Bogalusa’s First Presbyterian began with one man and a vision

Published 8:23 am Monday, August 18, 2014

There is a passage from the Bible that reads, “Where there is no vision the people perish; but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” King James Version, Proverbs 29:18.

The message here is that one man with a vision can make a lasting difference. One such man was T.D. Stadler.

More than 100 years ago, this man dreamed of bringing God’s love to others in Bogalusa. He didn’t just think about it. Stadler followed his dream with a plan of action.

Stadler was a railroad agent and moved to Bogalusa from New Orleans. When he found no Presbyterian church in his new home he began teaching a men’s Sunday school class in the dining room of the Colonial Hotel. Stadler didn’t give up on his dream when the Colonial Hotel no longer had space available for his class. He simply moved the class to his home on Avenue D.

From this humble beginning First Presbyterian Bogalusa was born. Soon the class at Stadler’s home had to find a larger space to accommodate the growing fellowship. The first regular meeting place for the Sunday school class and subsequent preaching service was the auditorium of the school building located on Avenue B in the block north of the present Post Office building.

The Rev. J.M. Williams was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Covington at that time. Williams became the first minister to hold services for the Presbyterians in the new community of Bogalusa.

When this band of believers grew from one man with a vision to 18 men and women, First Presbyterian of Bogalusa became a reality. A commission was sent from Presbytery in New Orleans to organize the new church. The commission of Presbytery consisted of W.T. Palmer, J.C. Barr, George Summey, J.G. Hardie and Williams. This meeting occurred on Nov. 11, 1907.

The original church building was dedicated on March 20, 1910, and is still used today as the sanctuary.

It has been renovated several times and has increased in size and programs through the years.

Edmond La Verge, the first pastor, led the congregation from 1908 until 1914. Eleven other men have led the Presbyterian congregation through the years for varying degrees of time. A.C. Ingram held the position of pastor for 30 years from 1927 until 1957. Dr. Jim Stayton is the current pastor.

First Presbyterian meets at 511 Avenue D, with Sunday school beginning at 9:30 a.m. Worship service follows at 11 a.m. On Wednesday mornings from 6:50 until 8 a.m. a hot breakfast fellowship with a short Bible study is offered. This is a community breakfast, not just for Presbyterians, and donations are welcome.