Parish.
I have organized the book according to the history of the First United Methodist Church of Houma, since it has been the largest faction of Methodism in the area. From 1842 to 1909, the material has been organized by year. From 1909 to the present, the material is separated by pastors of First Church. Three special sections have been separated and put under a separate heading; these are listed in the table of contents. You may notice that I have more information on the first thirty years of the 20th century than on the most recent thirty years. I tried to concentrate on researching the first hundred years of our history, since much of it was a mystery. I could have included much more on the last thirty years. For the next anniversary, I'll try to cover it more thoroughly. I also would have liked to have more details on the people ... preachers like Lewis Reed and Robert Martin, and the lay people. I have mentioned just a few of members of the congregation in the text. Most of them were involved in the first half of this century. Needless to say, the history of our church involves thousands of lay persons who have contributed in some way. Again, if you find some obvious oversight, please let me know so that we can add it to the next edition of our history. I wanted to thank everyone who helped on this project by name, but the list became quite long. Besides, there are so many people to thank, I might accidentally leave someone out. So, let me just thank everyone ... pastors, members of the congregation, and everyone who assisted me in some way. This project began about three years ago. I had come across some early references to the Methodist Church while researching at the courthouse. After mentioning it to Rev. Bowdon, I decided to look into our history. The longest "history" story on our church was a short (two page) piece written by Ella Hooper over ifty years ago. Almost nothing was known of the early history of the church. The first hundred years was covered by about four sentences. I figured that there must be more to the story than that. After looking through the courthouse records, I then turned to the church records. I was referred to several shoe boxes thatwere scattered around the church. After talking to a couple of the older members of the church, it became clear that I would have to look elsewhere for information from our first hundred years. Rev. Bowdon managed to find the funds to help me to go to the Conference Archives in Shreveport. It was a little disappointing, at first, when I asked to look at material from Houma/Terrebonne. Their books and catalogs had virtually no mention of the area. But I did find the two greatest sources of early material: the Conference Journals and the New Orleans Christian Advocate. I would visit the Archives twice more over the next two years to look for material. It takes quite a while to look through over 4000 newspapers on microfilm, 100 years of Conference Journals, and boxes of other miscellaneous materials.
As for documentation and references, you will notice there are none. I will be depositing my notes and sources at the First United Methodist Church of Houma and the Archives at Shreveport. If you have a question as to the source of any piece of information, you can contact me about it. Most of the material from the first hundred years was obtained from Conference Journals and the Advocate. Most of the material from the last fifty years was obtained from personal interviews. After I returned, I started scheduling interviews. Although no one could remember everything, I managed to piece together a history by combining everyone's memories. I tried to contact others ... former pastors, people from other Methodist Churches, older people in the community ... with mixed results. There are several areas that I would have liked to have covered more thoroughly, especially the histories of the smaller Methodist Churches in the area. Whenever there is an obvious gap or exclusion, it is because the information wasn't available or no one provided me with the information. If you find that you know something that was left out or is incorrect, please let me know.
METHODISM ALONG THE BAYOU
by Timothy Hebert
First United Methodist Church of Houma