History has been defined as a "chronological" record of significant events, as affecting a nation or institution, usually including an explanation of their causes or as "a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events."
Let us turn back the hand of time 130 years ago, to a weary and worn group of people, who had only a dim light that they could see afar off. No doubt that God shed the bright light on this group of people and gave them strength and courage to move onward, and their faith in God surely paid off. Therefore, we pause to salute the pioneers for their efforts.
It was the year 1865, when the black people of our land received their freedom. These poor people were filled with mixed emotions. Although weary, oppressed, penniless and sick at heart for many years, they strived for a higher cause.
The time was at hand when the people needed a builder, a leader, and an earthly source of inspiration--so God sent Rev. Luke Billoups, Sr., who came from Richmond, Virginia, settling in West Baton Rouge Parish, later to be used as a great instrument in His work. Although Rev. Luke Billoups, Sr. was sold as a slave, he was freed several years before the end of slavery and was made an overseer at Bellview Plantation. He was quite versatile, as was demonstrated in his work as a carpenter, blacksmith and cooper. He made barrels, weapons and coffins. He was married to Eliza and to this union; two sons and four daughters were born.
God blessed him with a family and many skills, and also with wealth. He governed his family, used his skills, and with his wealth--purchased one mile of land, beginning at the Mississippi River and extending westward. This village took of his name, and thus was the beginning of Lukeville. Because of his race pride, Rev. Billoups permitted only "Blacks" to buy of this tract of land.
In spite of his very busy civic life, he had a greater calling, that was a command to preach, which he obeyed willingly, even though a building was not available. He donated a piece of his land for "Antioch Missionary Baptist Church", and served as carpenter for the first church building. There wasn't much fashion, but devotion. There wasn't light, but the Bible, the word of God, gave the light for the way. There was very little warmth except for one stove, but there was the warmth of God's love and the love they had for each other.
Now, Rev. Luke Billoups, Sr., led by God, used by God, paved the way. Through his many hardships, he experienced a rich and successful pastor ship from 1865 to 1894.
The Lord blessed Rev. Luke Billoups, Sr. in another way. His life emulated in such a way that his son was called to preach the word of God. At the end of Rev. Luke Billoups, Sr.'s pastorate, of twenty-nine (29) years, his son, Rev. Luke Billoups, Jr., became Antioch's second pastor. During the fifty (50) year span, Antioch continued its progress, for Rev. Luke Billoups, Jr. exemplified his father's work. He was an eminent leader who served as sheriff of West Baton Rouge Parish until he resigned to become pastor of Antioch.
After the first church building was blown during a storm, it was rebuilt and remodeled several times under Rev. Billoups leadership. Through all of those years of success mingled with obstacles, as life deals with everyone and everything at one time or another, David recorded in Psalms 34:19--"Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivereth him out of them all."
We have marched on, and we have looked to God for deliverance and guidance. God has never failed us yet, and has always sent us spiritual leadership. We have truly been blessed, for the one hundred thirty years (130), we have had only 9 pastors, and some of them left only as a result of God calling them home. The 11 pastors include:
||Rev. Luke Billoups, Sr. - Founder
||Rev. Luke Billoups, Jr.
||Rev. R. A. Clark
|| 2 Years
||Rev. John H. Thompson
||A few months
||Rev. Sam Singleton, Jr.
|| 1 Year
||Rev. R. C. Smith
||nearly 23 Years
||Rev. Robert Douglas Thomas
||Rev. Ricky Carter
|| 5 Years
||Rev. James Allen Terrance
|| 7 Years
||Rev. Michael A. Otkins, Sr.
||Rev. Elvin Lacey
Rev. Robert C. Smith was responsible for the erection of the third new building to which the doors were opened in June, 1957. Rev. Smith was called to rest February 1, 1971.
