"LEGACY LIVES AND TRIUMPHS"
AN AFRICAN AMERICAN STORY
LEE COUNTY ARKANSAS

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CHURCH HISTORY OF LEE COUNTY

Bethel Chapel CME Church Ledger Book

Paradise M.B. Church Organized In 1869 By Rev. James Johns

Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church

Union Missionary Baptist Church

Walnut Grove Missionary Baptist Church

Bethel Chapel C.M.E. Church

Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church

Mt. City Missionary Baptist Church

Some photos of some of our local Churches

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Bethel Chapel CME Church Ledger Book
submitted by Clifton Collier

"This is a scanned copy of an actual ledger book page of the Bethel Chapel CME Church.  The church was located about three miles north of Marianna on Highway 1. 

The entries were made in 1935--I think by my grandmother, Willie Mae Collier.  The sixth name is my father Lenzora, and the seventh name is his sister LaRue, who died as a child.  Clifton Collier, May 6, 2010."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Paradise M.B. Church Organized In 1869 By Rev. James Johns
by Carrie Reed

                     

The Paradise Missionary Baptist Church on Hill St. was organized in August 1869 by Rev. James Johns, who was the first pastor. The Deacons at that time were: Bro. Isaac McKinney, Bro. W. H. Thornton, and Bro. Abron Hughes. The Board was incomplete, but after a revival, Caloph Moon was converted, and at an early date was crowned a deacon. Henry Woods and Joe Hamilton were also placed on the deacon board.
The second Pastor was Rev. Taylor, and the third Pastor was Rev. Charles Williams. Rev. C. H. Pettis was the fourth pastor, and he was without a doubt a very good one. This minister gave the church his full service in every line of work. He served faithfully for many years. The deacons at this time were Bros. W. M. Thornton, Sr., W. W. Phillips, D. J. Randolph, Caloph Moon, and Henry Cochran.
The fifth Pastor was Rev. W. R. Johnston. He was a great minister and during his pastorate, W. T. Thornton Jr., was crowned deacon. Our next pastor was Rev. Higgins. He possessed a noble character with high ideals. He was one minister who gave more sacrificial service to this church than any other. During his stay here this church was extended, and much improvement was made. The seventh Pastor, Rev. O. B. Jones, was one of those extra ordinary Gospel ministers, who worked very hard. He carried a large crowd, baptized many converts, and a large number were added to the church. These things stand as a monument to perpetuate his memory and they are material evidence of his constructive ability.
The eighth Pastor was Rev. Reed, who served well. Rev. J. B. Jones, the ninth pastor, was an excellent Gospel minister. He was a man of high ideals, full of energy and possessed the ability to do great things.
The tenth and present pastor is Rev. H. Adams. He has rendered 30 years of unselfish and untiring services. Under his administration the church has been enlarged, completely remodeled and re-decorated with the addition of modern rest rooms, a pastor's study with furniture, gas has been installed and a new piano has been purchased. The church has been under-pinned and new steps added. New modern lights have been installed and the long-delayed Corner-Stone was laid several years ago. The last addition was the purchase of the new modern pews and pulpit to replace the old ones that were purchased during the early years of the church.

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BETHLEHEM MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH

The noblemen and women of yesterday of the Bethlehem M.B. Church have left us a legacy to remember.  It must give a nostalgic feeling to those who must take the torch of this legacy to the next milestone of Christian progress in our generation. The challenge and the responsibility for this task should be upon the shoulder of every member of this church.

The heritage of this church must be more than just a legacy to remember. It must become a legacy to cherish and preserve. We must keep the faith of our predecessors in the field of Christianity preserving the legacy and passing it on to the succeeding generation


HISTORY OF THE BETHLEHEM BAPTIST CHURCH FROM 1870 TO 1980 

The Bethlehem Baptist Church was organized in 1870 by Rev. Elex Owens as the leader.  These were some of his followers and helpers:  Bro. Courage Moore, Bro. Peter Winfield, Bro. Henry King, Bro. Henry Winfield, Sis. Flore Moore and many others I have failed to mention.

Rev. Owens had faith in God, he and his little band of Christians--with axes in one hand and the sword of faith in the other—went into the forest, cut the timber, hewed the logs and gave us the first Bethlehem Church.

