Arkadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Arkadelphia, Arkansas

Arkadelphia Company Organized in 1979

For several years Mrs. Novie Rush was the only known Adventist in Clark County. Then in 1975, Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Malson bought seventy acres in Alpine wondering why God led them there. Two years later Dr. and Mrs. Chester Clark moved to Amity to open a dental practice in this dark county.* They were soon followed by Lois Ritchie, M.D. In May 1978, God led Lois to “recruit” and marry Norton R. Ritter, M.D. They opened their office in Arkadelphia, the county seat. In May 1979, Elder Eugene Ryan, dark-county evangelist, organized this little group into a company. As God led more of His people to this area, they realized that full church organization would make them more effective in sharing the gospel (Stockler, 1981).

Arkadelphia Church Organized in 1981

Over 50 members and guests gathered on May 16, 1981, to organize the sixteen members of the Arkadelphia Company into a church. The church organization took place in St. Michael’s Episcopal church in Arkadelphia, where the group had been meeting since 1979 (Stockler, 1981). In 1983, the church bought over six acres of land on Highway 8 on which to build a church. In 1987, Elder Martin Shain held meetings in Arkadelphia and had about twelve good interests. He volunteered to stay on and continue to build up interests. However, by 1989 most of the members who developed and maintained the church had moved away and the attendance had dwindled to three or four individuals. It was voted to disband the church. Dr. Clark indicated a desire to have students from Ouachita Hills Academy, a self-supporting academy in Amity, develop a project to restore the Arkadelphia church. They wanted to work in Arkadelphia and use the church facility until it was sold (Minutes, 1989). By August 1990, it was reported that the sale was going through for the house that had served as a church (Minutes, 1990).

A Church Plant

In 2004, Kyle Tumberg, a part-time Bible worker for Ouachita Hills College (OHC), learned about a business fair to be held at Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. Kyle set up a booth offering free door prizes to college students who took a survey that offered free Bible studies, cooking schools, stop-smoking programs, and a Revelation seminar. Over 100 students signed up for the Bible studies so Kyle and Jonathan Rosengren, an instructor at OHC, held a group Bible study on or near the campus of Henderson State University. They also conducted personal studies for those who could not attend the group study. Every Sabbath, several OHC students and a few local Adventists set out to teach people about the Bible. In the mornings they went door-to-door visiting people and inviting them to an afternoon Bible study. Typically six to eight non-Adventists attended (McGrath, 2007). By January 2008, eleven people had been baptized into the new Arkadelphia group (Tumberg, 2008). In 2006 the group was meeting in a rented church building. In October 2010, property with an older church building was purchased and the members began meeting in their new facility in March 2011 (Tumberg, 2012).

Arkadelphia Church ReOrganized in 2012

The Arkadelphia group was organized as a company on March 6, 2010, and organized as a church on April 14, 2012 (Simpson, 2012).

Arkadelphia church on South Wood Road in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Elder Stephen Orian.

*A dark county was an area where no active Adventist work was being done.

Citations

(1989, Aug. 1). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1990, Aug. 30). Ibid.

McGrath, Catherine. (2007, Mar. 1). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 16, 17.

Simpson, Chris. (2012, Apr. 17). Arkadelphia SDA Church. Retrieved from eadventist.

Stockler, David M. (1981, Jun. 25). Southwestern Union Record, p. 16G.

Tumberg, Kyle. (2008, December). Ibid. p. 19.

Ibid. (2012, November). p. 21.