A Brief History of Fayetteville, Arkansas
The Work Begins
Near the end of October 1877, Joseph D. Powers, an early Seventh-day Adventist who lived about ten miles east of Fayetteville in Goshen, came to Fayetteville and held a public discussion about the Sabbath with Elder Perry of the local Disciples of Christ church. Excitement ran high as another Disciples of Christ minister, Elder Beaman, also tried his skills as an antagonist, but in the end he gladly accepted some reading materials about the Sabbath. As a result of these public meetings, five people kept the next Sabbath. Elder John H. Cook, who had come from Kansas and had his temporary headquarters in Fayetteville, stated that, “The Advent Sabbath faith is entirely new here, and various are the speculations in regard to it. In the minds of many who do not read very extensively there is a suspicious feeling existing toward strangers coming with what they call ‘new things,’ especially if they come from the North. As usual in other places, the cry of Mormon, impostor, and false prophet, is raised, and if these fail the whole is capped with ‘soul sleeper'” (Cook, 1877).
More Meetings and Members
In November 1885, four weeks of meetings were held in Fayetteville by Elder Joseph G. Wood from Missouri, and James W. Scoles, a very talented musician and singer, from Michigan. Circuit court was in session during this time and Scoles and two other Adventist men had been indicted and were being tried at this session of the court because of the new Sunday law of the state. Jurors, witnesses, and representative men from all parts of the county attended the meetings. It became too cold in the evenings to keep people comfortable so the meetings were brought to a close on November 29, 1885 (Wood, 1885). James W. Scoles spent February 5-12, 1886, with “the little company” in Fayetteville, holding Bible readings and visiting. On Sabbath and Sunday, he preached in the courthouse and two more promised to keep the Sabbath (Scoles, 1886).
Camp Meeting in Fayetteville
August 16-27, 1894, camp meeting was held in Fayetteville. About 300 camped there, with some coming by wagon 100 to 200 miles to attend, and the interests from the outside were very good. Following the meetings, Elder J. B. Beckner and his family went to Springdale to visit the believers there, while Elder G. W. Page remained in Fayetteville to follow up the interests. Twelve people accepted the message (Shaw, 1894).
Fayetteville Church Organized in 1897
As various evangelists visited Arkansas, they stopped at Fayetteville to encourage the believers and hold a few meetings. In March 1897, Elder John A. Holbrook was traveling throughout the territory, visiting churches. On Monday, March 22, 1897, he arrived at Fayetteville and organized their church with a membership of ten that afternoon (Holbrook, 1897). Charter members were G. E. Norwood, M. E. Jackson, S. Simonds, Vesta Norwood, A. L. Bentley, Robert Stewart, J. W. Norwood (who later became the Arkansas Conference President from 1909-1913), S. Norwood, Della Hedrick, and W. A. Norwood. Meetings were first held near the intersection of College and Sixth Street in the home of G. E. Norwood who was elected Elder. In May of that same year, Frank and Margaret Sherrill (grandparents of Frank Sherrill who served as the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference President from 1966-1974) were received into membership (Times, 1970).
A New Church in 1904
In November 1901, it was decided a new place for worship was needed. A committee began to search and on December 24, 1903, they purchased a lot at 25 E. South Street (Times, 1970). Members began hauling and breaking rock to create a foundation for a new church and then the building began (Record, 1903). It was a struggle for the few church members to both build and continue witnessing to their community, but they completed their church in April 1904 and Elder E. L. Fortner came and held meetings in May 1904. As a result, fifteen new members joined the church (Norwood, 1904). On May 19, 1906, the new church was dedicated debt free (Santee, 1906).
A New Church in 1977
In 1970, the Fayetteville church was sold and by June 1971, plans were completed for the construction of a new church on a three-acre lot on Highway 265 (Crossover Road) (Minutes, 1971). In 1973, construction began on the new building. E. Hayes, Robert Carrico, F. J. Mathias, I. W. Reck, Floyd Icenogle, and James Barnett were among the members who coordinated the plans, while all the members sacrificed, and worked hard to see that the church was built (Times, 1970; Griffin, 1977). However, in 1976, several members moved away and there was no money to complete the church (Minutes, 1976). During the following months the building program, while not halted, was carried on at a slow pace because of the small congregation and lack of funds. In April 1977, the conference conducted a Stewardship week for the members and they were challenged to raise $3,000 and borrow $3,000 and their funds would be matched for a total of $6,000. On April 30, Elder Edmund Klute, the interim pastor for the Fayetteville district, told his exciting life story. The church was nearly filled. On that day he presented the financial needs of the church. They were surprised by a response of over $1,600. The members also experienced a spiritual renewal during this time. The conference asked Pastor Ernest Jackson, an experienced contractor, to come from the Lafayette district for two to three weeks to give direction to the building program. Several laymen came from the Gentry area to donate their time and labor to help finish the church. By the end of May 1977, these volunteers were working hard to complete the inside (Griffin, 1977). The church was dedicated debt free in 1983 (Young, 1983).
(1903, Sep. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.
(1970, Oct. 10). Adventists Preparing for New Building, Northwest Arkansas Times, p. 7.
(1971, Jun. 1). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
Cook, J. H. (1877, Nov. 8). Review and Herald, p. 150.
Griffin, Jim. (1977, May 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.
Holbrook, J. A. (1897, May 4). Review and Herald, p. 285.
Norwood, G. E. (1904, May 23). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.
Santee, Clarence. (1906, May 22). Ibid., p. 5.
Scoles, James W. (1886, Mar. 23). Review and Herald, p. 188.
Shaw, J. L. (1894, Sep. 11). Ibid., p. 588.
Wood, J. G. (1885, Dec. 22). Ibid., p. 796.
Young, Kathy. (1983, Jun. 23). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 8F, 8G.