The first church was about 6000 yards from this present spot on what was known as the Scott Place; but later the Boon Place.  The first building was a log hut with slab floors and seats.  Rev. Owens must have been an inspired gospel preacher, with great courage.

In the year of 1881, Bro. Henry Winfield—with his broad vision of that day—bought from Mrs. F. Forman the present seat and built a frame house.  During this period Rev. Pompy Brown, Rev. Jordan and Rev. George Ornie served as pastors.  Some of their followers were:  Bro. Nat Edwards, Bro. Benjamin Jones, and Bro. T. Shepherd.  These people had that religion that we sing about, that old time religion—because there were no nights too dark nor days too stormy for them to make the journey to church to work for the Master.

Next came Rev. Kegler and Rev. Leadbetter.  These were some of the faithful members who served with them:  Bro. Byrd Caffey, Sis. Emma Whitaker and Sis. Mattie Hamilton.

The first frame building was destroyed by fire about 1907.  Then later it was destroyed by fire again, and again by a storm.

Then in 1900 came the late Rev. T.F. Newsom—with his Moses like leadership.  Rev. Newsom was a great leader and preacher, and was honored by both races.  Rev. Newsom served as pastor for 20 years.  I shall mention a few of his followers:  Bro. Dave Valentine, Bro. Dick Prier, Bro. Colonel Farmer, Bro. Carey Hamilton, Bro. Evan Duvall, Sis Ann Hoocker, Bro. Ben Bowers, Bro. John Jones, Sis. Bell Brandy and many others I shall not attempt to mention.

In 1921 came Rev. Keys who served one and one-half years.  1922 Rev. Vasser and Rev. J.B. Brown.  In 1923 Rev. George Brazier.  1924 to 1926 Rev. O.B. Jones.  I shall mention a few of the members that served with these pastors:  Bro. John Edwards, Bro. John Jones, Bro. Hamp Harold, Bro. Cisroe Tucker, Sis. Bell Brandy, Sis. Julie Hill, Sis. Eliza Bowers, Sis. Mary Baesmore and many others.

In 1927 came Rev. W.C. Clark – 1927-1929; Rev. S. Hinkle 1930-1933; Rev. E.R. Gaines 1934-1940.  Some of the deacons were Bro. Robert Woods, Bro. Clyde Farmer, Bro. Booker Thornton, Bro. William Dickerson, Bro. Ocie Hamilton, Bro. Arthur Woodson, Bro. Ollie Palmer, Bro. Tom Woods and others.

1941-1968 – Rev. D.R. Robinson.  The deacons were Bro. Sanders Gatlan, Bro. Leroy Douglas, Bro. Tim Rucker, Bro. Charlie McNeal, Bro. Willie Johnson, Bro. Frank Jones, Bro. Wilson Brown, Bro. Elijah Heggs, Bro. Spencer Brown, Bro. J.W. Lockhart, Bro. Quedallas Dickerson.

From 1968-1969 – Rev. A. Slayton.  Deacons added were:  Bro. Owens Vaughn, Bro. Hubert Crawford, Jr., and Bro. James Brown.

1970 to the present date – Rev. John Frazier.  Deacons added were:  Bro. Augusta Jones and Bro. Douglas Jones.  In December 1980 this church will be 110 years old.

We must say that all of the ministers an leaders whose names appear on this history were great leaders.  We admire you for inspiring us to have courage to follow the path where our ancestors have led.

There are many others who helped to blaze the trail.  We could not name them all but we are grateful for them too.

We thank God for our rich heritage—God’s Church—The Bethlehem Baptist Church.

One of our beloved deacons, in person of Bro. Nat Edwards, was working on the Bethlehem Church with Rev. T.F. Newsom and some other deacons.  He had a fall and was fatally injured.  He said to his pastor and brethren to carry on the work.  “Don’t stop, I did what I could for the church.”

Today we thank our great leader who gave his life; who died in the faith, and paved the way for us today.  Let us work hard, and be thankful to God, so we can say when this life is over, “I have done my best.”

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UNION MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH

 I feel highly honored in trying to give to the growing generation the history of the Union Missionary Baptist Church.  I do regret that my ability will not allow me to serve you better.

In my own way here is the history of the Union M.B. Church:

This church withdrew from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church on Crowley Ridge in 1867.  Pleasant Grove was located about 3 ½ miles northeast of here.  The Union M.B. Church was organized by Rev. P.T. Price.

