(NOTE: I find the history of Walnut Grove particularly interesting because it
referred to two historical events not normally found in church histories, those events were the migration of many blacks from the south to the north during the 1920’s and 1930’s and the Great Depression of the late 1920’s
and 1930’s. Clifton Collier)
See Walnut Grove Church secure
And founded on a Rock;
All her promises are sure;
Her bulwarks who can shock?
County her ever precious shrine;
Tell, to after ages, tell –
Fortified by power divine
The Walnut Grove Church can never fail.
For years this church has stood as a sentinel pointing men and women, boys and girls to the Heavenly way. In the midst of world turmoil, in the face of strife and war
and the times when world idea is crumbling, this church has ever held high the banner of Christ who said “Upon this Rock I build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
This church has had pastors, such God-like, devout, Christian preachers as: Rev. Polk, Rev. Lockhart, Rev. Brown, Rev. Otey, Rev. Abernathy, Rev. Stephenson, Rev. Jones, rev. E.R. Gaines, present
pastor, and may others who have preached the gospel so that one could hear of Jesus, know of his goodness, and see his works in the lives of all men.
Persecution has not crushed the church. Power has not beaten back the church. Time has not abated the church’s force. The abuses and treasons of enemies have not shaken the
church’s stability for the church is founded on a rock.
May this church stand in years to come as it has stood these ninety-two years, a living monument to a Savior who died that all men might live.
WALNUT GROVE M.B. CHURCH
(pictured above is the old Walnut Grove MB Church)
Through the providence of our Heavenly Father we have reached another milestone, the 92nd Anniversary of Walnut Grove M.B. Church, and the 25th
Anniversary of the Pastor, Reverend E.R. Gaines. Yet, we who are alive and presence (sic) ourselves at this noble event must feel wonderfully blessed.
Ninety-two years ago our forefather launched this “Old Ship” out on the sea of time. The sail has not always been a smooth one, because of many a contrary wind she has been tossed to and fro, in
spite of rough waters and many hardships, today she is still afloat. We should turn our heads for a backward glance with thanks to God and rejoice and say we believe Christ saw Walnut Grove down through the years of time
when he said, “Upon this Rock I build my (C)hurch and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”
We are most grateful to those sainted Mothers and Fathers who went on the firing line when the clouds were dark and heavy with disappointments. Surely, they marched through
struggles of joys and sorrows, over mountains of sin and confusion. The sacred battles were welcome with rejoicing because the glimpse gave a better meaning on the “Cross of Calvary.”
We are told Walnut Grove was organized just after the Civil War. Just out of slavery in the year of 1866, with faith in God, a mind to work, and a will to serve the Master’s
Cause, Rev. Burns Polk was deeply moved by the spirit to organize the band ninety-two years ago.
In its infancy this church began as a prayer meeting from house to house, then to a brush harbor three-fourth mile West of Marianna, then to a frame building.
After the beautiful site of ground was sold by the Founder and Organizer, Reverend Burns Polk, and the building erected, a name for the building became a question to the many
persons involved. We’re told that Sister Octavia Eldridge said she was only a girl, but she looked around and saw so many walnut trees in grove-like, she suggested they call it Walnut Grove. From that this church got its
name from one of its young (C)hristian women.
These dear Mothers and Fathers who organized the church stood up under all kinds of besetments, but with faith and prayers they truly made it. Boards with ounchings were used for
seats instead of pews as we today enjoy.
Truly these faithful servants worshipped God in the “Old Time Way,” for their hearts were touched by the Holy Spirit. They earnestly prayed that we would never leave the ‘Old Time
Way.” They, as we are striving for day by day, have gone on recorded as heroes for God and His Cause. Some of those persons in the organization were: Rev. Burns Polk, Organizer and first pastor; Bros. Marshall Rozell;
Henry Bennett; H.F. Major; Henry Colber; Mesdames Lucy White, Mattie L. Edwards; Moriah Johnson; Alice Soloon; Cornealia Govan; and Elen Cobler.
Pastors in the organization and those who have served faithfully are: Rev. Burns Polk; Rev. W.M. Lockhart; Rev. Patrick Price; Rev. Artie Taylor; Rev. Pompy Brown; Rev. R.E.
