Spring River Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Williford, Arkansas


Around 1889, a church was organized east of Hardy by Elder James P. Henderson and Mr. Divelbiss. By 1908, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Smith were the only members left, although several who used to attend the church still believed the Sabbath truth (Littell, 1908).


The Spring River church was organized in 1991. In November 2001, the congregation purchased some property with an existing structure to renovate in nearby Williford. Pastor Bill Sorenson worked tirelessly in heading up the project of renovating and building a new addition (Sorenson, 2006).

Property purchased in 2001 to be remodeled as a church (Minutes, 2001).


In spite of challenges — a tire blow-out on a trailer loaded with cement blocks, and a strong wind blowing over a stacked wall of blocks — God blessed their project. He sent the help of a pastor’s son and friend from Dallas, when it was needed. The beautiful new church included rock decor to enhance the structure (Sorenson, 2006).

New addition to the Spring River church. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.
Spring River church on Highway 63 in Williford, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Google Maps, 2018.


(2001, Oct. 15). Minutes of the Arkansas Conference Association Board. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

Littell, Leslie. (1908, May 5). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

Sorenson, Betty. (2006, Feb. 1). Ibid., p. 10.

Bonnerdale Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Bonnerdale, Arkansas


Arthur Lee McCoy and Ava Etta (Hopkins) McCoy with their family. L to R: Earl, Arthur holding Jewell and Joe, Arnold, Ava holding Avalee, and Prue (Ancestry, 2017).

The work in this area really began when Joseph Franklin McCoy moved from Louisville, Kentucky, to Lucky, Arkansas, in 1878. There, Joseph married and raised his family. Joseph, had begun keeping the Sabbath from reading his Bible. He then sent for Adventist tracts, papers, and books, and accepted the third angel’s message. Joseph was arrested and persecuted for violating the Sunday laws that were in effect at that time. Following that, he and his wife with their three boys, organized the first Sabbath school in this area. They brought in their neighbors and friends with their children and studied the Bible together. Soon Charley Ewing and his family began keeping the Sabbath. Seventh-day Adventist ministers would visit occasionally, among whom were Elders Beckner and Ellington Beck Hopkins (McCoy, 1910).


Elder Volney B. Watts ca. 1908

In the fall of 1906, Elder Henry Clay Griffin and H. L. Parker held meetings at Lucky, and in November, Elder Griffin baptized some and organized a church of seven members, mostly from the McCoy and Ewing families. The members had already built a little church in a pine grove between the two families, which was not quite finished but they were meeting in it (Griffin, 1906). The church continued to prosper and grow rapidly and at the twentieth annual session of the Arkansas Conference in July 1907, Lucky was admitted as a church (Record, 1907). From 1909 to 1912, Elder Volney B. Watts did pastoral evangelism especially around Lucky and Fort Smith. By 1910, Lucky was the second largest church in the conference (McCoy, 1910). The little community of Lucky no longer exists, but by 1931 the church became known as the Bonnerdale Church (Hopkins, 1931).


In 1941, the Bonnerdale members completed a new church that was quite large and accommodated more seating than their previous building (Record, 1941). The church was dedicated on November 29, 1941.

Photo courtesy of Don Hevener.


Baptism in the unfinished Bonnerdale church on December 25, 2004 (Record, 2005).

At the end of 1976, Irvin and Evea J. Bainum donated property on which to build a new church and school. The school and Ewing Auditorium were built first. The congregation met in the new auditorium for the first time on December 22, 1979, and the school opened for the 1980-1981 school year (Record, 1979). In 2003, Bonnerdale finalized plans for a new 10,176 square foot sanctuary with the old sanctuary to be razed. They began work on the foundation in June (Shafter, 2003; cf. Minutes, 2002). In November 2005, members formally moved into their new facility. At the end of November 2006, they celebrated the congregation’s first 100 years (Winton, 2006).

Bonnerdale church on Adventist Church Road in Bonnerdale, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.


(1907, Aug. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

(1941, Nov. 11). Ibid., p. 3.

(1976, Dec. 17). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1979, Dec. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 12F.

(2002, Dec. 5). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(2005, May). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.

Ancestry Family Trees. (2017, May 3). Arthur Lee McCoy. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

Griffin, H. Clay. (1906, Nov. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

Hopkins, E. B. (1931, May 6). Ibid., p. 3.

McCoy, Ava L. (1910, Oct. 11). Ibid., p. 4.

Shafter, Dennis. (2003, July). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 3.

