A Brief History of Texarkana, Arkansas and Texas
THE WORK BEGINS
In 1887, a Texarkana family began reading Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation sold by a canvasser, and within a year, they embraced the Adventist message. Many others were greatly interested. By May 1888, there was an unorganized company of six, who had formed a tract society and Sabbath school. One canvasser was at work in the vicinity, and was having good success (Henderson, 1888).
TEXARKANA CHURCH ORGANIZED IN 1889
In July 1889, Elder James P. Henderson held tent meetings in Texarkana, Arkansas. He stated that, “Many discouragements have militated against us in our work at this place—several weeks of almost incessant rain, opposition meetings, and general worldly influences, some of the worst I have ever met.” He went on to say, “But the Lord has been good, and several precious souls have accepted the truth.” As a result of these meetings, their number increased to ten, and a church was “thoroughly organized.” In addition to this, ten others signed the Sabbath keeping covenant, making a company of twenty Sabbath keepers, with still others interested. A room was located in which to hold regular services, but a church building was needed and strongly talked of, and they hoped to build that fall. However, there does not seem to be any record showing that they were able to build a church. The Texarkana church was admitted to the conference at its annual constituency meeting which was held on August 21, 1889, in Rogers, Arkansas (Henderson, 1889a; Henderson, 1889b).
From May 16 to June 10 of 1890, Elder Joseph G. Wood held meetings in Texarkana. The Disciples of Christ church allowed him to use their building, but the pastor was very derisive of the ten commandments, saying they had been done away with and making fun of them. Elder Wood spent some time showing that the commandments were still binding, concluding that if there are no commandments, then there is nothing to transgress, no sin and no need of the gospel–no need for a pastor! A family of three signed the Sabbath covenant and three others were baptized before Elder Wood left (Wood, 1890). On April 6, 1897, Elder John A. Holbrook and his wife arrived in Texarkana, holding meetings for seventeen days. As a result seventeen people were added to the church (Holbrook, 1897).
In January and February 1903, Elder Asa E. Field held two meetings a day in a private house in Texarkana. Elder Field reported that he found a few Sabbath keepers there and expected to again organize a Sabbath school and baptize some before he left (Field, 1903). On May 29, 1903, Elder Volney B. Watts and Urbanus Bender began holding meetings in Texarkana. They did not have very many who attended, however (Watts and Bender, 1903). Beginning on September 2, 1903, Urbanus Bender, along with his wife of eight months, returned to Texarkana and again held meetings (Bender, 1903). As a result of these meetings, five people signed the Sabbath keeping covenant (Sommerville, 1904). In 1904, the Houston family moved to Texarkana and started the Sabbath school again with the small group of believers meeting in each other’s homes (Bender, 1905). Unfortunately, Mrs. Houston became quite sick in August 1904, and died in April 1905 (Record, 1905). In January 1905, when Elder Urbanus Bender visited Texarkana to look after the few Adventists still meeting together, he reported that there used to be a good little company meeting there a year ago but some had moved away and the Sabbath school was broken up. Elder Watts visited in 1908 and found that some were still working to advance the truth there (Watts, 1908).
TEXARKANA CHURCH REORGANIZED IN 1926
In November 1925, the North Texas Conference reported that Texarkana had an organized Sabbath school of about twenty members led by H. A. Goldsberry (Record, 1925; Perry, 1925). In March 1926, F. L. Perry met with the Sabbath school that was using the Odd Fellows Hall for their meeting place. The believers there were quite insistent that the work needed to be stronger in Texarkana (Perry, 1926). Up until this time, Texarkana had been under the North Texas Conference but in 1926 became part of the Arkansas Conference (Montgomery, 1926b). That fall Elder R. P. Montgomery pitched a tent in Texarkana and started meetings on September 5, 1926, with about 150 to 200 in attendance each night. On October 31, 1926, Elder Montgomery held a baptism at Texarkana and organized the little company of believers into a church of fourteen members (Montgomery, 1926a).
