May 29, 1874 - October 9, 1961
|Martin Hebert was born in Bell City, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, on May 29, 1874. As it was the custom in his family, he was christened by an itinerant priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
Soon the family moved to the Sweetlake Community in Cameron Parish, where Martin grew to manhood.
As a youth, Martin Hebert was converted, became a Christian, and joined the Church. He attended Lake Charles College and for a while taught school at Bell City and Grand Lake.
Then he heard the call to preach. He felt the need for further education to prepare himself for his ministry, and began to make plans to that end. Good schools being scarce in those days, he and his brother, Willie, who became a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, decided to seek ad-mission in a private school at Liberty Hill, Texas. Having no funds available for this project, he and his brothers raised a rice crop of their own, and from the proceeds of it secured the money necessary for this additional educational preparation for the ministry. To this, Martin Hebert added a remarkable literary knowledge of the French language by reading and studying a French Bible, and subscribing to a French Canadian newspaper.
When Martin Hebert was 23 years of age, he was licensed to preach by the District Conference in Jeanerette, Louisiana, in May of 1897. He was re-ceived on trial at the Louisiana Annual Conference of The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, held in Crowley, January 6-10, 1898.
The session of the Conference had been postponed for several weeks that year because of a severe epidemic of yellow fever.
On July 18, 1898, Martin Hebert and Miss Nettie Clarissa Kingsbury of Missouri Valley, Iowa, were united in the holy bonds of matrimony. To-gether they served the Church devotedly for more than 60 years.
Martin Hebert was ordained a Deacon and received into full connection by Bishop Charles B. Galloway at the Annual Conference held in Baton Rouge on December 16, 1900. He was ordained Elder by Bishop H. C. Morrison at the Conference held in Lake Charles, December 7-12, 1904.
His appointments by years of active service are as follows: 1898: French Mission; 1899, Plain Dealing; 1900 Plaquemine-Brulee; 1901-11, French Mis-sion; 1912 St. Martinville; 1913-16, French Mission; 1917, Superintendent of the French Mission; 1918, French Mission Circuit. In connection with his years in the French Mission he served also as chaplain of Hope Plantation Penal Farm, where his work with the prisoners was most effective and deeply appreciated. Then during World War I he gave some time as Y.M.C.A. Secre-tary at Gerstner Field Air Base. While there, the government requested him to teach the French language to the soldiers on the base. In 1919 he was appointed to Abbeville and the French Mission; from 1920-23 he was Presi-ding Elder of the Houma and French Mission District; 1924-26, Missionary Evangelist; 1927, Morgan City, 1928-30, Algiers, New Orleans, 1931-33 Ep-worth, New Orleans, 1934-37 First Church, West Monroe; 1938-42, Henning Memorial, Sulphur. At the Annual Conference held in First Church, New Orleans, November 10-13, 1942, he was given the retired relationship. How-ever, this retirement did not terminate his active ministry. For the next 11 years he served Westlake as a retired supply, then for two years he supplied the Community Chapel, south of Lake Charles, and finally, in June 1955 he organized the Fairview Methodist Church, South Lake Charles, and was its pastor until 1957.
Death came to this noble French-born Soldier of the Cross on October 9, 1961, in the very area to which the greater part of his ministerial career had been dedicated. He sleeps with the people whose traditions he inherited and understood so well.
The foregoing list of appointments shows that approximately two thirds of his ministry was dedicated to the French people of Southwest Louisiana. He was truly a pioneer of Protestantism in that area, and by all accounts the most influential figure in the planting of Methodism there. In the early days of his ministry, and for many years thereafter, the Bayou Country in which the French people of Louisiana had settled was not easily accessible. Martin Hebert traveled over his field of labor on horseback, with his ministerial equipment in his saddlebags, or by boat, buggy, wagon, on foot, and even on a bicycle.
It was the privilege of one of the writers of this memoir to be assigned, during his student days, to accompany Martin Hebert several summers as he traveled over the French Mission. It was impressive to see the welcome, which this minister received in these communities which he visited tirelessly. Martin Hebert was the French Mission in Louisiana. The two are inseparable.
An evidence of the effectiveness of his work is the number of youth of French origin who entered the ministry under his inspiration and leadership.
Measured by the success of his pastorates among non-French people of later years, he was no less effective than in his service among the French. He served good appointments, and, in each instance, for a term of years, which compared favorably with the tenure of his English-speaking associates. The Annual Conference elected him as a delegate to the General Conference in 1934.
Personality is something one often hears in connection with an effective life; but it is not easy to apply it to a minister who possessed abilities and graces, which made him acceptable to all elements of such a widely diverse field of pastoral demands and services. His personality was as the outgoing of a great soul. Genuine was his friendship; he recognized no preferred claimants in his self-giving.
The Gospel that Martin Hebert preached was simple and straight. He was not interested in novel religious opinions and theological subtleties. He found in the simple facts of his faith and experience a full and sufficient satis-faction for the needs of his life; and that is what he preached to others, regardless of their attainments, their eminence, or their social position.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Hebert, and six of the seven children who were born in their parsonage home. They are: Lee Beverly Hebert of Brussels, Belgium, Guy Kingsbury Hebert of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Martin Hebert, Jr. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mrs. Vera Pulliam and Miss Iris Fern Hebert of Lake Charles, and Mrs. James A. Carlin of Houston, Texas. Another son, Theodore Girard Hebert passed away in infancy. There are also ten grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, three sisters, two brothers, one half brother and two half sisters. Besides his family, many preachers who were deeply influenced by his life, and a host of friends, join together in call-ing him blessed.
Martin Hebert has been and will remain a singular figure in the history of Louisiana Methodism. He now belongs to the ages, but his work will abide for all times to come.
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 242-244, 1961 by W . L. Duren , H. A. Givvs, and Adrian M. Serex.|