Since they all lived in the Union community they decided to name the church Union also.  They held their services under a bush harbor ¼ mile west from here on Mr. Billy D. Jones farm which is now owned by Mrs. Humphrey.  Sis. Elmira Price mortgaged her riding horse to secure this acre of land.

Our earliest group of church leaders are the ones who started the August Meeting.  Since they were free they decided that the August Meeting would be the first Monday of the month.

To have service they no longer had to turn down their pots to keep their masters from hearing their voices.  It was service inside, service under the oak tree.  Their scripture was 136 Psalm, for his mercy endures forever.  In their service they would stand and call roll.  When a member was dead they said ‘dead and present.’  Free dinner was served and this tradition has been kept up throughout the generations.

There were about sixty-one charter members.  Some of them were:  Bro. Mose Dawson, Sis. Rose Dawson, Bro. Richard Fields, sis Narcissa Fields, Bro. Plant Price, Sis. Susan Price, Bro. Green Brown,  Sis. Leatha Brown and many others.

Sis. Leatha Brown was the last charter member to leave us.  She passed away on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1940.  We shall forever be grateful for our charter members.

The pastor who served the longest term since the church was founded was Rev. Jackson Turner of LaGrange who served 14 years.  The shortest term was that of Rev. Dock Farmer of Hughes, Arkansas who served us for 8 months before the Lord called him.

Like most churches, our ship has been tossed from side to side over the years.  There are several things I shall refrain from saying since the modern system of religion has brought about much dissemination.

In 1951, Rev. D.R. Robinson was elected as pastor and a great deal of work was done.  We kept up with all of our District work.  When Rev. Robinson resigned, Rev. C. Wyatt was elected pastor.  In 1963, our church building was decaying rapidly.  Rev. Wyatt discussed the building with the deacons and members and they all decided to no longer try to repair it but to build a new church.  While the new church was being built, our services were held at the New Mt. Zion Church pastured by Rev. O.B. Brown.

Our new building was completed in April 1963.  We held our first service in our new church on May 12 which was also Mother’s Day.  Rev. H. Adams preached our Dedication Sermon.  Mr. Leroy Diamond was the builder of the Church.  Deacons at that time were Bro. O.B. Batts, who was also Chairman of the Building Committee, who is now deceased; Bro. Richard Price, now deceased; Bro. George Brown who passed away on Nov. 4, 1981; Bro. James Wilson, now deceased; Bro. Lafayette Lee; Bro. Johnnie Price; Bro. Dessie Lee Brooks; Bro. Matthew Dawson; and Rev. C. Wyatt, Pastor

Rev. Wyatt resigned just after his 13th Anniversary.  We shall long cherish his memory.  After Rev. Wyatt came Rev. Solomon Isom.  Much was started during Rev. Isom’s term.  Rev. Daniel Williams followed Rev. Isom and Rev. Williams had a short and tragic term.  Rev. Leroy Bonds became Pastor after Rev. Williams but he soon resigned.

In 1977, our present Pastor, Rev. Lee Eggerson was elected.  We all love and respect Rev. Eggerson, a young man now in his eight year with us.  In the 118 years of Union M.B. Church, we have had 58 Superintendents of Sunday School and approximately 3,000 members.

Two ministers from our membership have been called to preach the Gospel and have been Ordained.  They are Elder James Brooks and Elder Roe Steverson.  Two deacons were added to the Board of Deacons, they are Bro. Theodore Austin and Bro. Roy Coleman.  Three persons were baptized in 1983.  Many other good works have been accomplished too numerous for me to name.

Our present deacons are as follows:  Bro. Dessie Lee Brooks, Chairman; Bro. Lafayette Lee, Honorary, Bro. Jethroe Steverson, Bro. George Ferrell, Bro. Theodore Austin; Bro. Matthew Dawson; Bro. Johnnie Price; Bro. Wavie Austin; Bro. Robert Ferrell; and Bro. Roy Coleman.

 Rev. Lee Eggerson, Pastor                            Sis. Ethel Mosley, Clerk

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(WALNUT GROVE)
CHURCH’S ANNIVERSARY

 (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

1866-1958

(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 Ramsey.

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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 members.

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. Ward’s administration.

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. 

 Clifton Collier

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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.

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MT. CITY M.B. CHURCH

1982

 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 wife.

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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