Louisiana Freedmen Missionary Baptist General Association

Celebrating 156 Years of Service

Edwin Buggage Editor-in-Chief Data News Weekly

Faith and the Fight for Freedom
As we approach Juneteenth, the historical legacy of the fight for freedom, justice, and equality is of the utmost importance. Within the African American community faith has always been important. For it is the beacon light that’s led that’s continued to sustain a community that to this day continues to strive to be empowered in a nation where Lady Liberty’s light is sometimes dimmed for as the iconic poet Langston Hughes stated, “I am the Darker Brother” in his epic poem “I Too Sing America.”

An organization that’s been seminal in this fight is the Louisiana Freedmen Missionary Baptist General Association, established in 1868 by an ardent group of Christian men who assembled themselves to chart the way wherein they would maintain their enjoyment of freedom after the war between the states.

“We just held the 155th Annual Session of the Freedmen Association in its 156 years of existence. The purpose of the organization is to “serve congregations.” The association is made up of pastors and congregants of local Baptist Churches. While each church is autonomous, Freedmen serves as an arm to facilitate conflicts with the church, Christian education opportunities, peer support groups, and knowledge-based learning such as financial literacy,” says President and Moderator Dr. Mitchell Stevens.

A Profile in Courage
They have a long and storied history of courage and resilience. In their literature, it is described as:
The long night of national perplexity was ending. Nearly six or seven years had passed from the War Between the States (Civil War). The awful noise from cannons and guns had been silenced, but the miserable scars made upon the backs, wrists, and ankles of the slaves had not completely healed, and the innocent blood on the battlefields had not been dried. The founding fathers of this organization were homeless, yet in their hearts, they had a burning desire and an undying hope for freedom for themselves and their children. So this ardent group of men assembled themselves to chart the way wherein they would maintain the enjoyment of “freedom.” They selected God’s word for their doctrine and Christ’s teaching for their way of life. They chose the name Louisiana Freedmen Missionary Baptist Association with delicate tact which they knew would reflect their aspirations.

“Our mission is to empower congregations to serve their communities through community service, such as feeding the homeless and elderly, evangelism through teaching and preaching the Word of God to help individuals establish a relationship with God, and home and foreign missions to help the less fortunate,” remarks Stevens.

The Power of the Collective
The Louisiana Freedmen Missionary Baptist General Association is a strong institution that stands with a purpose of faith and fellowship. For the past 156 years displaying the love and hope of Christ, equipping Pastors and Churches where they can effectively bring positive change and necessities to their local communities.

Freedmen are comprised of 49 churches that encompass the Greater New Orleans area and as far as Napoleonville, Donaldsonville, and Gonzales. During their recent Annual Session, they gathered at the Greater King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church, where Reverend John T. White serves as Pastor, to exhibit faith and enjoy the fellowship of our fellow members. The week was filled with challenging and informative preaching and teaching, and information concerning our local and statewide governments. Each one of our Presidents gave inspiring messages on why we should conduct ourselves with the attitude of love.

“The major theme of the organization is The Message of the Master, Matthew 28:19-20. Each year of my presidency I have led the organization with sub themes based of “Continuing the Legacy.” This year’s Annual Session theme was “Continuing the Legacy with the Attitude of Love”. Each president of the different Ministries and Auxiliaries expounded of the theme during the annual address including myself as President/ Moderator.”

The Black Church: A Beacon of Light and the Road to Freedom
As we are witnessing threats to Democracy, these are serious and critical times for the nation. Churches and denominational groups are as relevant as ever in leading the struggle. For it has historically been through this lens, that’s been the moral compass that’s guided a nation towards the aspirations of its founding.

In these perilous times, it is imperative to promote the integrity of these institutions. When Freedmen was first organized it was established by these Free Blacks of Color in the late 1800s. They provided a foundation for the aspirations of a community in the pursuit of dignity, morality, and justice in the face of inequality. As was the case then and today, Freedmen and other groups are essential in this effort.

“We are in an age where the Black Church is still relevant, and it is important that we still “serve this present age with a calling to fulfill. The Black church, including denominational groups such as the Louisiana Freedmen Missionary Baptist General Association.”

This group continues its historical mission as beacons of light, guiding our community, and being an example of what we can do when we work together and aspire to reach higher. To be the conscience of not only New Orleans and the surrounding parishes, but of a nation.

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