First Seventh-day Adventist Church Organized in Arkansas in 1882

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DeWitt Clinton Hunter

In about 1871, Andrew Barnabas McAlexander and his wife, Elizabeth, moved from Missouri to Hindsville, Arkansas (Ancestry, 2005). In 1872, DeWitt C. Hunter, founder of the town of Nevada, Missouri, and the Seventh-day Adventist church there, began sending Adventist publications to his friend, Andrew B. McAlexander. Andrew and his wife began keeping the Sabbath in the spring of 1873, making the McAlexanders quite probably the first Sabbath keepers in Arkansas (Norwood, 1910). The McAlexanders also laid the groundwork for the first Seventh-day Adventist church in Arkansas.

In December 1881, the General Conference placed Arkansas under the watch care of the Kansas Conference. Elder Joseph Garner Wood was sent for an evangelistic tour of Arkansas. Elder Wood traveled first to Hindsville, a town of about 100 residents nearly twenty miles east of Springdale. He met Mr. and Mrs. Andrew B. McAlexander and reported that “their consistent Christian life had a good influence on their neighbors. Some had nominally commenced to keep the Sabbath” (Wood, 1882).

That winter Elder Wood held a nine-week meeting at Hindsville. At the end of the first two or three weeks of meetings, Elder Wood reported, “[A]bout thirty arose to testify that they believed all the commandments of God ought to be kept just as the Lord wrote them including the Seventh-day Sabbath. Ten signed the covenant. Some others are keeping the Sabbath…I baptized three” (Wood, 1882). Soon after, “from the result of this meeting nine persons took their stand for the truth, after which they were organized into a church, — the first Seventh-day Adventist church in the State” (Norwood, 1910; Rouse, 1906). A new, unoccupied log house with a fireplace at one end was arranged as a church. In March 1885, thirteen more members were baptized following a week of meetings held by J. P. Henderson.

Several years later, W. T. Martin and L. C. Sommerville, both canvassers, spent Sabbath, February 10, 1894, with the church at Hindsville. They stated that they “had, a pleasant time with them. . . . While this church has a good-sized membership, the attendance at meetings is small, as most of them live at quite a distance from their place of worship. We were detained here on account of high water” (Martin, 1894).

Although the church at Hindsville no longer exists, these early families and ministers laid the groundwork for the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference and over 13,000 members today.

Citations (2005). U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Provo, UT: Operations, Inc.

Martin, W. T. (1894, May 1). Review and Herald, p. 284.

Norwood, J. W. (1910, Jan. 4). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 4, 5.

Rouse, J. S. (1906, Nov. 20). Obituary. Ibid., p. 2.

Wood, J. G. (1882, Feb. 21). Review and Herald, p. 123.

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