History of Homer Presbyterian Church
Written in 2000 for The
Ford Museum Exhibit
When settlers from east of the Mississippi flooded into
Claiborne Parish in the mid-1800's, they bought with them an abiding faith in a
sovereign Being and their religious heritage - while some historians referred
to Claiborne Parish as "the wilds of Louisiana" to these early
settlers it was a Promised Land.
Soon churches began to spring-up. At first, most met in homes; services were
sporadic and conducted by itinerant preachers.
Among the earliest evangelist was the Rev. J. Franklin Ford, who became
known as the Father of Red River Presbytery.
Shortly after Homer became the parish seat of Claiborne
Parish in 1848, Rev. Ford was invited to organize a church in Homer. On November 4, 1851, six persons meet with
Ford in the Homer Baptist Church.
"After divine service", the Presbyterian Church of Homer was
For the first 20 years, the life of the church was
static. She had no pastor or church
building to call her own. Her members
were consumed with earning a livelihood and establishing a homeplace in
"wilds of Louisiana". When the
Civil War erupted in 1861, the church experienced turmoil and despair - yet she
was faithful to her calling and mission.
Much of her survival goes to the credit of the Rev. John
T. Davidson, a Presbyterian minister who moved to Claiborne Parish from Georgia
in 1852. While supporting his family by
teaching and farming, he served as an evangelist not only for the Homer church
but churches in surrounding parishes. It
was not until 1871 that Davidson became the first full time pastor of the Homer
church, which met alternately in the Methodist and Baptist churches.
The year following Davidson's installation, the
congregation initiated plans to build a church.
Lots 9-10-11-12, one block to the north and west of the courthouse
square, were purchased for $400. Shortly
thereafter, a white frame church with green shutters, a belfry, and steeple was
erected amidst massive oak trees.
Tradition tells the church bell had been salvaged from a steamboat,
which had been sunk in the Mississippi River during the Civil War when the
Union forces occupied Vicksburg. Today,
the bell is on display in the H. S. Ford Museum.
After Davidson's death in 1881, the church had no
resident minister until 1909. During
this 28-year period, supply preachers again conducted services at least
The Rev William A. Rolle became the second resident
minister in 1909. During his tenure, a
manse was built next door to the church.
For over 70 years, this residence served as the home for 14 pastors and
their families. Over the years,
additions and many renovations were made.
When additional space was needed to enlarge the church facility in 1986,
the manse was sold and moved to a lot across from the National Guard Armory in
Homer where it remains today.
After the resignation of Rev. Rolle in 1913, the next
resident minister was the Rev. J. C. McQueen.
He and Mrs. McQueen had been missionaries to Africa and returned to the
states after Mrs. McQueen was seriously injured when charged by a herd of
elephants. McQueen served the Homer
church until 1916. Following his
departure, the church was again without a resident pastor for the next three
years --- yet services continued on a regular basis.
In 1919, at the height of the Homer oil boom, the Rev. S.
P. Collins accepted a call to become the church's fourth full time pastor. During his pastorate, a tabernacle was built
on the south lawn for revivals and a mission church was organized in the Homer
Oilfield. In later years, this out post
church become a Baptist church and the genesis of the present Calvary Baptist
Following Collins's resignation, the Rev. Arthur C. Evans
accepted the call of
the congregation in 1924.
During his pastorate, the original white-frame church was demolished to
make room for a larger, more modern facility.
After visiting a church in Italy, Texas, the building committee selected
a two-story structure of modified Spanish architecture, which featured a red-
tile roof, gray-stuccoded walls embellished with flint pebbles. The sanctuary was on the upper floor while
Sunday School rooms, an assembly room, and kitchen occupied
the ground floor. The church building
was completed in 1926.
Just as the Great Depression of the 1930's engulfed the
nation, the Rev. Charles G. McClure accepted a call from the church in
1931. During his tenure, the debt on the
stucco church was paid. The church was
dedicated on October 20, 1935.
Rev. McClure's tenure ushered in a new beginning for the
Homer church. From that time forward,
the church has had a full time pastor.
The following have led the church as she ministered to her congregation
and reached out to the community.
Howard H. Gordon Sr.
Leonard H. Sweeney
Jack K. Bennett
John R. Bradshaw
Walter C. Easton
Howard H.(Flash) Gordon, Jr.
John D. McClelland
Under the leadership of these above named ministers, the
church has moved forward in many ways.
The Presbyterian Village of Homer and the Evergreen
Presbyterian Vocational School (now Evergreen Ministries) had their beginnings
rooted in the interest and support of the Homer church.
For many years, the Haynesville Presbyterian Church was
dormant until the Homer church provided leadership, which prompted its becoming
a vital church in its community.
In 1983, the first woman was elected by the congregation
to serve on the Session, the church's governing body. Today, there are 14 women elders along with 23
men elders who serve on a 3-year rotating basis.
Expansion dominated the second half of the 20th
century. Due to an increased membership,
an education building was added to the backside of the stucco church
building. This five-room classroom
facility was completed in 1959. Again,
five more classrooms and kitchen were added in 1962.
On February 2, 1981, the congregation and community
witnessed the beginning of the demolition of the stucco church. A Gothic-style building was selected to
replace the 55-year old structure. The
new one-story building featured a sanctuary which seats 150, faceted stained
glass windows and a foyer that connects the sanctuary to the education
The first service held in church was on Palm Sunday,
April 1, 1982. Formal dedication
services were held on May 2, 1982 during the pastorate of the Rev. Walter C.
A Fellowship Hall with modern kitchen facilities was
added to the north end of the education building in 1985. Later, a courtyard and parking lot completed
the church's current facilities.
Since 1851, the church's history is embedded in the hopes
and visions, disappointments and frustrations of countless men and women, both
clergy and laity. As she stands on the
threshold of the 21st century, we believe in her future as we honor and respect