Loretta Artigue was not raised Pentecostal. Her father was French and Catholic, and her mother was of Irish-German descent and Baptist. Edward Artigue was expelled from his family for marrying a Protestant and left the family home to set down roots near Port Allen, Louisiana. He passed away when Loretta was eleven years of age. When she was about seventeen, her brother came back from serving in the Navy and stayed out late each night. Thinking he was going to clubs to dance, Loretta begged to go with him. He led her to a Pentecostal church in Baton Rouge, where she received the Holy Ghost at her second visit and spoke in tongues for three days.
Loretta’s conversion brought about a drastic change in her lifestyle as she abandoned worldly dress, jewelry, her spot on the basketball team, and dancing during the lunch hour. The high school principal called her in for counseling. Her brother and Pastor C. G. Weeks realized life would be difficult for her as a new convert and arranged for her to finish high school at Apostolic College in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she developed an intense burden for souls.
After graduating from high school and attending college in Tulsa, Loretta went back to Baton Rouge and immersed herself in teaching Sunday school, youth leadership, and other church activities. Along with Elton Bernard and two other single young ladies, she traveled to Plaquemine to start a church amid much persecution. They held services despite the neighbors banging pots and running lawnmowers outside the open windows.
In 1955, Loretta married Elton Bernard and they continued to work diligently in the church, assisting in the start-up of a church in Port Allen. In 1956, David was born to the family, and in 1959, Karen was born. Julie was adopted in 1972 (in Korea).
On the night of February 19, 1960, Loretta was awakened by her husband to help him pray about a burden he was wrestling with. By morning, they knew they had been called as missionaries to the country of South Korea. In preparation, they both received ministerial license, started a church in Hammond, Louisiana, and then left for Korea in 1965, where they pioneered and established the United Pentecostal Church of Korea.
At the time, Korea was very much a poverty-stricken Third World country with no running water in most houses, beggars in the streets, mud huts, and limited food. Life was difficult, even for Americans.
Sister Bernard always had time for her children when they got home from school, but after they went to sleep, she would delve into the Word of God until the wee hours of the morning to study for the Bible college classes she taught. There were no textbooks suitable for her to use. Since there were not many Christians and no other United Pentecostals in Korea, anyone hungry for knowledge was accepted as a student in the Bible college, even some who were not yet born again of water and Spirit. This meant she had to write her own textbooks, and every doctrinal position had to be proven.
During their twenty years in Korea, the Bernards established a Bible college, twenty-two Korean churches, and three English fellowships for US military personnel. They conducted youth camps, camp meetings, conventions, ministers’ seminars, and revivals under much persecution and through many physical hardships. Sister Bernard taught and preached as much as her husband. For several years, they each pastored a church in the Seoul area. On many occasions, they preached separate simultaneous revivals throughout the countryside.
They came back to America in 1985 and pioneered two churches in Gonzales, Louisiana: The Pentecostals of Ascension and, with son-in-law Charles Hatcher, Centro de Vida, a Spanish-speaking congregation out of which has come three daughter works. Wilfredo Garcia, an immigrant from El Salvador whom they won to the Lord, is now pastor of Centro de Vida and director of Spanish Ministry for the Louisiana District.
Loretta Bernard has passed from this life to her eternal reward. The difficult health issues she faced in the last few years of her life are gone forever. Her life will forever remain a tremendous testimony of the amazing work that can be accomplished through an individual totally dedicated to God.