Remember the Sabbath, and honor the place where I am worshiped. I am the Lord.
Leviticus 26:2 ICB
The Work Begins
The Sabbath message was introduced into Arkansas and Louisiana by Adventists in northern states sending tracts and publications to friends and relatives in this area. Canvassers also came, working mainly in the northern and central parts of Arkansas, and around New Orleans in Louisiana. Home Bible readings and neighborhood meetings were the result of this early work. As interests grew and became known, workers came from other states, where the work had begun as early as 1858. This early work in Arkansas and Louisiana was done by individuals with no headquarters and no general organization.
Early Sabbath Schools and Churches In Arkansas
In 1884 workers were sent by the General Conference to Arkansas to hold tent meetings in Springdale. Over the next two years, by use of public tent meetings and canvassers, the work spread from Springdale to about one-third of the state. These tent meetings resulted in people signing what was known as a “Sabbath Keeping Covenant” in which they pledged to keep the “commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” by supporting Sabbath meetings and Sabbath schools. These early groups of Sabbath keepers were then organized into a Sabbath school, or a church when a few had been baptized.
In July 1886, Elder Dan T. Jones, president of the Missouri conference, stated that in Arkansas there were 107 organized Sabbath keepers in the Springdale and Siloam Springs area, 120 in the state, and about fifty others keeping the Sabbath that belonged to no organization (Jones, 1886). Churches in the state included Springdale, Star of the West, Cincinnati, Robinson, Hindsville and Siloam Springs, along with interests in Little Rock and Fayetteville. By 1888, when the Arkansas Conference was established, there were ten recognized churches: Brentwood, Cincinnati, Hill Top (Harrison), Hindsville, Little Rock, Malvern, Mt. Pleasant, Springdale, Star of the West, and Siloam Springs. Sixteen Sabbath schools were organized which included Benton, Brentwood, Cincinnati, Eureka Springs, Hill Top, Harrison, Little Rock, Lonoke, Malvern, Mt. Pleasant, O’Day, Siloam Springs, Springdale, Star of the West, Texarkana, and West Fork (Youth Instructor, 1888).
The Work in Louisiana
In Louisiana, the work was mainly centered in the city of New Orleans. Upon learning of the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition that was to be held in there in 1884 to 1885, and seeing the opportunity to contact people from all over the world with the gospel, the General Conference sent the Texas Conference president, Elder Robert Meek Kilgore, to open a city Mission in New Orleans. The principal factors contributing to church growth were annual camp meetings, canvassing, and tent crusades and the few workers in Louisiana were constantly involved in one of these methods of spreading the message.
By 1886 there were two churches, New Orleans and Marthaville, neither of them very strong. Other early churches that were established in Louisiana by 1901 when the Louisiana Conference was organized, were those in Hope Villa and Mansfield (The Daily Signal, 1901) and New Orleans No. 2, a black church. Sabbath schools and companies included Bastrop, Hammond, Lake Charles, Shreveport, and Welsh. At the end of the year, the conference reported six churches and one company, 178 members, and two ordained ministers (Bulletin, 1902).
Manual for Ministers Published in 1926
History of Individual Churches, Companies, and Groups
Churches are listed by general location which may not reflect the church’s actual name or suburb. List reflects mainly current organizations. Many other churches came and went over the years.
(1888, Sep. 5). Youth Instructor, p. 6.
(1902). General Conference Bulletin, First Quarter, p. 596.
(1926, Feb. 4). Review and Herald, p. 23.
Jones, Dan T. (1886, Jul. 6). Ibid., p. 16.