Forrest City Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Forrest City, Arkansas

The Work Begins

Beginning in 1917, Ira Henry Newkirk from Fayetteville, Arkansas, began canvassing not only in the Forrest City area but also other places in Arkansas (Record, 1917). He continued canvassing in these areas for twelve years. He described his time there by explaining how he walked long hours over hot, dusty, roads with mud and snow, often hungry, and frequently sleeping on the ground (Newkirk, 1956). Over the years as other ministers and colporteurs traveled their circuits, they frequently stopped in Forrest City to meet with isolated believers.

Branch Sabbath School

Sabbath afternoon, November 14, 1959, a new group of believers chose the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Smith as their meeting place each Sabbath. Officers were chosen to lead out in services (O’Brien, 1959). In 1966, an intensive effort was made by Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Clayton, and others to enroll their neighbors in Bible studies. As a result of their work, on January 20, 1967, thirty-six people graduated from the Bible course. This group was formed into a branch Sabbath school in the summer of 1968. Over the next four years another sixty people graduated from the Bible course through the continuing work of these faithful laymen (Voss, 1970).

Forrest City Company Organized in 1969

On April 12, 1969, this group was organized as a company with ten baptized members and several of the Bible school interests preparing for baptism. The members began making plans and saving toward a church building of their own (Voss, 1970).

Forrest City Church Organized in 1976

In February 1976, the conference moved the dark-county* evangelists, Elder and Mrs. Eugene Ryan, into the Forrest City area. Elder Ryan conducted Sabbath school and church services in a rented church. Then in the late spring, a series of evangelistic meetings were held by J. C. Baker and Ken E. Simpson and their wives. The eleven new converts, together with those in the Forrest City area, were organized into a new church of thirty-four members on June 26, 1976 (Griffin, 1976).

A New Church

The members of the congregation prayed, fasted, and sacrificed for a meeting place of their own. God miraculously led them to one-half acre of property in a good location on a prominent street. Laymen from other churches volunteered their time to work with the members to begin construction of a new church in October 1976 (Griffin, 1976). The first worship service in the new building was on February 26, 1977, and on November 19, 1983, with a membership of forty-seven, the church was dedicated (Palmer, 1984).

(Left) Hollis Scarbrough, Adventist businessman from Gentry, Arkansas, was in charge of the building. His time was donated. (Center) Dr. Jack Lucas assists with electrical. Dr. Lucas was a doctor from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Right) Buck Langlois from Baton Rouge donated his time to do all the electrical work on this new church. Buck was an electrical contractor in Baton Rouge (Griffin, 1976).
Forrest City church under construction in 1976 (Griffin, 1976)
Forrest City church on Newcastle Road in Forrest City, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Google Maps, 2013.

*A dark county was an area where no active Adventist work was being done.

Citations

(1917, Mar. 27). Southwestern Union Record, p. 6.

Griffin, W. J. (1976, Dec. 11). Ibid., pp. 6, 7.

Newkirk, Ira H. (1956, Feb. 19). Ibid., pp. 9, 10.

O’Brien, G. D. (1959, Dec. 9). Ibid., p. 6.

Palmer, Marye. (1984, Jan. 5). Ibid., p. 16G.

Voss, H. H. (1970, Feb, 14). Ibid., p. 7.