Bryant; Rev. W.M. Otey; Rev. J.H. Abernathy; Rev. E.M. Mosley; Rev. Clim Williams; Rev. H.R. Stephenson; Rev. M.L. Johnson; Rev. O.B. Jones; Rev. J.D. Jordan; and Rev. E.R. Gaines the present pastor. Only two of these are
living: Rev. H.R. Stephenson and Rev. E.R. Gaines, who is now in his twenty-fifty year.
Deacons who have served are: M.H. Roxell, Jesse Crenshaw, Charley Tenson, Dennis Northal, Allen White, Frank Westbrooks, Frank Edwards and Fred Otey. All these were crowned from
1866 through 1892. Others crowned were: Jeff Durham and Henry Major in 1894; Jake Moore Jessie Dixie and I.V. Dozier, transferred deacons elected. Will Prince and Lee Robinson were elected in 1924; A.H. Howard in 1917;
Will Green and Richard Griffin were crowned in 1923; J.C. Cohn, O.G. Thomas, Grover Vasser, (elected), A. Johnson and A.J. Ramsey (crowned) 1925. Others are: John Wells, Fred Carr, M.S. Roe, Booker Taylor and W.E. Owens.
Part of the presidents of the Missionary Society are: Mesdames Joenna Lewelln who was the first; Ophelia Warren, Lucy Smith, Mary McClinton, H.A. Allen, Amanda Dickerson, Katie
Jones, Jennie Jones, Maggie Pettis, Anna L. Montague and Mary Thomas.
…From 1917 to 1926 the membership was increased by 660 members of these two hundred and ten were baptized. Four hundred and thirty joined by Christian experience, and twenty
joined by letter. Under the pastorage of Rev. E.M. Mosley the membership reached 500.
In 1933 Reverend E.R. Gaines was called to the church. Although he was quite young in age and in the ministry, his election was well accepted by all. His
service has been unexcelled.
As the world turned and time changed many activities, the church became faced with many problems whose only solution pointed to moving the church to a more desirable location
convenient to the church-goers of today.
God was surely in the plans of moving he church for in late winter of 1949 a severe hail storm damaged the roof beyond repairs. Then the pastor and officers decided it best to
think of this new church. The services were discontinued and were held in the Masonic Hall for quite some time. In 1950, by strenuous, yet willful efforts of the pastor, officers and members, the edifice we are
worshipping in today was begun at Beale Street and Highway 79. This building was completed in 1951, at which time the Eighty-fifth Anniversary was the first service held therein. This day was a day of rejoicing for all
who were present at this service, just as those who worshiped together at that first service ninety-two years ago.
This church is the beginning of Baptist Churches in Lee County and the oldest. Members have gone to other churches to help build them and returned here.
Let us thank God for what has been done and pray that the “Old Ship” may continue its onward march in bringing souls to the “Haven of Rest.”
As people will become unrest and will seek abode elsewhere, the affect (sic) will be felt in the church and elsewhere. Due to the great migration of people in the church and
various other reasons, the membership of Walnut Grove declined greatly in the twenties and early thirties.
The appointment of Rev. Gaines as pastor in 1933 began with bout three hundred and fifty members. As in other years, the membership has been much unbalanced because of the
economical status of the world today. Today the membership is at its greatest under the pastorate of Rev. Gaines.
Persons who have and are yet serving in various auxiliaries are: superintendent, clerk and assistant superintendent, A.H. Howard for more than forty years; Assistant, Messers
Wesley Anthony, James McFarland, Archie Spears, Jr., J.C. Cohn, Sam Jordan, Ernest Carter, Calvin Smith; Mesdames Lula Mae Taylor, Cora Fuller and Miss Arlene Dupree.
Deacons: Messers Frank Edwards; A.J(H). Howard; J.C. Cohn; Fred Carr; M.S. Roe; A.J. Ramsey; Booker Taylor; W.E. Owens; Solomon Brown; Luke Rogers; Joe Anderson; Martin
Fuller; Sam Jordan; Andrew Hunt; Naathan Wills; and Spurgon Farmer.
