MORE ABOUT ME
My name, as you already know, is Bruce Evans. I am, as I bragged in the beginning, 77
years old, with 5 children, 2 step-children, and 17 grandchildren. My wife, Anita, is a
Social Worker in private practice. I have a bachelor's degree in Petroleum Engineering, a
master's in Religious Education, and my doctorate is in Psychology and Counseling.
I am a retired Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Louisiana and was
in the private practice of individual, couple, and group counseling for 38 years. During
this time I worked with hundreds of clients and couples, some individuals weekly for
over 25 continuous years.
I have also been an ordained minister for 38 years, the last 34 as pastor of an
ecumenical church in Baton Rouge, LA. As minister I have married, baptized, and buried
hundreds of persons-- not, of course, the same or in that order, and preached thousands of
sermons. During the course of my unorthodox ministry I have also evolved a theology
focusing on fullness of life in the here and now rather than in a possible afterlife
later-- a natural rather than super-natural way of viewing reality, a
perspective on God as the ultimate in what is real rather than the traditional Cosmic
During the course of these two complementary professions I have written some 28 books
and published hundreds of articles and poems from which these included on my Home Page are
Good living, present tense, is, I have found, far more challenging than the traditional
forms of preparing for heaven post-death; yet, I also believe, well worth the price and
risks. My works-- articles, books, and poems, all arise from and amplify these
All this is present life. If you're into genealogy, as I am, more details about my
ancestors (or to check about any possible connections with your own) are included on my
page under: "My Ancestors"
During the course of my ministry I participated in many phases of the civil rights
movement in the South. When I donated my papers to the LSU Library in 1997 I was asked
to prepare a summary of my involvements. Here is a copy of that summary:
SUMMARY OF CIVIL RIGHTS INVOLVEMENTS
J. BRUCE EVANS
1957: While serving on staff of 5,000 member, white and
segregated, First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, I was moved by the church's response to
possible visits from black persons, especially making behind the scenes plans of how to
deny entrance in the quickest ways.
1959: I became pastor of University
Baptist Church, hoping to lead a group in what I believed to be a more Christian-like stance in ecumenical and racial
I was moved by Louisiana State House of
Representatives passing segregation packages, including establishing of a State
Sovereignty Commission. Threats by C.O.R.E. to become active in Baton Rouge led me to
preach a sermon on University
Baptist Church and C. O.R.E., an effort to
begin facing racial issues more openly.
10/3/60: I preached on Christianity and Segregation, confronting
the general situation in the South.
3/19/61: The Christian Attitude in the Segregation
Issue, another message to the church, was
intended to face racial issues in a more personal manner.
With the Little Rock tragedy and New Orleans violence in the
immediate past, and facing the likelihood of Fall desegregation of schools in Baton Rouge,
I began meeting with a small group of Baton Rouge ministers, including Rabbi Marvin
Reznikoff, Dr. William Trice, Rev. Irvin Cheney,
Father Borders, and others, to see what plans we might make to help the community face school desegregation without becoming violent. We concluded
that the least we could do was publish a statement of principles that we believed all
Christians should follow, as a way of encouraging citizens to act decently.
5/8/61: Joined 52
other ministers in Baton Rouge in signing and publishing
a Statement of Basic Principles urging calm in school desegregation.
None of us imagined, I think, given the
rather benign nature of the statement, the furor our
action would precipitate.
organization of laymen was formed to oppose our stand. They too published their principles, and privately many of them declared they
would "get us all." Threats, abusive phone
calls, phone tapping, and cross burnings followed immediately.
6/61: The first of many
forced resignations began with Rev. Irvin Cheney of Broadmoor Baptist Church.
representative of the State Sovereignty Commission called on me late one Sunday night, presenting an extensive dossier of my life including
references to my "Communist leanings," and urging me to cease all efforts to
"integrate our state, or else." I was told that all our phones were tapped so
they would know "what we were doing."About this time Governor Jimmy Davis
appointed 3 members to the East Baton Rouge School
Board, effectively establishing its segregationist stance.
9/1/61: My first wife, Ann Evans, was fired as a math teacher at Baton Rouge High,
"Over Mate's Racial Views."
