The Work Begins
Some of the first Adventists we know of in the area were Mrs. Eva Robison, living with her daughter in a house on Highway 110, and Alfred and Zona Perry of Clinton, Arkansas, who studied the 20th Century Bible Course and were baptized on August 14, 1954, by Elder W. H. Westermeyer (Record, 1958). In early 1961 Thelma Shands and the Singleterrys moved to the area and together started a branch Sabbath school in Thelma’s home south of Clinton in June 1961. Then Colonel Walter E. Deaux and his family moved to the Rushing area and started the Rocky Brook branch Sabbath school, which the Singleterrys began attending when Thelma Shands moved away (McLafferty, 1972).
The Group Grows
In June 1962, the Otis Bennett family moved from California to Dennard, Arkansas, with the purpose of working for God. On November 4, 1962, they arranged for a Sabbath school to meet in the Dennard Community Church with their two Adventist neighbors, June and Linda Willoughby, — their total attendance for the next four months. What a happy surprise it was on a Sabbath in March 1963, when the Galen Watts family of four walked in announcing that they had come to keep the Sabbath! The group had doubled (Schneider, 1967). Their interest started by reading the book, What Jesus Said by H. M. S. Richards. The Watts loaned their book to Sam Davis who, after reading it, joined the group. The Shandleys, Bolenders, Mr. Graham and Gladys German came about that time. Then a little later the McClendon family started attending. By the spring of 1964, there were about fifty people attending this Sabbath school (McLafferty, 1972).
Clinton Company Organized in 1964
In 1964, an evangelistic series was conducted in Clinton by Elder Ernest A. Lemon, assisted by Pastor Carlton Dyer and Fletcher Elliott (Schneider, 1967). During the same year, Elder and Mrs. G. M. McLafferty retired near Clinton. As a result of the initial interest at Dennard combined with the Clinton meetings, a company was organized with twenty members on December 12, 1964.
Clinton Church Organized in 1967
During much of its existence, the company continued meeting in the Dennard Community Church. Later they moved to a log building known as the “Hut.” In November of 1965, they moved back to the Dennard Community Church for warmer quarters (McLafferty, 1972).
A New Building in 1967
The company began planning a new church, and April 15, 1967, was the first Sabbath the services were held in the first section of the new building, the school section, which was under construction (Schneider, 1967). This first stage of the building was made with home-made building blocks with the use of a Cinva-Ram Block Press from Bogota, Columbia, South America.
Clinton Church Organized in 1967
The Clinton church was organized as the fifty-first church in our conference (Minutes, 1967) on December 18, 1967, with seventeen members. Elder Ben E. Leach, president of the Southwestern Union Conference, gave the address. Elder Paul I. Nosworthy, the conference treasurer, led out in the act of dedication and Elder E. F. Sherrill, the conference president, offered the dedicatory prayer. The first services held in the new sanctuary part of the project were in May 1969 (McLafferty, 1972).
A New Church in 2016
On Sabbath, October 22, 2016, members and visitors of the Clinton church walked from their old church building, which seated around sixty people, to their new sanctuary, which seats 150. There the congregation held its first worship service in their new sanctuary, which was joined to an existing building on the property (Whitley, 2017).
(1958, Oct. 15). Southwestern Union Record, p. 15.
(1967, Aug. 30). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
McLafferty, G. M. (1972, Feb. 12). Southwestern Union Record, p. 5.
Schneider, Don C. (1967, Oct. 28). Ibid., p. 10.
Whitley, Karen. (2017, June). A Growing Congregation. Retrieved from swurecord.