Southside Bible Chapel
The Late 1930s brought war-clouds over the low Countries of Europe. The German Wehrmacht was poised to rumble into the helpess Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg. Assembly missionaries, A. Paul and Gladys Duchesneau and Clyde and Elizabeth Shannon, gave pause to their ardent labors in the French language in Belgium. They pondered leaving the low Countries while it was possible rather than wait for a fate similar to Corrie Ten Boom. They prayed and researched for an alternative field for their labors in the French language and settled on Louisiana. Arriving in a community adjoining Lafayette and St. Martinville, these families began an assembly in a former bank building.
The missionary efforts of the Duchesneaus and the Shannons were blessed of God. Many were brought to Christ through the French radio broadcasts, and others reached through a colportage library work distributing books and tracts. Other believers were drawn to the simplicity of the New Testament church pattern taught and practiced by the missionaries. The services soon became bilingual and moved to nearby Lafayette.
A building was secured and named Bible Chapel. Through the war years many gifted brothers visited the assembly to minister including Professor C. Theodore Schwarze from Yonkers, New York, author of the widely-read Science and the Bible.
At the end of the war the Duchesneaus returned to Montreal to begin a work in the French language there; and the Shannons were given passage to Belgian Congo to labor in the French language. Brother Vernon B. Schlief who was then involved in a work among members of the armed services in New Orleans, was called upon to support the Lafayette assembly with itinerant ministry. Young men associated with brother Schlief's work responded, commuting to Lafayette each weekend. Stan Hanna, now a missionary to Honduras, and I traveled this trip often.
Southside Bible Chapel today is housed in a large 14,000 square foot building on two acres. This commodius building hosts an annual Bible Conference in the fall and enjoys visitors from surrounding states. The facility served as a shelter for evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The assembly joined in an outreach to West Central Alabama in the 1950s, helping to establish assemblies there.
Today Mr. Thomas Wheeler serves as an itinerant teacher commended by Southside Bible Chapel. His ministry carries him to assemblies over the United States and Canada.
William O. Walker, Assembly Correspondent
103 Robert Drive