History of Sweetlake United Methodist Church
The Sweetlake United Methodist Church was organized December 20, 1908 with Reverend Willie Hebert as it’s first pastor. Reverend Hebert, lovingly known by all who knew him as “Brother Willie” served as pastor from 1908 to 1929 with the exception of a short period of about one year when District Superintendent J.A. Carruth was in charge.
The first Sunday School Superintendent was Reverend Dallas Hayes. He held this office for about nine months, at which time Dolzie Broussard became Superintendent and also teacher of the Senior class. Mrs. Eraste Hebert, Sr. was teacher of the Intermediate class, and Mrs. Dolzie Broussard was teacher of the Primary class. Willie Hackett, better known as “Uncle Billy” was organist. In his absence brother Tom Hebert was substitute organist. In later years, Mrs. (Mabel) Eraste Hebert, Jr. and Mrs. R.O. Hackett substituted.
Worship services were held in a one room school house which was located east of the present day St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. This building was a gift from Mr. H.G. Chalkley, Sr. A six room parsonage was also built.
The seed of Christianity was being planted in the area long before the church was organized, due largely to the coming of a local preacher known as Brother Joe Berwick, who in 1891, came preaching the gospel. Four boys in the area were converted and later studied to be ministers. They were: Reverend Willie Hebert, his brother-Martin Hebert, Reverend Dallas Hayes, and Daniel Hayes.
The hurricane of 1918 did extensive damage throughout the area. The school building in which worship services were being held was demolished. Until permission was obtained to use a one-room school farther to the North, services were held in the homes of different families. Many years later when this one-room school building was consolidated with Bell City School, the building was bought, and in 1949 was remodeled under the supervision of Reverend C.J. Thibodeaux, pastor at the time.
Following the ministry of Brother Willie Hebert, Reverend Luther Lyons was pastor from 1929 until 1934. Reverend Edward R. Haug was appointed pastor, but due to the fact that he was still in seminary, Reverend H.C. Seidel took charge until June 1935 when Reverend Haug was able to resume his duties.
Ministers that served from 1935 to 1956 were: Reverend Carl W. Barham, Rev. Cleburne Quaid, Rev. C.W. Rogers, Rev. M.C. Cady, Rev. E.W. Day, and Rev. Hubert Gibbs.
A dedication ceremony and dinner on the grounds was held on November 11, 1956. New church pews and other additions were dedicated at which time the sermon was delivered by Rev. Martin Hebert.
During 1957, Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Hebert presented the church with a beautiful Kimball piano in memory of their daughter, Linda Faye. Mrs. Tom Taylor also presented pulpit furniture to the church as a memorial to her husband, Mr. T. E. Taylor.
In the latter part of 1959, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Helms gave the SUMC one acre of land. A deed was filed declaring the incorporation of the Sweetlake United Methodist Church.
During the year, considerable interest developed in the matter of building a new church. The building committee, composed of Charles Hebert, Mervyn Taylor, Charles Hackett, Hardy Stone, and Jerald Helms, drew up tentative floor plans and had sketches of the church made.
The building program of SUMC which had it’s beginning during the pastorate of Rev. Garland Dean, continued throughout the ministry of Rev. W.F. Howell, and was completed under the leadership of Rev. Hubert Gibbs.
Dr. Leonard Cook, District Superintendent, conducted the special service for the laying of the cornerstone in December of 1963.
The beautiful inscription reads, ‘Sweetlake Memorial Methodist Church-Founded 1908- This structure erected 1963- Dedicated in memory of those who faithfully served their God, their church, and their community- “Except the Lord built this house, they labor in vain that build it.” Psalms 127:1
In 2005, the Sweetlake United Methodist Church is alive and strong. It’s members freely participate in the life of the church and community. We have just added a new Family Life Center, several classrooms, a new state-of-the-art kitchen, a cemetery, and a children’s playground.
In 2008, Sweetlake United Methodist Church will celebrate it’s 100th Anniversary!
The church has physically survived Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008. Many wonderful people came to help not only our church rebuild and renovate, but were in place to ministry to a community in need.