Antioch continued to move forward under the leadership of our 7th pastor, Rev. Robert Douglas Thomas. Rev. Thomas proved himself, not only as a great preacher as was demonstrated in his first revival in 1972, where many sinners in their fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties accepted Christ and were baptized. He tried hard to get his congregation to follow the teachings of the Bible. He stressed stewardship as it is taught in the Bible; and demonstrated it in his own life. He was an every Sunday and through the week leader and pastor. He gave not only his time and talent. He gave more than the tithe throughout the 17 years he was here with us. He said, "People are not won to Christ by mere words, but by words which are backed with a life to illustrate their truth." He led us in building and furnishing our Education Building, which houses our church library, classrooms for all departments, choir robe room, kitchen with a large commercial stove and all modern equipment, a lavishly furnished conference room, a large fellowship hall and dining area, restroom facilities, church office, pastor's office and all rooms completed with air conditioning and heating. Our church has had delegates to attend the National Sunday School and BTU Congress.
Our church paid quarterly in the unified budget of the Louisiana Missionary Baptist Association, and continues to be represented in the right category of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. Incorporated. And lastly, Rev. R.D. Thomas led us in extending our property line by purchasing a tract of land facing Antioch Baptist Church, measuring two hundred thirty and two tenths (230.2) feet by one hundred seventy (170) feet.
God called this shepherd, Rev. R. D. Thomas from this earthly life to eternal rest on November 9, 1988.
After the passing of our beloved pastor, Rev. R.D. Thomas, we were again in need of a builder, a leader, and an earthly source of inspiration, so God sent us Rev. Ricky Carter. Rev. Ricky Carter was elected on Tuesday, March 7, 1989, as the eight pastor of Antioch Baptist Church.
Under the leadership of Rev. Ricky Carter: our last church note as retired. Our new church annex was dedicated to the memory of Rev. Robert Douglas Thomas, and our in-house church recording ministry was established so we could share religious services with the sick and shut-ins.
Rev. James Allen Terrance, our ninth pastor, served as interim pastor from September 1994 to January 15, 1995. On January 15, 1995, Rev. Terrance became the official pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Terrance was a spiritual teacher and preacher of the gospel, emphasizing Sunday School, Bible study, and God fearing sermons on Sunday mornings to direct and help us in our Christian stewardship. He instituted our church recording ministry heard on WXOK on Sunday. He re-initiated the youth department, girls scouts and an after school tutorial program, and dedicated himself to working full-time in the service of the Lord.
Our tenth and current pastor, Rev. Michael A. Otkins, became the official pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in October, 2003. Rev. Otkins is a spiritual teacher and preacher of the gospel, Sunday School and Bible study. His spirit-filled sermons teach us in our daily living to become better Christians and how to live by the Word of the Lord.
We have passed over the rough roads that led to here. We have pitched our tents on land near turbulent waters, but the leaders who have waited in the camp have caught the gleam of a new day, and have each in his turn brought us into greater sacred avenues of success.
The Church today stands as a city that sixtieth on a hill, with its light, though it is limited, but capable God sent leaders, shedding rays of light throughout this land. For, from here have gone stewards who have made outstanding contributions in various fields of endeavor, to give humble prestige to both those sent and the senders.
Since, we, who are here have been helped along the way by those who have served and gone before; we too, must so inspire those coming on that the light will continue burning through them, until a new generation has caught the gleam and has gone steadily marching on.
We pray, to ever hold to those principles of faith and doctrine that have made us useful and inspirational. May we ever keep our wicks trimmed for service to God and our fellowman, and may the pilot light of love, truth, humility, peace and understanding keep burning, that even the unborn will be able to catch its glow.
We have taken a retrospective view of Antioch, we have seen from whence we've come, and we feel, in a sense, that we know where we are going, however, realizing that, we don't feel no ways tired; God has not brought us this far to leave us, and we know who hold's all of our tomorrows. Hence, we know who's been holding and guiding us here at Antioch.
As we close the book on our church's history, let us be proud and thankful for our heritage. Let us keep humble enough to be of service, that the Master may be able to point with pride to us as those who have kept the faith, who have stayed in the fight for right and righteousness, and who, one by one, will answer to the higher call from a righteous Father.
Let us pray that our church will continue in its efforts to move forward, and that God would give more men like our founders; men with strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands.