Roxa and Alvin Burris

Submitted in 2019 in part by Melva Sue (Burris) Burton

Where Do You Go Every Saturday?

Roxa Burris in 1919

My mother [Roxa Burris], loved to have a pretty yard, so she worked out in the flowerbed and tended the yard several times a week. She noticed that every Saturday this same woman was walking down the road from a long way, up above where we lived. She was holding a baby in her arms, holding one by the hand, and she had a whole string of kids. One hot summer day my mother offered the woman and her children a drink of water. When my mother brought them the water she said, “I want to know where you’re going every Saturday with these children?” The woman, whose name was Belle Dyer, replied that they were going to church. My mother exclaimed, “Church! Where is there a church on Saturday in Malvern?” Belle replied that it was a Seventh-day Adventist church. My mother said, “My husband has found out in the Bible and believes that Saturday is the Sabbath, but we didn’t know there was a church in Malvern that kept Saturday” (Burton, 2019).

We Need to Start Keeping Saturday

Alvin Burris ca. 1921

My parents belonged to the Church of Christ. My daddy [Alvin Burris], was one of the Reverends in the church and he took turn-about preaching on Sundays. He studied his Bible a lot so he could preach to those people and by studying a lot so carefully, he realized that Saturday was the Sabbath, not Sunday. He started preaching and telling the people in his church, “We’re keeping the wrong day. We need to start keeping Saturday” and he read the scriptures to them. They replied, “No Reverend Burris, you’re wrong.” My daddy told them, “If you can’t accept the true Sabbath, I’m going to resign from being a church member here because I’m not going to keep Sunday anymore. It’s wrong!” For a long time after that people would come to our house and said, “Reverend Burris, please come back to our church,” but he wouldn’t stay a member of a church that was keeping the wrong Sabbath (Burton, 2019).

Tent Meetings

Belle Dyer told people at the Malvern church about our family. At that time, Elder Mattison was the pastor of the Little Rock District, which included the churches of Benton, Bonnerdale, Hot Springs, Little Rock, and Malvern. We went to some of his meetings in Malvern (Record, 1943). [My parents] loved the meetings and accepted [the message]. In 1944, Elder Mattison held Sunday evening tent meetings in Hot Springs following a revival by Elder D. A. Delafield (Record, 1944) and I remember as a kid we drove up to Hot Springs and went to these tent revival meetings and my mother was baptized. My daddy wanted to be baptized but they wouldn’t baptize him unless he quit working at the brickyard because he worked Saturdays. There were three kids at home and my daddy told the church he could not support his family if he quit his job at the brickyard. He said, “There’s no job in Malvern that I could find that would make a living for my children and my wife.” He quoted from 1 Timothy 5:8, saying, “If any provide not for his own . . .he is worse than an infidel” (Burton, 2019). So although Alvin believed the Sabbath, he never stepped out in faith to be baptized. Through his influence, however, many others have joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including his youngest daughter, Melva Sue (Burris) Burton and her family.

Burton Family Joins the Church

Front row left to right: Stephen Winfred Burton and Patricia Lynn Burton, back row left to right: Mrs. Melva Sue Burton and Susan Jane Burton.

On September 24, 1966, four members of the Burton family, Stephen Winfred Burton, Patricia Lynn Burton, Susan Jane Burton, and Mrs. Melva Sue Burton, were baptized in Ten Mile Creek by Elder M. H. Rossier, becoming members of the Malvern SDA Church. Mrs. Burton had become a Seventh-day Adventist a few years before this but she became lax in church attendance and discouragement followed. In 1960, she, with her husband, Winfred, and oldest daughter, Susan, joined a Mormon church. Mrs. Burton relates that this move was against her better judgment, but it was the first time her husband, Winfred, had shown any interest in a church so it seemed best for them at that time. Soon she realized that she couldn’t allow her children to be taught untruths, and each week when they would come home from church, she would explain the right way to them (Rossier, 1966). On December 29, 1990, Winfred was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist church.


Citations

(1943, May 12). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

(1944, Dec. 13). Ibid., p. 3.

Burton, Melva Sue. (2019, Jun. 10). Recorded by Stephen Burton.

Rossier, M. H. (1966, Nov. 12). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.