Winton, Tonya S. (2006, December) Southwestern Union Record, p. 11.

Texarkana Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Texarkana, Arkansas and Texas


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).


Elder J. P. Henderson

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, 1889aHenderson, 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).

Elder Volney Brockway Watts

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).


Elder R. P. Montgomery

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, 1925Perry, 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).


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).

1930 photo of the Texarkana members and their new church (Montgomery, 1930).


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).

The Texarkana church at it’s dedication in 1964. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.


Those taking part in the groundbreaking were L to R: Lonnie Wietzel, building committee chair; Mary Akens, church treasurer; Ann Stoddard, church member; and Gary Grimes, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference secretary. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

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).

Texarkana church at 3100 Pleasant Grove Road, Texarkana, Texas. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton. 


(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.

Hot Springs Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Company

A Brief History of Hot Springs, Arkansas


Elder Eusebio Prieto began pastoring the Glenwood, Little Rock, Hot Springs District, on September 9, 2004. A year and a half later, Elder Prieto and Pastor Leonardo Castillo held a crusade in the Hot Springs area, resulting in several baptisms.


From that campaign was born the vision of planting a new congregation in Hot Springs. On October 21, 2006, that dream was realized when  forty-six people signed as charter members of the newly organized Hot Springs Spanish company. They worshiped in the Community Center and began raising money to purchase their own place for worship and outreach (Newsletter, 2006). In 2014, it was approved for the Hot Springs Spanish members to move into the former building of the Hot Springs Fellowship church which had been disbanded several months earlier (Minutes, 2014).

Hot Springs Spanish company on Alpine Street in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Google Maps, 2019.


(2006, Dec. 1). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 3.

(2014, Nov. 17). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

Harvey Lafayette “Pozzy” Gifford Sr.

Edward McCoy Gifford and his brother, Harvey Lafayette Gifford

Harvey Lafayette Gifford, Sr., was born Feb. 12, 1894, in Dallas, Texas, and died unexpectedly Oct. 14, 1971, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Brother Gifford had been a faithful member of the church for over 65 years and had lived most of his life in Shreveport. He loved the youth of the church and donated the land and much labor for the Shreveport Jr. Academy. He also built and donated the Pathfinder Club building. He with his son, built the cabinets in the new Shreveport church. Survivors included his wife, Virgie Mae; one son, Harvey L. “Buck”, Jr.; two daughters: Pauline Leggion and Susan Long; three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, two brothers, and one sister.


Ancestry Family Trees. (2012). Harvey Gifford. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

West Helena Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of West Helena, Arkansas

The Work Begins

Bible Readings was first published in 1888.

On March 20, 1893, two colporteurs, C. M. Brimer and Mr. McDonald, arrived in Helena and began canvassing in the Helena area with the book Bible Readings for the Home Circle. Within three months they had orders for over 1,000 books. One family who had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists before this, began keeping the Sabbath and made plans to attend the upcoming camp meeting in Clarksville, over 200 miles away. Two black Baptist preachers and their families also began keeping the Sabbath (Brimer, 1893).

West Helena Church Organized in 1961

The Helena congregation began as a group of twelve in 1956. Sabbath keepers met in Dollie and J. C. Lunsford’s home to worship. Others who began meeting with them were Monte and Millie Jones, who sacrificed and worked to make sure there would soon be a church building where the members could meet. In December 1960, it was voted to buy one-and-a-quarter acres where the Helena members could build a church (Minutes, 1960). Adele Bromberger, who played the piano, joined the group, adding music to their worship experience. She also brought flowers for the church every week. West Helena was organized as a church on October 14, 1961, with twenty-eight charter members, under the leadership of Elder V. O. Schneider (Record, 1997).

A few of the charter members thirty-five years later. L to R: V. O. Schneider, Myrtle Schneider, Montie Jones, Mrs. J. C. Lunsford, Gary Lunsford, J. C. Lunsford, and Geraldine Bynum. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

One Pastor’s Dream

In 2001, Pastor Clarence Hoag came with a dream of a radio station so the gospel could go to the community and soon station KIHW (Keeping in His Word) was launched (Hoag, 2013b). “KIHW-LP (104.1 FM) is a radio station licensed to serve West Helena, Arkansas. The station is owned by Hope Radio. It airs a Christian radio format deriving a portion of its programming from Radio 74 Internationale. On April 4, 2008, the FCC granted KIHW-LP a construction permit to change broadcast frequency from 97.7 to 104.1 MHz with a slight increase in effective radiated power to 24.31 watts. The station was granted a license to cover this change on March 13, 2009” (Wikipedia, 2018). Pastor Hoag passed away in 2010, but the radio station he had dreamed of continued to be a light in the community (Hoag, 2013a).