Members who have been called to the ministry: Revs. A.J. Ramsey, Clyde McClendon and Claude Murdock.
Mothers: Mesdames Catherine Clark, Delina Taylor, Lola Webster, Cora Fuller, C.D.W. Bowman, Ethel Turner,
Georgia Dupree and McDowell.
Choir Presidents: Messers Solomon Brown, Sam Jordan, Augusta Sain, Fred Wynne and Mrs. Brownie Pointer.
Missionary Society Presidents: Mesdames Maggie Pettis, Rachel Anthony, Anna L. Montague, Louise Peals, Ruth
Baker and S. Price.
Supervisor of Sunshine and Red Circle: Mesdames Beatrice Smith and Daisy Payne.
B.Y.P.U.: Mrs. Suella Price and J.W. Livingston.
Pianists: Mathew Ramsey, Jr., and Mrs. Alma S. Connor.
Sunday School Secretaries: Ben Anthony, Marjorie Gowder, M. Price, Elmorae Spears, C.D.W. Bowman, Learline
BETHEL CHAPEL CME CHURCH
(On the occasion of its 100 year Church Anniversary, 1987)
We are not unmindful of the great responsible and so great a task in compiling the history of Bethel Chapel C.M.E. Church. Due to negligence in keeping a printed account of all events we are unable
to give an accurate account of many.
All who were in the founding of the Church have fallen away. We realize that the momentous events of earth’s history is in the establishment of God’s Kingdom among men. The adventures of the gospel
church began more than 1900 years ago when Christ said “upon this rock, I build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against us.”
To Mr. Peter Turner we are so grateful for the everlasting memories he so freely shared. We are also grateful to many others who made our later achievements possible.
Bethel Chapel was organized in 1887 under the leadership of Bro. Fred Williams who had the staunch support of the following Christian heroes: Bro. Mack Virgus, Bro. Tom Johnson, Sis. Lizzie Virgus,
Sister Hester Johnston, Sis. Reinoy Kirkwood, Sis. Mariah Parker, Sis. Betsy Murph, Sis. Carrol Murph, Sis Priscilla Morris and Sis. Ella Harris.
In 1888, the membership moved the church to what is known as the Hewitt Place. He gave them permission to hold services in an old log house.
In 1889, the faithful group of members purchased an acre of land from an old white man named Berry Parker, which is where the cemetery is located now. Services were held there until 1905.
The church under the leadership of Bro. Fred Williams, Bro. W.R. Smith, Sis. Ella Harris, Bro. James Harris and Sis. Cora Weams purchased the present site from J.E. Felton under the administration of
Rev. G.W. Burt. The building was erected in 1906 and the cornerstone was laid in 1907. In 1952, under the administration of Rev. U.S. Pettis, that building was condemned and was torn down. The faithful committee of Bro.
Jim Harris, Bro. Columbus Bolen and Bro. Nute Smith worked hard and a new building was built. The opening services were held on September 28, 1952 with Presiding Elder, Rev. B.T. Carter and Rev. T.I. Hardy present. That
building burned on August 2, 1969 and St. John M.B. Church opened its doors to us to hold services. Miles Chapel Church also came to our aid during our time of need and we are forever grateful to both churches and its
Our present building was erected in 1971 with the opening service being held on May 23. Rev. J.D. Davis of Vines Addition preached the first sermon and we are grateful to all.
In 1979 Rev. Avant took over as our pastor. He was followed by Rev. Dumber in 1981, Rev. Easter in 1982 and Rev. Montgomery in 1983. Church Rededication and a cornerstone was laid in 1984 under Rev.
Rev. Smart became pastor in 1985 and our present pastor Rev. Alvin Hopkins came to us in 1986.
NOTE: Though not mentioned in this history I recall that Reverend Fred Kelley served as pastor in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Also, following the death of Sis. Earnestine Taylor, the doors to Bethel Chapel were
permanently closed about 2000. The building was torn down by the Felton family after the property reverted back to them.
MT. MORIAH M.B. CHURCH
113TH ANNIVERSARY, 1982
The one-hundredth and thirteenth Anniversary of the Mt. Moriah Church and the twelth year o our Pastor, Rev. J.L. Ivory.
