Development of Theological and Ecclesiological Expressions of Christianity in New Orleans

New Orleans is a diverse city with a long history. Prior to the Civil War, New Orleans had a thriving community of Free People of Color. It is home to the oldest Greek Orthodox congregation in the Western hemisphere. Until 1950, it was the largest city in the South with the largest port in the South.
This paper will examine the development of the diverse cultural and theological expressions of Christianity during the first two hundred years of the city’s existence (1718-1918). Roman Catholicism was the dominant and only legal religion allowed when the city was first a French, then a Spanish colony. However, there were a variety of monastic orders with varying degrees of influence. In addition, there was competition between German, French, Irish, and Italian flavors of Catholic life, not to mention a vibrant African American expression. After the Louisiana Purchase, Protestants began to arrive. The first congregation was started by a Presbyterian, but the congregation elected to affiliate with the Episcopalians.
This paper will include not only the major ecclesiological expressions of each denomination, but will also examine the differing shades of each group as well. These theological developments will be presented in the chronological sequence in which they occurred. Space will be given to cultural movements which influenced these developments.

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