West Helena Church Dedicated

The West Helena church was dedicated on April 21, 1973 (Kostenko, 1973).

West Helena church on West Highway 49 in West Helena, Arkansas.
Photo courtesy of Elder Stephen Orian.


(1960, Dec. 12). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1997, Jan. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 10.

Brimer, C. M. (1893, Jun. 6). Review and Herald, p. 365.

Hoag, Betty Latimer. (2013a, May 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 16.

Ibid. (2013b, Jul. 1). p. 17.

Kostenko, P. A. (1973, Feb. 10). Ibid., p. 6.

Wikipedia. (2018, Mar. 1). KIHW-LP. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org.

Little Rock Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Little Rock, Arkansas

The work begins

1898 Pulaski County map showing location of Argenta (Hearthstone, 2017)

In March 1884, Elder Dolphus Austin (“D. A.”) Wellman came from Michigan to hold meetings in the Little Rock area. His work was centered in Argenta (North Little Rock), where a gentleman who had a copy of Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation which he had read through four times, was thoroughly convinced of the truth. He offered Elder and Mrs. Wellman a room in his house to occupy free of charge for as long as they were there. At the close of the meetings, one person was baptized and Elder Wellman reported that several were keeping the Sabbath in Argenta (Wellman, 1884).

Little Rock Church Organized in 1889

Dan T. Jones, Missouri Conference president, reported in the May 17, 1887, Review and Herald that tent meetings were going to begin in Little Rock (Jones, 1887). In the summer of 1887, after a lot of labor in Little Rock, a few had accepted the truth and Elder Jones was able to organize a small company (Henderson, 1888). In August 1887, Benjamin Franklin Martindale began preparing a group of canvassers to go throughout Argenta and Little Rock to continue gaining interests (Martindale, 1887). A church of twenty-six members was organized in February 1889, when the conference headquarters were moved to the Little Rock area (Henderson, 1889).

Little Rock Church Reorganized in 1901

Dr. and Mrs. William Clare Greene (Ancestry, 2012)

When the conference office moved to Van Buren in 1890, the Little Rock church floundered, but the opening of the Little Rock Sanitarium finally brought strength and stability. There were only two Adventists living in North Little Rock by this time, Mrs. Strange and Mrs. Potter. On December 26, 1900, Dr. and Mrs. William Clare Greene came to Little Rock from Battle Creek Sanitarium to take charge of treatment rooms which Greene’s brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Rawson Jacob Greene, had established. In April 1901, a young physician just out of medical school, Dr. A. W. George, came to work at the sanitarium. This small group of people organized a Sabbath school in Little Rock. A colporteur, Charles F. Parmele, and his wife also came in 1901 and were joined by another colporteur, Alex D. Valentine (Lewins, n.d.). On October 12, 1901, the church in Little Rock was reorganized with twelve members (Parmele, 1902). They met in the parlor at the Little Rock Sanitarium until the group built a church on Jefferson Street in 1908 (Gregory, 1908). On May 27, 1902, Charles Parmele’s younger brother, Rufus W. Parmele, held tent meetings in Little Rock hoping to have some good interests who would attend camp meeting in July (Field, 1902).

Little Rock Sanitarium (Ancestry, 2012). The Little Rock church met in the parlor from 1902 to 1908.

An advertisement for the Little Rock Sanitarium (Record, 1906). In 1908, the sanitarium was moved to Wolfe Street.

A New Church in 1908

The first Adventist church built in Little Rock was on Jefferson Street. This church was sold in 1923 (Record, 1924).

A New Church in 1921

Church at 1213 Marshall Street

Property with an existing church at 1213 Marshall Street in Little Rock, was purchased in the fall of 1921. A house next door was remodeled to house the Conference headquarters (Taylor, 1921). In 1925, a baptistry was added to the church (Record, 1925). For years, the rear section of the Little Rock church had been a disorderly makeshift construction. Finally in 1942, they were able to tear away and reconstruct the back of the building and include several large and attractive rooms in time for several new members to join the church at the conclusion of an evangelistic effort that fall (Record, 1942b). Tent meetings were held in the summer of 1942. The attendance was about 700 white people and 500 blacks on the night the Sabbath was presented. Although they had a large tent, about 250 people had to sit outside the tent. The members were busy visiting the homes of over 300 people who requested literature (Garrett, 1942).

