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Photograph: Reverend Christina Winbush Hardy (Photograph by Freddie Herpin.)

Editor/Consulting Writer

First-year Reverend Christina Winbush Hardy is beginning her somewhat unique career ministry in charge of two historic Opelousas Methodist churches that are listed among the oldest in Louisiana.

Earlier in July, Winbush, who grew up in Opelousas, was placed in charge of St. Mark United Church on South Market Street and the congregants who attend Louisiana Memorial United Methodist Church on East Bellevue Street. 

Her career as a Methodist minister has been fast tracked after she obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology on May 14.

Normally Hardy conducts Sunday church services at both St. Mark and Louisiana Memorial.

St. Mark Methodist Church was established in 1867 several years after a group of 10 to 12 people began to gather at the home of Louis Minor for Bible study, according to the Louisiana website.

A church at the Market Street location was established by Richard Dorsey for the missionary study of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the website noted.

Elisha Bowman moved to Opelousas near the start of the 19th century and began the Louisiana Memorial United Methodist Church in 1806.

The state’s Methodist website shows the Louisiana Memorial United Methodist Church is considered to be the oldest Methodist church west of the Mississippi River.

Hardy received her education in the St. Landry Parish public school system, starting kindergarten at Grolee Elementary.

In 2005 Hardy graduated from Opelousas Senior High. That year she was also voted as senior class president.

Winbush married Reginald Hardy Sr. shortly after graduation. Winbush credits Hardy as her high school sweetheart. The couple has been married for 16 years and have five children.

Before attending divinity school, Hardy received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. During her college academic career Hardy was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and published a thesis that addressed the problems that face children of parents who are incarcerated.