9/10/61: I preached a sermon,
Am I An Integrationist?, in an
attempt to help my parishioners confront the difficult
position my stances had placed them in, as well as their own personal dilemmas in facing
racial matters. A reporter was in the congregation and placed much of my message in
Senator J.D. Deblieux and others financed the printing and distribution
of the sermon, leading to much positive and negative
12/27/61: State Senator
Wendell Harris, a member of the Louisiana Sovereignty Commission, was indicted along with
others on charges of illegal wire tapping of ministers who signed the Declaration of Principles in May.
participated in a 2 day conference "for Negro Clergymen in Greater Baton Rouge."
2/63: A Voice From The South, a summary of my integration sermon, appeared in Pulpit Digest, a national, inter-denominational,
publication. Response from around the country was encouraging, but some members of my
congregation were becoming increasingly disturbed with my ministry.
4/28/63: Under continued pressure from many of my parishioners
opposed to my ministry I chose to resign my pastorate of
University Baptist Church.
5/63: Began Fellowship
Baptist Church, the first, so far as I have been able to determine, ecumenical and
racially integrated church in Baton Rouge officially established with an open membership.
8/63: Preached on Meeting The Negro.
9/63: Fellowship was rejected for membership in Judson Baptist Association; other
reasons were given, but our open racial stance was strongly opposed by many and probably
influenced the vote.
2/64: Fellowship Baptist Church became the first church in
Louisiana and in the deep South to affiliate with the
racially integrated American Baptist Convention.
1/25/65: Sponsored a national
Church In The World Conference on
race relations in the South, including Clay Lee, pastor
of Philadelphia, MS church where civil rights workers had been recently killed by KKK
members; Jerry Chance, from racially troubled Bogalusa; Dr. Carlyle Marney, Charlotte, NC,
and others. Was attended by leaders from around the country as well as Baton Rouge.
During the two day conference KKK members were noted recording license
plate numbers of those attending.
2/65: I preached on Christianity And The Extremes: Far Right, Far Left,
3/65: I participated in a Church And Race conference in Meyers Park Church in Charlotte, NC, for
leaders from the South, making plans for church involvement in racial activities.
3/31/65: The conference was reported in a full page article in The Christian
Century, a national ecumenical religious
6/65: I preached on Church In The
invitation to becoming a truly Christian church.
I was elected first Chairman of the
newly formed Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations.
As a member of this council, I along with other members, participated in the
first integration of many Baton Rouge restaurants and
9/65: Fellowship Church again applied for membership in Judson Baptist Association,
the local body of Southern Baptist
Churches, and was rejected; again for other stated reasons but probably related to racial stances.
10/65: Preached on Religionless Religion, an appeal to move beyond
the narrow divisions of most established denominations.
5/66: Baton Rouge Council on Human
former congressman from Arkansas, Brooks
Hays, who had been active in the civil rights movement, then Consultant to the President, to speak in Baton Rouge.
Start Program for disadvantaged
children was approved for Baton Rouge and put out an
appeal to local churches to provide space for this integrated service. Fellowship Church
was one of only two local churches that volunteered to provide facilities. A full-page
article described this Catholic led, inter-racial, program in a Baptist church.
5/68: Sermon on The New
Jerusalem invited a wider concept and practice of Christian principles. The church participated in inter-racial fellowships with
Father Elmer Powell's church in Scotlandville.
8/68: Preached on Beyond
8/70: With full integration of Baton Rouge schools mandated in 1970, and in face of
threatened violence at school opening, the Political Action Committee of Fellowship Church
attempted to organize Baton Rouge churches
in making a public statement of concern on A Christian Response to School Desegregation. Letters to 265 churches resulted in only a $5 contribution and
a hostile letter accusing the church of being "communistic." The church
published the statement on its own.
9/70: Participated in organizing American
Baptist Churches of the South, the first openly integrated major denominational group
in the South. I later became its President from 1977-79.
3/72: Fellowship Church sponsored the 2nd
annual conference of the American Baptist Churches of
the South, meeting at Mt. Zion First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Guest speakers
included Dr. Harvey Cox of Harvard University, author of
The Secular City, and Dr.
Henry Mitchell, professor of Colgate Rochester Divinity School.
10/1/96: When I retired from the ministry I
was the only remaining one of the 53 ministers who signed the Declaration of
Principles on racial openness in 1963 still pastoring a church in Baton Rouge.
In 2006 I donated many of my records, genealogical
research, correspondence, etc. to the Hill Memorial Library at Louisiana State University.
These have been cataloged and are now available for viewing there. Here is a link to these
papers, along with other biographical about myself: