Louisiana has never laid claim to a greater preacher than Bishop Armstead Mason Newman. It was the writer's great privilege to know him personally and to listen Sunday after Sunday to his able sermons, taking notes and study sermonic architecture. I delight to record here that my first and best lessons in sermonizing were received from this noble man. It was largely through his persuasion and influence that I accepted the principalship of the Thirteenth District Academy, and during his pastorate at Antioch Baptist Church I was licensed to preach in 1895.
He was born during the dark days of slavery in Alexandria, Va. To him early school advantages were unknown, but being blessed innately with push and pluck, he started to the front. Though his struggle through school was bitter he held to it, and finally forged his way through Colgate University, Hamilton, N, Y., graduating B. S., with signal honors.
His first labors in the state were at the Common Street or Tulane Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans. Following he did effective work at Bunkie, Shiloh Baptist Church, Alexandria; and after serving as State Missionary and President of the Louisiana Baptist State Convention, he was called to the Antioch Baptist Church July 27, 1889. Bishop A. B. Daniels in his "Historical Sketch of Antioch Baptist Church," has the following to say of Dr. Newman and his work at Antioch: "On July 27, 1889, the church elected Rev. Armstead M. Newman, formerly of Alexandria, Va., to take charge as pastor. Rev. Newman began his work in a Christian-like manner and soon had the wreckage cleared up and the sails hoisted and soon the old Ship of Zion had her head to the wind and was moving on her mission of soul-saving. He began the work with 146 members. It will be remembered that during the confusion of the church prior to Rev. Newman's election a great number of dissatisfied members had withdrawn from the church and built another house of worship known as Avenue Baptist Church. In a short time these members were granted letters of dismission and all was peace once more where hatred, malice and everything which was un-Christian prevailed just a few months before. Rev. Newman proved himself to be a peacemaker of whom it is said in Matt. 5:9, "they shall be called the children of God." During the pastorate of Rev. Newman, beginning July 27, 1889, there has been added to the church 256 members."
In addition to this excellent church work he did a deal of school work while at Antioch, organizing and operating the Providence Academy, which was perhaps the first distinctive Baptist Academy in Shreveport. Miss Blanch Sterrett and Miss Elizabeth Norrington, ably assisted Dr. Newman as instructors in this school. The chief material used in the founding of the Thirteenth District Academy came from Bishop Newman's school. He was elected Supervisor of Education for the Thirteenth District. This position and pastor of Antioch Baptist Church he filled until he was called from labor to reward. Thus closed the earthly career of an affectionate father, pleasant teacher, a loving and watchful pastor, a forceful preacher, an apt theologian, a profound thinker and a logical reasoner.
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