Pictured is Ninth Baptist Church in Ville Platte that celebrated its 147th anniversary this past Sunday. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
147 years of NBC
Despite a proclamation from the governor limiting public gatherings in the wake of the coronavirus, the faithful of Ninth Baptist Church in Ville Platte turned out Sunday to praise God in worship in order to celebrate the 147th anniversary of the church.
The theme for the celebration was “The Model Church,” taken from the Acts of the Apostles.
The service featured musical selections from the church’s choir and a performance by the church’s praise dancers as well as recognition of the members 75-years-old or older.
Heather Nicole Smith recited a poem she had written which explained the history of the church.
“God saw a need to plant a seed in the community of Ville Platte,” she said as she began the poem. “They called the place Ninth Home Mission Church, you see. A place that we call home for you and me.”
“These negroes were poor, and, yet, they still grew God’s church through the storm,” she continued. “They created a place in the community where worship became the norm. During that time, negroes were viewed as less thans, property, or even dirt. Yet, they showed up and showed out anyway and endured a lot of hurt.”
Smith’s poem then went over each of the church’s pastors beginning with James Stephens.
“Napoleon Thomas took over after James Stephens in sharing God’s glory and then passed the torch to Edgar Hudson to continue to tell the story,” said Smith, “the story that gives us all redemption, freedom, and access to eternal life. A life that is endless once we finish dealing with this human strife.”
Smith’s poem then continued about Willie C. Frank, who was a little giant.
“In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement,” she later said, “another giant stepped up to the plate. Melvin Leon Thomas took the reins, and it wasn’t a second too late.”
Later in the poem, Smith said, “After 46 years of building God’s church, M.L. Thomas followed the call to pass the torch, and, fortunately, we didn’t have to go past the front porch. A quiet giant stepped into position to lead, and God’s plan for us didn’t take long to gather speed. We are 11 years into this ride with Darwan T. Lazard. A ride that continues to grow on the shoulders of the giants before us indeed.”
Smith concluded her poem by saying, “Today we celebrate the journey thus far and what’s to come. We know the One that has carried us for 147 years through many blood, sweat, heartache, and tears. May we all praise God for showing us the way.”
The service was a joint service with Mohorn Baptist Church in Plaisance and features songs from Mohorn’s choir.
Guest speaker for the service was Mohorn’s pastor Nicholas D. Thomas who is a native son of Ninth Baptist Church.
“It’s a blessing to be home,” he said. “If you burn bridges, they might not ask you home. So, I must have done something right that your pastor allows me to come home and to be with my original church family,” he said.
“I want to first give glory to God for this wonderful pastor who I call my pastor and my friend. Our relationship became even closer as your pastor and I used to drive to Pineville to attend seminary classes at night.”
Thomas concluded by saying, “I’m so humbled to be here today. I’m just excited, and I know with all that’s going on in the world it’s great to be in the house of God.”