The Work Begins
Elder Littell conducted a series of tent meetings in Bentonville in the summer of 1911. A number of people accepted the truth and were baptized. The members began raising money and by March 1912, they had enough to begin building a church. Mr. C. R. Craig and family, who were not members of the church gave much assistance, both with money and influence (Smith, 1912).
Bentonville Company Organized in 1942
H. L. Douglas held a tent meeting in the little town of Bentonville in 1940, at which time a few accepted the message and were baptized. He bought a church building but kept the deed for so he could further develop it. In the fall of 1942, Mr. Douglas again came and conducted a three weeks’ effort which resulted in several more becoming interested in the Adventist message. Some were just becoming interested when he had to leave, so Elder Isaac Baker studied with the interested people. Mrs. Bosshardt also played an important part in working for these souls. Two weeks after H. L. Douglas left six precious souls were baptized in a beautiful stream north of town. They were organized into a company and Mrs. Bosshardt and Levern Peterson continued to lead out in their meetings (Baker, 1942).
Bentonvile Church Organized in 1939
In the summer of 1939, a company of eleven took their stand for the truth and seven of them were baptized, forming the Bentonville church. Money was raised so the members could purchase a church building (Minutes, 1939). In September, they purchased the North Methodist church. It became the Seventh-day Adventist church and the Methodist minister also began to observe the Sabbath (Baker, 1939). Elder Frank D. Wells visited Bentonville in January 1947. He was inspired to see Elder Johnson, from Oklahoma City, permanently settling in Bentonville. The Bentonville church was about ready to be disbanded, but Elder Johnson brought new life and revival to the believers (Wells, 1947).
A New Church in 1965
September 18, 1965, was a high day for the church members at Bentonville, as they dedicated their new church. Just a few months before, the local elder, Oliver Scarbrough, had presented a plan for the building and for raising the money. In just six months the church was constructed and paid for. That afternoon twelve people were baptized. This was the first baptism, following evangelistic meetings held in Bentonville by Elders McLean and Wertz. Two other baptisms at a later date gave the church twenty-five new members. The average attendance increased from eight in January to about fifty by the time of the dedication (Wertz, 1965).
Bentonville Church in the 1980s
A Turning Point
The Bentonville church had seemed doomed to extinction when only two praying members were left. Pat Kohley and Georgia Medcalf (at left) continued meeting together and praying that the Lord would send the right persons to help His work to prosper. The Lord answered by sending Dr. William H. Howard and his wife, Marguerite (Record, 1987). In 1975, there were thirty-six church members but this little church was able to open a two-teacher school with twenty-seven students (Eccles, 1975). This seemed to be a turning point and since that time the Bentonville church has flourished (Record, 1987).
A New Church in 1987
The new church was dedicated on April 18, 1987 (Record, 1987).
Bentonville church on SE 14th Street in Bentonville, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.
(1939, Dec. 19). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1965, Apr. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 5.
(1987, Jun. 12). Ibid., p. 8.
Baker, Isaac. (1939, Sep. 20). Ibid., p. 3.
Eccles, Floyd W. (1975, Oct. 11). Ibid., p. 8.
Smith, L. E. (1912, Jan. 23). Ibid., p. 4.
Wells, Frank D. (1947, Feb. 5). Ibid., p. 6.
Wertz, R. G. (1965, Dec. 8). Ibid., p. 3.