The Mt. Moriah M.B. Church was organized in the spring of 1869 with 19 members principally of Walnut Grove: they were Glosie Norrington, Bro. Cragg and wife, Bro. E.M. Boone, Bro. Peter Jackson and
wife, Sis. New Warren, Bro. Henry Clay, Sr., and wife, Bro. and Sis. Hirem Bonner, and Sis. Edmond Lee.
The Reverend Ben Norrington was the first pastor of the Mt. Moriah M.B. Church. The first officers were: Bro. Hirem Bonner, Bro. Edmond Lee, Bro. Washington Boone, Bro. Henry Clay, Sr., the first
mother was Mother Rose Warren, the first treasurer was Bro. Lott Warren.
Mt. Moriah M.B. Church was first located three miles east of Oak Forest Store and one mile north. Mt. Moriah got its name from the suggestion of the late Bro. Hirem Bonner.
We had a great number of officers whose works are done. They are as follows: Bro. Hirem Bonner, Bro. Washington Boone, Bro. Edmond Lee, Bro. Lott Warren, Bro. William Johnson, Bro. Samuel Smith,
Bro.Toby Johnson, Bro. Allen Stephens, Bro. Dotson Solomon, Bro. Leroy Stephen, Bro. Pomps Russaw, Bro. D.W. Mayhew, Bro. Vergen McFerrin, Bro. John Stephens, Bro. John Johnson, Bro. J.H. Kelley, Bro. C.H. Russaw, Bro. S.M.
Sloane, Bro. Henry Clay, Bro. W.M. Norman, Bro. Oscar Baker, Bro. Levi Wallace, Bro. Jesse Dotson, Bro. Hezzie Moore, Br. W.F. Stephens, Bro. Earnest James, and Bro. Luther McFerrin.
The present officers are: Bro. Fred Daniels, Bro. J.W. Perry, Bro. Guy Allen, Bro. Charles Nash, Bro. Julius McFadden, Bro. Oshin Gillespie, Bro. James Lee and Bro. Ceophilis Williams.
Mt. Moriah has been under the leadership of twenty-five pastors, they are: Rev. Ben Norringon, Rev. Isom Lockhart, Rev. Robert Rose, Rev. George Arnett, Rev. William Otey, Rev. S.H. McKenzie, Rev.
W.M. Smith, Rev. C.B. Blackmon, Rev. Ishmael, Rev. H. Adams, Rev. M.E. McFerrin, Rev. W.C. Clark, Rev. O. Jones, Rev. I.P. Parker, Rev. J.R. Sains, Rev. H.A. Atkins, Rev. E.R. Gaines, Rev. J.D. Davis and our present pastor,
Rev. J.L. Ivory.
There are 212 members, five joined by Christian Experience and fourteen were new converts; four members were lost in death.
MT. CITY M.B. CHURCH
The church was organized in the year 1873 (by Rev. Stephen Sains). Time has moved on, brought many
changes, but we feel thankful to our heavenly father, this history still lives in the minds of the members of this church and our friends each third Sunday in July. We honor this day and call it our church anniversary.
Your humble servant feel it is a duty with pleasure to say through the power of the All Mighty God another milestone has been made since 1873, back in those dark days, we have come
steadily to a brighter day with the Lord’s blessings we now can serve the Lord under our own vine and fig tree. With the Lord’s blessing we now celebrate the One-Hundred and Eighth Anniversary of this church from the year
1873 to 1982, many souls (sic) have excepted (sic) the Lord here.
Sister Ella Busby read this history of this church for many years. She has passed on. The names of the pastors and the year served: 1873, Rev. Henry Pettus, at that time the church was
across the road, it burned down, the members did not stop, they kept their faith and held their service under a bush harbor. 1879 -1880, Rev. Wesley Lockhart served under the bush harbor; In 1883 Rev. William Oddie, Sister
Ella Busby was President of the Mission Band. In 1892, Rev. Sherman McKenzie; 1895, Rev. Jodie Brown built the church back and laid the cornerstone; 1902, Rev. J.H. Abernathy, under his leadership the church
(unrecognizable word) and put pews in the church, he served 13 years.