Soldiers Attend The Church

In September 1940, the United States instituted the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which required all men between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five to register for the draft. By 1942, fifty Seventh-day Adventist soldiers were located at Camp Robinson in Little Rock. These men were receiving Sabbath privileges and made a large addition to the Little Rock church attendance each Sabbath. The church was very open-hearted and every soldier had the opportunity of sharing the church’s hospitality throughout each Sabbath. The soldiers were very appreciative of this kindness and many of them took an active part in church services and set an example of courage and faith for the entire membership (Record, 1942a). In 1943, the conference executive committee voted to make a twenty-five dollar appropriation to the Little Rock Church to “assist in the entertainment of our soldier boys on the Sabbath” (Minutes, 1943).

Outgrowing the church

In the fall of 1953, Stanley Harris and Henry Barron held an evangelistic crusade in Little Rock. As a result, nearly sixty people were baptized and joined the church. Among this group was a former Pentecostal minister and his family. Several other individuals were preparing to unite with the church. The Little Rock church had already reached its capacity, and were making preparations to build a new house of worship (Record, 1954).

Part of the group of people who united with the Little Rock church during the Stanley Harris-Henry Barron evangelistic crusade. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

A New Church in 1956

Inside the new Evangelistic Center on Hayes Street. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Early in 1954, some of the new members began holding evangelistic meetings, growing the church even more. That year the Little Rock church purchased a beautiful two-and-one-half acre plot of ground at 3400 South Hayes Street (later renamed University Avenue), immediately across from the Little Rock Junior College (now University of Arkansas). On September 21, 1955, the grading of the property began for the new Little Rock School and Evangelistic Center. The building was to have a large auditorium with seating for 700 (Thurmon, 1955). The members needed to raise $35,000 before they could begin building so on January 9, 1956, a representative from a Seventh-day Adventist professional fund raising group flew in from Los Angeles to conduct a canvass of the church district. Just three weeks later the membership of the Little Rock church had willingly pledged $38,858.75 for the new church building program. On Sabbath, October 6, 1956, the members met for the first time in their new evangelistic center. Beginning the next day and continuing October 7 – 9, 1956, the conference ministers’ meeting was held in the new church (Scott, 1956). In 1959, it was voted to sell the church and property on Marshall Street (Minutes, 1959).

A New Church in 1970

Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Groundbreaking for a new Little Rock church on Rodney Parham Road was held December 23, 1969. A building with a seating capacity of 400 was planned for the plot that had been purchased three years before. Building the school had been the first phase and now the church was added to the eight-and-a-half acre property (Clark, 1970a). Members met in their new church for the first time on June 27, 1970, with 350 people enjoying the grand opening celebration (Clark, 1970b). The dedication of the new church was held on December 11, 1976. The church property on University Avenue was sold in 1977 (Richey, 1977).

Construction of Little Rock church in 1970 (Record, 1970)

Little Rock church on Rodney Parham Road in Little Rock, Arkansas.


(1906, Apr. 24). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

(1924, Jan. 15). Ibid., p. 2.

(1925, Oct. 20). Ibid., p. 1.

(1942a, May 27). Ibid., p. 3.

(1942b, Sep. 9). Ibid., p. 3.

(1943, Jan. 12). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1954, Feb. 10). Southwestern Union Record, p. 1.

(1959, Jul. 8). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1970, Mar. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 5

Ancestry Family Trees. (2012). Dr. William Clare Green. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

Clark, Ernest D. (1970a, Jan. 24). Southwestern Union Record, p. 15.

Ibid. (1970b, Jul. 25). pp. 7, 8.

Field, A. E. (1902, Jun. 2). Ibid., p. 5.

Garrett, M. R. (1942, Aug. 26). Ibid., p. 3.

Gregory, M. H. (1908, Jun. 30). Ibid., p. 2.

Hearthstone Legacy Publications. (2012-2017). My Genealogy Hound. Retrieved from mygenealogyhound.com.

Henderson, J. P. (1888, May 22). Review and Herald, p. 332.

Ibid. (1889, Mar. 5). p. 155.

Lewins, Thomas Martin. Historical notes undated, unpublished.

Martindale, B. F. (1887, Aug. 16). Review and Herald, p. 526.

Parmele, Chas. F. (1902, Jan. 21). Ibid., p. 44.

Richey, Mary Margaret. (1977, Feb. 26). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 7, 8.

Scott, Betty. (1956, Oct. 24). Ibid., p. 7.

