The Work Begins
In June 1934, Elder M. L. Wilson and his wife, along with R. M. Whitsett, held tent meetings in El Dorado. There were eighty to ninety in attendance each night (Wilson, 1934a). On Tuesday, August 7, 1934, volunteers began building a tabernacle in which to meet. After four days, the building was sufficiently completed for them to meet in it on Sabbath. There were over two hundred in attendance that day (Wilson, 1934b).
El Dorado Church Organized in 1935
The following summer, Elder Wilson again held meetings in El Dorado, with Charles Beeler as his assistant. On August 10, 1935, the conference president, Elder H. C. Hartwell, visited and organized a church of twenty-six members (Hartwell, 1935). The members met in a rough, unpainted building with a sawdust and shaving floor. Finally by December 1938, they had remodeled, painted, ceiled and floored the building and given it an attractive appearance (Pound, 1938).
In 1940, an evangelistic effort was held in El Dorado beginning June 18. A lot was secured near the center of town upon which a tent was erected for the meeting. In preparation for this effort the local church systematically placed nearly 32,000 copies of the Present Truth in the homes of the people in El Dorado and surrounding areas (Record, 1940). In April 1941, Carl Pine and Buddy Rogers began a lay evangelistic effort near El Dorado. Between two and three hundred people were present the first night, opening a large opportunity for these young men to proclaim the message. Buddy Rogers and his wife had been won to the truth in the effort held at El Dorado the year before (Record, 1941). Camp meeting was held in the El Dorado High School auditorium August 1 – 9, 1941. The El Dorado church members furnished the meals, charging a reasonable rate, and helped provide lodging for guests (Record, 1941).
In 1946, Claude Reed sold his home in Little Rock, purchased a fully-equipped trailer and relocated at El Dorado where he put in a good winter working to spread the gospel (Record, 1946). The original church and lot were sold that year and another lot was purchased. Construction of a new church building was started in 1947 by Elder Martin C. Shain. Stanley Harris and his associates held a series of evangelistic meetings in El Dorado early in 1954. On February 7, the evangelistic crusade opened its meetings in the Randolph Hotel Ballroom. There was a very poor attendance on the opening day, but as word got around of the high calibre of the meetings, the attendance increased. After the first week, the auditorium filled for each of the week-night meetings and was full at both meetings on Sunday. The evangelistic group was asked to take one of the Sunday services at a Baptist church in El Dorado. The pastor of this church was very friendly and attended a number of the meetings. He read all the literature that was given him. At the start of the evangelistic campaign, the El Dorado church had a membership of twenty-eight. Thirty new members were received into the church before the last week of meetings closed, more than doubling the membership. A dozen more made their decision and united with the church shortly afterward (Harris, 1954).
A New Church in 1955
In 1947, it was voted for the El Dorado members to build a church on a lot they already owned, after they had raised seventy-five per cent of the cost (Minutes, 1947). With the help of all members in 1955, a new church was soon completed. February 25, 1956, was the dedication day for the El Dorado church. In addition to the sanctuary, the building contained a school room, Sabbath school rooms, a Dorcas room, a mother’s room with a speaker, and a kitchen. Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Ritchey were the only two of the charter members who were present at the service (Lighthall, 1956).
A New Church in 1980
In April 1979, a little over sixteen acres of land was purchased for a church (Minutes, 1979). The fifty-six member congregation began construction on the new church building on May 17, 1979. Glenn Payne, conference builder, arrived on May 18 to supervise the project. A call went out for workers and the response was terrific. Memorial Day weekend, May 28 and 29, forty-one men were on the job site. As skilled men worked together, the trusses went up and a church began to take shape. Despite rain, the work continued through Monday. The new church was located on a wooded site on Highway 82 East. The total footage for the new building and a house, to be used as an annex, was 5,722 square feet. This included a large schoolroom and a fellowship room (Sisk, 1979). Members of the El Dorado church celebrated the completion of their church with special services on November 8, 1980 (Sisk, 1980). In 1983, it was voted for the church to sell some lots from their property to help pay off their mortgage (Minutes, 1983). The new church in El Dorado was dedicated on July 16, 1994 (Record, 1994).
(1941, May 5). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.
(1941, Jul. 7). Ibid., p. 2.
(1946, Jun. 19). Ibid., p. 3.
(1946, Sep. 11). Ibid., p. 2.
(1947, Mar. 20). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1979, Apr. 17). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
(1983, Oct. 13). Ibid.
(1994, Oct. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 12.
Harris, Stanley. (1954, Jun. 2). Ibid., p. 7.
Hartwell, H. C. (1935, Aug. 21). Ibid., p. 4.
Lighthall, W. J. (1956, Mar. 14). Ibid., pp. 3, 8.
Pound, I. C. (1938, Dec. 7). Ibid., p. 6.
Sisk, John. (1979, Sep. 6). Ibid., p. 12G.
Sisk, Laura. (1980, Dec. 25). Ibid., pp. 16D, E.
Wilson, M. L. (1934a, Jul. 11). Ibid., p. 4.
Ibid. (1934b, Aug. 22). p. 3.