By Diana Chandler, Baptist Press
BAYOU CHICOT, La. (BP) -- Two churches sit just up the road from one another in this unincorporated town so small there's no official population count. Both claim roots as old as Baptist evangelism west of the Mississippi River.
Calvary Baptist Church, a white Southern Baptist church at 1059 Calvary Baptist Road, and the African American St. James Baptist Church at 3378 Highway 167 North, both trace their founding to Joseph Willis, a former slave of white and Cherokee heritage.
Both congregations say they are the church Willis founded in 1812 in Bayou Chicot and are celebrating their bicentennials this year, each laying claim as the oldest Baptist church in Louisiana.