Sherrill, E. Frank. (1970, May 23). Ibid., p. 9.

Taylor, J. I. (1921, Oct. 25). Ibid., p. 3.

Thurmon, Roy B. (1955, Oct. 5). Ibid., p. 3.

Wellman, D. A. (1884, Apr. 22). Review and Herald, p. 268.

New Orleans Kenner Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Work Begins

Pastor and Mrs. Sergio Ortiz. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

In March 1970, the Arkansas-Louisiana conference president, E. Frank Sherrill, reported that they were looking for a Spanish pastor-evangelist to lead out in the work among the Spanish-speaking people in the New Orleans area (Sherrill, 1970a). In August 1970, Pastor and Mrs. Sergio Ortiz were welcomed to our conference. Pastor Ortiz, who had been serving as a district pastor in Puerto Rico, had two brothers and some other relatives living in New Orleans for whom he had a great burden. They had become discouraged because there was no Spanish-speaking Adventist church in Louisiana. Pastor Ortiz took a leave of absence from the Puerto Rican conference and he and his family moved to New Orleans (Sherrill, 1970b).

New Orleans Kenner Spanish Church Organized in 1972

Sabbath, May 20, 1972, the New Orleans Kenner church was organized with seventeen charter members. The pastor of the new church was Elder Sergio Ortiz. This was the second Spanish SDA church in our conference in Louisiana and in the New Orleans area. At camp meeting time, the Spanish churches of New Orleans were formed into a district with Elder Ortiz as the district pastor. Evangelistic meetings were then planned to help reach the more than 100,000 Spanish-speaking people in the New Orleans area. With the organization of this new church there were sixty churches in the Arkansas-Louisiana conference (Sherrill, 1972).

Members of the Kenner Spanish church in 1972. On the back row, extreme left, is Pastor Sergio Ortiz; right, back row, are Elder P. I. Nosworthy and Elder E. Frank Sherrill. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

New Orleans Kenner Spanish Church Reorganized in 2001

Apparently the first Kenner Spanish Church disbanded along the way and members were absorbed into other churches. A group began meeting again and in June 1980 it was voted to organize a Kenner Spanish company (Minutes, 1980a) There were four lots of land located in Kenner that were appropriated for the use of the Kenner Spanish company (Minutes, 1980b). Early in 2001, Israel Sanchez, a member of the Metairie Spanish church in New Orleans, called the Arkansas-Louisiana conference office to say that a group of about fifteen to twenty Spanish church members were interested in starting a new congregation. The proposed site was in Kenner. By April, the conference had appointed E. Rodolfo Prieto to serve as pastor-literature evangelist for that area. After becoming acquainted with the members, Prieto held a revival series that resulted in three baptisms and the return of several inactive members. In September, Oscar Hernandez, international publications director from Pacific Press, held a two-week evangelistic series and five more were baptized. With an average Sabbath attendance of sixty to eighty, the conference officers decided that rather than grant this group a company status, the Kenner Spanish group would be organized as a church. On Sabbath afternoon, October 6, 2001, the new church was officially organized with forty-eight charter members (Canales, 2001).

Pictured with some of the charter members signing the registry are Elder Eddie Canales, Union Hispanic Ministries Director; Elder Stephen Orian, Conference President; Kent Sharpe, Conference Treasurer; and Elder Rodolfo Prieto, Pastor (Newsletter, 2001).

A New Church

In February 2003, it was voted for the New Orleans Kenner Spanish church to purchase three pieces of adjacent property — one with a house that could be converted to a church, one lot for parking, and an additional house for a parsonage (Minutes, 2003).

New Orleans Kenner Spanish church on Loyola Drive in Kenner, Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Google Maps, 2019.


(1980a, Jun. 15). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1980b, Dec. 7). Ibid.

(2001, Nov. 1). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 6.

(2003, Feb. 26). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

Canales, Eddie. (2001, Dec. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 11.

Sherrill, E. Frank. (1970a, Mar. 28). Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid. (1970b, Sep. 12). pp. 9, 10.

Ibid. (1972, Jun. 24). p. 8.

Burton Family Joins the Church

Front row left to right: Stephen Winfred Burton and Patricia Lynn Burton, back row left to right: Mrs. Melva Sue Burton and Susan Jane Burton.