In 1914, Rev. Jodie Brown second election; 1915, Rev. W.A. Harris; 1919, Rev. Henry Potts second election; 1920, Rev. Farmer; 1922, Rev. W.L. Hill; 1924, Rev. R.M. Parker of
Marianna;1925, Rev. S. Hinkle; 1930, Rev. S.W. Branchomb, he resigned that year.
In 1930 Rev. J.P. Sains, a member of this church carried out the service. Rev. Sains and members put a pump on the church yard. In 1931, Rev. A.M. Hardy from Helena, Ark. was elected
(short stay). In 1932 Rev. H. Adams served eight years and four months. 1940, Rev. E.R. Gaines of Marianna; 1942, Rev. W.H. Pruitt of Memphis, Tenn. (short stay); 1943, D.V. Green served six years, much improvement,
electric lights and repaired the church. 1951 Rev. A.T. Thomas served four years. Crown Bro. Wesley Conley a preacher and two deacons, Bro. J.C. Walter, Bro. John Acie Adams. 1954, Rev. H.Y. Ward, Mt. Bower, Mississippi
crowned one deacon, Bro. Lugene Timon. 1953, Rev. I.V. McKenzie of Marianna (short stay). 1959 Rev. W.L. Jackson of Rondo (short stay). 1960, Rev. C.B. Bingham of West Helena, under his leadership Crown Bro Charlie Cown
a deacon and bought chairs for the choir, 1963 Rev. Bingham went away.
Since 1873-1982 presidents of the Mission Band have been Sister Ella Busby, Sister Kattie Ward, Sister Kizzie Thimes, Sister Addie House, sister Chanie Venson, Sister Everlena Seems,
Sister Callie Mae Banks, Sister Mattie Callure,, Vice Pres. And Sister Ella Busby President. Rev. Stephen Gaines, Pastor, organized Mission Band.
The officers of the church that burned was George Graham, Hairson White, Henry Benett, Dave Young, David Coppage, Washington Boone, Henry Jones, Albert Orent.
From 1873 -1982 Deacon (sic) of Mt. City Church that have passed are Robert Brown, R.C. Coppage, S.G. Busby, Veach Gray, R.L. Powell, Louis Carter, D.W. Smith, Luie Reed, James Weems, D.W.
Smith, Charlie Coppage, Rosco Thimes, Luegen Timon, I.J. Powell, Charlie Cown, John Acie Adams, Lemark Price and Henry Jimmerson.
…June 6, 1963, our pastor Rev. W.L. Debro was elected here by the members of the Mt. City M.B. Church. The members had amine (sic) to work with our pastor to build a new church, we did
not ask him for a new church we believe he ask the Lord. In 1969 a new Mt. City was built. “What can I do to inherit (sic) Eternal Life?” He hung up a sign that will never be forgotten. We love Rev. Debro and his devoted
In 1966 Rev. Debro crowned Bro. Willie C. White for a deacon (sic) and in 1969 Bro. Lymark Price. Rev. Debro served from 1863-1982. Following his leadership our pastor Rev. Debro and
some of the members of this church rebuilt a part of the old Mt. City Church before this church was built; this church is now 13 years old. We count ourselves blessed to have the leadership we have, the spirit to wait,
work and to win.
On Monday night, June 23, 1980, a mighty wind storm came by here and left a sign pulling up one tree breaking down another on the church yard. This church was damaged by the storm, the
pastor and members of this church thanked God he left the church standing here. We realized he didn’t have to but he did, and we thank him for being so merciful and good to us. We count ourselves blessed to have the
efficient leadership we have in our pastor, we feel they have had some sleepless nights and troublesome days trying to work out plans that would run with the finance (sic) to repair this church. We are very sure that our
pastor and officers came out singing “I am so glad trouble doesn’t last always.” With a mind (sic) willingly to work here that we could continually have our services while the church was being repaired. The first Sunday,
September 5, 1976, Mt. City and Mt. Gillard baptized together, our pastor preached and fellowship with the Mt. City members. We were just one big happy family.
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Improvement Association of East Arkansas,
Post Office Box 958,
Marianna, Arkansas 72360
Phone: (501) 940-7506,