A NEW CHURCH IN 1930
Elder E. G. Crosier held eight weeks of meetings in 1930. The attendance started with eight people, but by the end of the meetings, 204 attended on Sabbath, August 30. Fifty-two new members were baptized and the next Sabbath twenty-five more were baptized. (Crosier, 1930). The new church on County Avenue was completed and ready to open October 4, 1930. It was a brick building that would seat two hundred and had two rooms for a church school. One hundred forty-five new Sabbath keepers were attending the Sabbath school each week and over 100 joined the church (Van Kirk, 1930). By the spring of 1933, they had landscaped around the church and added a church sign (Record, 1933). The church was dedicated on October 19, 1935 (Record, 1935).
A NEW CHURCH IN 1959
By 1953, the church was termite-riddled and the brick wall on one side was about to fall (Minutes, 1953). The Texarkana members purchased two lots at 26th and Texas Boulevard in Miller County, Arkansas, on which to build a church. By July 1954, the old church building had been sold and construction on the new one had begun (Record, 1954). By May 1959, the church was nearly complete. The floor was covered with grey vinyl asbestos tile. The rostrum and center aisle were carpeted in a soft green. The church furniture was purchased from the Brandom Manufacturing Company at Keene, Texas. It harmonized with the natural oak paneling of the rostrum and piers. A Wurlitzer piano and a new Hammond organ were purchased as well (Balser, 1959). Sabbath morning, December 28, 1964, the church was dedicated (Evans, 1964).
A NEW CHURCH IN 2001
In 1977, it was voted to sell the property in Miller County, Arkansas, and in 1979 it was voted for the Texarkana church to purchase property in Bowie County, Texas (Minutes, 1977 & 1979). A groundbreaking ceremony was held Sunday, May 2, 1999, for the new Texarkana church and school on Pleasant Grove Road, Texarkana, Texas. (Prindle, 1999). Church services were held for the first time on Sabbath, September 8, 2001, in the new school gym, which served as a temporary sanctuary. This new location moved the Texarkana church from Arkansas to Texas. Over 200 people attended the consecration ceremony for the new church held on August 24, 2002. To begin the ceremony, the local United States Marine Corps Color Guard raised an American flag that had been flown over the White House. Many years ago, Congressman Wright Patman had given the flag to Tom Martin. Martin’s wife, Marie Martin Prindle, was one of the charter members of the Texarkana church (Johnson, 2002). On Sabbath, July 12, 2008, a special ceremony was held as the Texarkana church was dedicated and the mortgage burned (Johnson, 2008).
(1905, May 9). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.
(1925, Nov. 10). Ibid., p. 2.
(1933, Mar. 8). Ibid., p. 3.
(1935, Oct. 2). Ibid., p. 2.
(1953, Dec. 2). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1954, Jul. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.
(1977, May 5). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1979, Oct. 18). Ibid.
Balser, C. C. (1959, May 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 5.
Bender, Mr. and Mrs. U. (1903, Sep. 21). Ibid., p. 2.
Bender, U. (1905, Jan. 31). Ibid., p. 2.
Crosier, E. G. (1930, Sep. 3). Ibid., p. 3.
Evans, I. M. (1964, Jan. 15). Ibid., p. 2.
Field, A. E. (1903, Feb. 9). Ibid., p. 2.
Henderson, J. P. (1888, May 22). Review and Herald, p. 332.
Ibid. (1889a, Aug. 13), p. 522.
Ibid. (1889b, Oct. 1). p. 619.
Holbrook, J. A. (1897, May 4). Ibid., p. 285.
Johnson, Loretta. (2002, Nov. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 10.
Ibid. (2008, Sep. 1). p. 17.
Montgomery, R. P. (1926a, Sep. 7). Ibid., p. 3.
Ibid. (1926b, Nov. 16). p. 3.
Ibid. (1930, Oct. 15). p. 1.
Perry, F. L. (1925, Dec. 22). Ibid., p. 2.
Ibid. (1926, Mar. 30). p. 3.
Prindle, Marie. (1999, Jul. 1). Ibid., p. 14.
Sommerville, J. A. (1904, Mar. 7). Ibid., p. 5.
Van Kirk, M. B. (1930, Oct. 8). Ibid., p. 1.
Watts, V. B. and Bender, U. (1903, Jun. 29). Ibid., p. 2.
Ibid. (1908, Jun. 2). p. 2.
Wood, J. G. (1890, Jun. 24). Review and Herald, p. 396.