On September 24, 1966, four members of the Burton family, Stephen Winfred Burton, Patricia Lynn Burton, Susan Jane Burton, and Mrs. Melva Sue Burton, were baptized in Ten Mile Creek by Elder M. H. Rossier, becoming members of the Malvern SDA Church. Mrs. Burton had become a Seventh-day Adventist a few years before this but she became lax in church attendance and discouragement followed. In 1960, she, with her husband, Winfred, and oldest daughter, Susan, joined a Mormon church. Mrs. Burton relates that this move was against her better judgment, but it was the first time her husband, Winfred, had shown any interest in a church so it seemed best for them at that time. Soon she realized that she couldn’t allow her children to be taught untruths, and each week when they would come home from church, she would explain the right way to them (Rossier, 1966). Mrs. Burton finally decided it would be better to join the Seventh-day Adventist church in spite of her husband’s lack of interest in it. Twenty-four years later, on December 29, 1990, Winfred was also baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church.

For more of the background on how this family learned of the SDA Church, go to https://arklasdahistory.org/roxa-and-alvin-burris/.


Rossier, M. H. (1966, Nov. 12). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.

Lafayette Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Lafayette, Louisiana

The Work Begins

The first efforts to establish a church in Lafayette were in 1969 and 1970, by Pastor and Mrs. Wallace Burns and Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Scoggins, as literature evangelists. In this strong Catholic community which Seventh-day Adventists had never been able to penetrate there was a major breakthrough that got the attention of high officials. In conjunction with a federation (now Adventist Community Services) meeting there, the Adventist group put on a mass-feeding demonstration at noon, at which time they fed more than 300 people in less than ten minutes. Afterward, they had a panel discussion with the Red Cross, Civil Defense, fire department, and city officials giving them information on what their agencies do and how Adventist could better cooperate in times of disaster. With newspaper and television coverage of the event, before the day was over the entire city knew of the community service work of Seventh-day Adventists (Voss, 1969).

Lafayette members serving lunch to 300 people. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Lafayette Company Organized in 1974

Lafayette organization celebration. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

In 1973, a two-and-three-quarters-acre plot was purchased on which to build a church. Adventists living in the city at that time were a veterinarian and his wife, a male nurse and his family, a layman and his wife from California, and the pastor of the district, Keith McNabb and his family. Soon a couple from New Orleans joined them (McKnabb, 1973). The group was meeting in the Grace Lutheran church. On July 13, 1974, a covered-dish supper was held to celebrate their recent organization as the Lafayette company. About fifty members and visitors came to join the celebration (McKnabb, 1974).

It Takes Teamwork

Tom Patzer
Eugene Ryan

In late 1974, the conference sent their dark county* team, Pastor Eugene Ryan and Tom Patzer to Lafayette as literature evangelists, determined to build a strong church in that city (Elder, 1975). They were assisted by students from Ozark Academy (now Ozark Adventist Academy) and Southwestern Union College (now Southwestern Adventist University) in conducting a Vacation Bible School. In the fall of 1975, an evangelistic team of Cline Johnson and Bill Tucker held a series in the Gabriel room of the Travelodge Motel. With an average attendance of 100 nightly and approximately forty non-Seventh-day Adventists the meetings continued for four weeks, with interests followed up by Elder Ryan (Record, 1976a).

VBS Team of students from OA and SUC (Record, 1976b)

A New Church in 1976

Forms being set for the pouring of the foundation and slab on the new church at Lafayette. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.
Construction began on the new church. Pictured here are Ernest Jackson, pastor at the time, and Clare Braman, builder. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Early in 1976, the Lafayette members began building a church on their property just off Highway 167 on Rena Drive. The new church seated 125 with space for Sabbath school rooms and a fellowship hall (Griffin, 1976).

Lafayette Church Organized in 1976

Part of the newly organized Lafayette church members standing in front of their new building. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

On the afternoon of September 4, 1976, Elder Haskell officiated in the organization of the Lafayette church with thirty-three charter members. The nominating committee did a portion of its work during lunch, then presented a list of names for the principle offices and these were voted by the church members (Jackson, 1976).

Lafayette church on Rena Drive in Lafayette, Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Elder Stephen Orian.

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


(1976a, Jan. 24). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.

(1976b, Feb. 14). Ibid., p. 16.

Elder, Jr., W. H. (1975, Feb. 2). Ibid., p. 6.

Griffin, W. J. (1976, Apr. 24). Ibid., p. 7.

Jackson, E. E. (1976, Nov. 13). Ibid., p. 9.

McKnabb, Keith. (1973, Dec. 8). Ibid., p. 9.

Ibid. (1974, Oct. 24). pp. 8, 9.

Voss, Howard H. (1969, Nov. 22). Ibid., pp. 5, 6.