Mena Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Mena, Arkansas

The Work Begins

In 1905, a young colporteur named Eddie Taylor reported that he went to Mena in July and began to canvass there. He said, “I found a few of our people here, but no work had ever been done here; so this is entirely a new field for the truth.” In addition, Eddie and his wife gave away tracts and papers every chance they could get (Taylor, 1905).

Mena Church Organized in 1905

On October 10, 1905, Elder L. W. Felter organized the church in Mena (Felter, 1905). Apparently it disbanded sometime along the way, but in 1948, Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Harrison moved to Mena from Des Moines, Iowa, and found two families keeping the Sabbath (Wells, 1948), one of which was the John Daniel family. The Daniels lived at the foot of Rich Mountain and opened their home to anyone interested in Bible study. They had recently been baptized into the Adventist church, and were very missionary minded (Kostenko, 1991). The Harrison’s began holding regular Sabbath meetings and these two families attended (Wells, 1948). In March 1952, the little Mena company asked to be organized as a church (Minutes, 1952). By 1956, there were eighteen active members (Ashton, 1958).

Mena Church Reorganized in 1957

In early 1956, the congregation purchased an old brick school building in Dallas Valley, which they remodeled to fit their needs. Their first Sabbath in their new church was October 6, 1956 (Beason, 1956). On June 1, 1957, the Mena company was organized into the Dallas Valley Mena church with thirty-six charter members (Ashton, 1958). In August 1957, William M. Ashton, a retired postal worker from Texas, and Elder Balser began looking for a place to hold tent meetings in Mena. They decided Janssen Park was the ideal location. The first night, over fifty people had to stand at the back. The next day, Elder Balser and Mr. Heitzmann brought more chairs that had been stored in Jonesboro, but there were still not enough. There were still people standing and some even sat in their cars next to the tent to listen. The local radio station gave free advertisements of the meetings every day except Sunday and the local newspaper gave free space not only to advertise, but also printed sermon reports written up each evening after the meeting. In September, the meetings were moved to the Dallas Valley Mena church (Ashton, 1957).

Church Dedication

The Mena church located in Dallas Valley was dedicated on November 7, 1959. J. G. Harrison and William M. Ashton had worked untiringly for this church. Elder C. L. Beason was the district pastor when the property was purchased (Record, 1960). In her Will, Mrs. Kathryn Reed of Mena, left $6,000 for the improvement of the Mena church. J. G. Harrison of Board Camp, and B. J. Rowland of Mena, worked faithfully on making new improvements to the church. Mahogany paneling was put on the walls, green wall-to-wall carpeting was laid on the floors, and the ceiling was covered with acoustical material. The rest rooms were also updated. All of these improvements were dedicated to the Lord on June 24, 1967 (Schiffbauer, 1967).

The Mena church in Dallas Valley in 1960. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

A New Church in 1990

Property was purchased in 1984 and a ground-breaking ceremony was held Friday afternoon, August 19, 1988, for the construction of a new church building in Mena (Woodruff, 1988). The church met in the Dallas Valley Mena church until 1990, when they completed construction on their new building and moved to the current church on Fairgrounds Road (Lawry, 2013). Their new church was dedicated on Sabbath, May 11, 1991 (Kostenko, 1991).

Groundbreaking for the new Mena church. L to R: Glen Paxton, builder; Ralph Carbaugh, municipal building inspector and church member; William Woodruff, conference president; Emma Lay, church historian; Jerry Montgomery, Mena mayor; Stephen Burton, church school teacher; Norma Wolter; Eli Lee, local builder; Mabel Madsen, co-director with Norma Wolter of Community Services; and Jerry Paxton, head elder. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.
Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.
Mena church on Fairground Road in Mena, Arkansas.

Citations

(1952, Mar. 18). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1960, Apr. 6). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.

Ashton, Mr. and Mrs. William M. (1957, Sep. 11). Ibid., pp. 4, 5.

Ibid. (1958, Apr. 30). p. 11.

Beason, C. L. (1956, Oct. 31). Ibid., p. 10.

Felter, L. W. (1905, Oct. 17). Ibid., p. 2.

Kostenko, Peter A. (1991, Jul. 1). Ibid., p. 14.

Lawry, Richard. (2013, Dec. 5). My Spiritual Journey. Retrieved from richard-lawry.blogspot.com.

Schiffbauer, Dan W. (1967, Aug. 12). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 9, 10.

Taylor, Eddie. (1905, Oct. 10). Ibid., p. 2.

Wells, F. D. (1948, Mar. 17). Ibid., p. 3.

Woodruff, William. (1988, Oct. 14). Ibid., p. 10.