This church is not original to the Whitney Plantation. The structure was erected after the Civil War in Paulina, on the east bank of the Mississippi River in St. James Parish. For many years, this was the only African-American church in the immediate area, and the former slaves of several River Road plantations attended its services. The church donated this historic structure to the Whitney when the community built a new chapel in 1999. The text below is a history of the church on the website of the First Community-Antioch Baptist Church:
“The Antioch Baptist Church was conceived in the hearts of the former slaves in 1868. During this period in history, racism existed in ways that most of us have only read about. It was at this time that God called some brave men from the Paulina area to join together and form a burial society. The society was an organization that operated similarly to our present day burial insurances. Members paid nickels and dimes in membership dues and the society was responsible for their funeral expenses. The name Anti-Yoke was chosen for this society. This name spoke freedom – not tied or bound to anyone.
In September of 1870, the Anti-Yoke Society purchased two tracks of land in Paulina, LA from Michael Martin and erected a building that was used for church services. The original structure still exists today. This building became known as the Anti-Yoke Baptist Church. The church was renamed Antioch Baptist Church in 1890 and was the only Black church for miles on the east bank of the Mississippi River. In 1973, Ferdinand Gaines, Jr. became Antioch’s sixth pastor in its history. In August of 1999, Antioch relocated to a new 34,000 square foot facility in Lutcher, LA and again underwent a name change. The new name, First Community-Antioch Baptist Church reflects a church for the community, serving as a resource for both spiritual and human needs.”
Gwendolyn Midlo Hall is also the mentor of many generations of historians of slavery. She is highly regarded for her public outreach and award winning scholarship among historians of Africa, Europe, the United States and the Caribbean. She is the author of Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links [University of North Carolina Press, 2005], Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century [Louisiana State University Press, 1992], and Social Control in Slave Plantation Societies: A Comparison of St. Domingue and Cuba [Johns Hopkins Press, 1971]. Her database “Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719-1820,” which she assembled and which is the foundation of much of her scholarship, has long been free and available on the Internet.