The Work Begins
In the spring and summer of 1902, a colporteur named Arthur R. Songer, worked in the Jonesboro area for two months. Several other colporteurs were working near the area. They would meet back at Songer’s tent to hold Sabbath school and prayer meetings, giving out tracts, loaning books, and giving Bible readings. When Songer left, there were five Sabbath keepers there (Songer, 1902). September 11-22 of that same year, camp meeting was held in Jonesboro (Record, 1902). In 1904, E. L. Manfull brought a group of colporteurs to work in the Jonesboro area (Sommerville, 1904). By December 1904, a new Sabbath school had been organized and was growing (Record, 1904). Tent meetings were held in Jonesboro throughout the years in 1905, 1916, and 1918. In the spring of 1921, David M. Twiggs reported good attendance and interest in a meeting he held near Jonesboro. He began with about twenty-five in attendance the first night, but soon had two and three hundred. Even after he spoke about the Sabbath, Change of the Sabbath, et cetera, the interest still continued (Record, 1921). There was not much commitment, however. Although the little group did not die out, neither did it grow much until 1928.
Jonesboro Church Organized in 1928
Elder R. M. Montgomery held a four-week series of meetings in the summer of 1928 and on Sabbath, October 13, 1928, he organized a church of fifteen members, who were meeting in the Odd Fellows’ hall (Montgomery, 1928). Shortly after this in the fall of 1928, Elder Isaac Baker and his wife moved to Jonesboro and held a week of prayer at both Jonesboro and Searcy. The Jonesboro members met in various members’ homes for the daily meetings. Under Elder Baker’s leadership the church soon completed arrangements for the use of a little brick church building in which to hold Sabbath meetings and Sunday night meetings (Baker, 1929). Over the years, the little church again died out, leaving only isolated members in the area.
Elder R. M. Montgomery ca. 1930
Jonesboro Church Reorganized in 1952
One of these isolated members, M. L. Castine, began visiting homes on Friday afternoons and Sundays, with tracts and books (Green, 1941) and inviting people to a family Sabbath school in his home. There were baptisms as a result of his efforts (Beeler, 1941). In the fall of 1944, Elder F. H. Hewitt, assisted by Leon Strickland, held meetings in Jonesboro. During this time, Elder Hewitt was asked by a local minister to hold a debate about the Sabbath. During the debate, many of the members of the local minister’s church were more sympathetic with Elder Hewitt because he maintained a sweet, Christian attitude, whereas the other minister used tactics that did not reflect a Christ-like spirit. Following the debate and the meetings, there was good interest in the Adventist message (Wells, 1945). On Sabbath, April 26, 1952, the Jonesboro church was again organized, with twenty-seven charter members (Nichols, 1952).
A New Church in 1953
In 1953, the Jonesboro members had begun building a church. The basement had been put in and was in use, but they did not have the money to build the rest of the structure. On October 24, 1953, a special conference-wide offering was taken to help complete the church to protect it from the weather. (Sanders, 1953). The Jonesboro church was dedicated on Sabbath, September 5, 1958 (Evans, 1959).
During the 1980s, the church was located at 302 Steele Street in Jonesboro. The school met in the basement of the church (Evaluation, 1980).
A New Church on West Washington Avenue
(1902, Jun. 23). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.
(1904, Dec. 5). Ibid., p. 1.
(1921, Mar. 29). Ibid., p. 3.
(1980, Mar. 25). Evaluation of Jonesboro Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
Baker, Isaac. (1929, Jan. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.
Beeler, Charles R. (1941, Oct. 27). Ibid., p. 3.
Evans, I. M. (1959, Aug. 26). Ibid., p. 4.
Green, J. A. P. (1941, Oct. 20). Ibid., p. 1.
Montgomery, R. M. (1928, Oct. 23). Ibid., p. 2.
Nichols, J. D. (1952, May 28). Ibid., p. 4.
Sanders, F. O. (1953, Oct. 21). Ibid., p. 6.
Sommerville, J. A. (1904, Jul. 4). Ibid., p. 2.
Songer, A. R. (1902, Jun. 23). Ibid., p. 7.
Wells, Frank D. (1945, Jan. 3). Ibid., p. 4.