Clarksville Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Clarksville, Arkansas

The Work Begins

Elder Joseph Madison Rees

In 1893, tent meetings with about 200 in attendance, were held in Clarksville prior to a camp meeting. The evangelists were Joseph M. Rees, conference president, and W. F. Martin. Eight people were keeping the Sabbath and a Sabbath school was organized. Elder Rees was given free use of the courthouse in which to preach, although the Sabbath school met in a private home (Rees, 1893).

Clarksville Company organized in 1980

Evangelist Keith Knoche. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

In the late 1950s, some believers in the Clarksville area began meeting in a tent with the Russellville church. Later they moved to a brick schoolhouse in Russellville and eventually began meeting with believers in Plainview. By the early 1970s, they were using the Union Hall in Russellville to hold services. In late 1979, a couple by the name of Don and Phyllis Malvaney moved to the Clarksville area. Around 1980, the Malvaneys organized a small group that began meeting and studying the Bible on their own. This group included the Malvaneys, the Bostwicks, the Bartletts, the Hiltons, and Carl Holland and they decided to attend the Russellville church. Elder Alvin A. Wilson, the pastor, arranged for the conference evangelist, Keith Knoche, to hold a series of meetings in the Russellville Ramada Inn (Wilson, 1980). At the end of these meetings Carl Holland, Mary Ann Bartlett, and the Hiltons were baptized. Jordis Bostwick and the Malvaneys joined the church on profession of faith. This group formed the nucleus of the Clarksville company. Don Malvaney arranged for them to rent the A.M.E. Methodist Church on College Avenue across from the University of the Ozarks. The group was organized as a company on October 24, 1980, with Don Malvaney appointed as the leader (Young, 1993).

L to R: Elder A. A. Wilson, Carl W. Holland, Mary Ann Bartlett, Jordis Bostwick, Delores Bostwick, Beulah Hewgley, Phyllis Malvaney, Don Malvaney, and Elder Keith Knoche (Wilson, 1980).

Membership Decline

More evangelistic meetings were held in 1981 and 1982. The Clarksville company found a mobile home on Highway 21 owned by the Episcopal Church, which they rented for the next ten or eleven months. Unfortunately feelings of discord and disunity began to grow among the members and some moved away or separated from the company. This left only five or six believers, so to save the expense of renting, they began meeting in member’s homes, mostly in Phyllis Betnar’s since it was centrally located. Woody Cowart served as the lay pastor and they held as much of the Sabbath school and church service as possible (Young, 1993).

Membership Growth

In 1983, one acre of land was purchased on Wire Road and in January 1984 a small mobile home was purchased and placed on the property. Elder Richard Hall was now the pastor and things were looking up. In 1987, people began to move back. Among these were Carl and Leeta Holland and their children. Carl had been attending Southwestern Union College and he held a Revelation Seminar in the old hospital building. In 1988, Charles Keith and Sarah Holland were baptized. Elder Phil and Louise Young moved there that year, bringing her mother and step-father with them. The Bostwicks were again able to attend along with Linda Landowski and her family. The Holbens, the Friesens, the Keylons and the Proctors all began attending, and by 1992 there were twenty-eight members. Elder Larry Priest was now the pastor and in the spring of 1992 a building committee was formed (Young, 1993).

A New Church in 1992

Building the Clarksville church. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

On July 14, 1992, volunteers from eight different churches in Arkansas and Louisiana joined the Clarksville congregation to assemble a new church building on Wire Road for the Clarksville congregation. Beginning with a previously poured foundation, volunteers framed and sided the 28′ x 44′ structure in less than one day. The members of the Clarksville company were very thankful for their new church building. After meeting for over eleven years in the old trailer house, they were glad to worship in a more proper structure (Record, 1992). The opening service in the new church was at the end of August 1992. Sabbath school classes continued to meet in the mobile home behind the church. That was also Elder Larry Priest’s last Sabbath in that district (Young, 1993).

Charter members of the Clarksville church organized in 1993. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Clarksville Church Organized in 1993

Elder Richard Allison was the next pastor from 1992 to 1995. He was a great encouragement to the members in working toward becoming an officially organized church (Young, 1993). The Clarksville church was organized on February 20, 1993, by Elder William Woodruff and Ray Daniel with thirty charter members (Phil Young, 1993). In 1995 Elder Alvin Wilson returned as the interim pastor until Elder Jerry Mayes arrived in January 1996. He stayed one year, then Carl Holland became the district pastor. He served from January 1997 until March 2001. During this time the church was able to pay off its debt and on August 21, 1999, the church was dedicated (Young, 2010).

A Generous Gift

Between 1996 and 2007, various pastors and evangelists held five evangelistic meetings. The membership grew to eighty-seven. For several years the congregation discussed whether they should add on to their church, build a new one elsewhere, or buy an existing building. They heard that the New Life Church was for sale but it was more than they could afford. Then in January 2006, they learned that the price had been greatly reduced. The Clarksville church could not buy the New Life church unless they sold their two church properties on Highway 352. They listed them for sale but had only a small amount of interest, except for the fact that the Spanish Adventist group had begun meeting in the Adventist Community Service building which had been built on the lot next door in 2004. The Spanish group could not afford to purchase the property, but in early May 2006 a couple from California who were visiting friends in Clarksville met the Spanish group. They were very impressed with what they saw and very generously offered to purchase the entire property and gift it to the Spanish group (Young, 2010)!

By June 2006, the Clarksville church had moved into their new facility, the former New Life church. They had set up a fifteen year loan and hoped they could make the payments for all those years. One year later the same generous couple sent a check to pay off the church loan! The church was extremely thankful (Young, 2010).

Clarksville church on Main Street in Clarksville, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Elder Stephen Orian.

Citations

(1992, Sep. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 27.

Rees, J. M. (1893, Oct. 17). Review and Herald, p. 653.

Wilson, Alvin A. (1980, Aug. 7). Southwestern Union Record, p. 12D.

Young, Mary. (1993). Clarksville SDA Church History. Unpublished.

Ibid. (2010).

Young, Phil. (1993, Jun. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 12.