Searcy Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Searcy, Arkansas

Searcy Church Organized in 1894

As early as 1894, both canvassers and ministers had labored around Searcy, and a church was organized. However, in 1902, J. A. Lyles of West Point, Arkansas, offered letters of transfer to the absent members from Searcy. The members had all scattered and the Searcy church had become one of the past (Lyles, 1902).

Searcy Church Reorganized in 1905

Elder Urbanus E. Bender

Mr. Lyles canvassed in the Searcy area and in May 1905, Elder Urbanus Bender dedicated a church building that had been built by Mr. Lewis and J. W. Patty, and deeded to the Arkansas Conference Association. Elder Bender then reorganized the Searcy Church with only six members, although some others were expected to show up later (Bender, 1905).

Searcy Church Reorganized in 1911

In January 1911, Elder Leslie Littell traveled to Searcy where he reorganized a church. He stated that there was a Sabbath-school of thirty members meeting each week (Hopkins, 1911).

Searcy Church Reorganized in 1976

Three charter members who kept meeting faithfully throughout the years, from left: Zillars Turk, Gretchen Evans, and Mamie Boggs. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

By 1960, the church membership was too small to support a church and it was voted to disband the Searcy church (Minutes, 1960b). It was also voted to sell the building and deposit the money with the conference until they needed it again (Minutes, 1960a). In 1961, the Boggs, Evans, and Cooper families were living in Searcy. They met regularly to study the Sabbath school lesson, and monthly the pastor, Elder Green, and Mr. Ashton met with them (Green, 1961). At the end of 1975 the conference was making plans to enter this dark county* and try to build up a church again. On February 1, 1976, Elder B. Page Haskell’s Adventures in Faith visitation took him into the Searcy area. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Harrison, dedicated laymen from California, asked whether there was territory in which they could labor. Earlier they had helped establish a company in Morrilton. Visiting with Elder W. H. Elder, conference president, the Harrisons were asked to locate in Searcy to develop any interests they could find, in preparation for a crusade in July. The Harrisons arrived in Searcy on Monday, March 1, and had a meeting of believers the very first Sabbath. A church building was located and rented with option to buy. Plans were laid to organize the group into a church and the decision was made to buy the church building. Sabbath, May 1, 1976, two months following the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, a church with a charter membership of twenty-three was organized. This included five souls baptized and three received on profession of faith (Bell, 1976).

A New Church

In 2002, a prime property was donated to the Searcy church for a new church facility (Newsletter, 2002). On Sunday, March 30, 2003, about forty members and friends of the Searcy church gathered on the grass at West Beebe Capps Expressway to break ground on the church’s building project. Flags marking the future church grounds were planted in front of the place the group was currently worshiping, which was a converted home donated by Searcy members. Blueprints were hung on the wall of the fellowship hall detailing the 8,000-square-foot brick building that would house a sanctuary, four classrooms, nursery, bathrooms, kitchen, fellowship hall, pastor’s study, and library. Several helped turn the first shovels of dirt where construction would soon begin (Record, 2003).

Pictured L to R: Gary Cloyes, Ron Fagan, Paul Harmon, former pastor Marc Lien, current pastor Ryan Long, Gretchen Evans, former pastors Clarence Hoag and Laurie DeWitt, conference president Stephen Orian, and Mike Hitt (Record, 2003).
Searcy church on West Beebe Capps Expressway in Searcy, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Google Maps, 2018.

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

Citations

(1960a, May, 17). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1960b, Dec. 6). Ibid.

(2002, Jul. 1). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 15.

(2003, Jun. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 14.

Bell, Rex. (1976, Jun. 26). Ibid., p. 12.

Bender, Urbanus. (1905, May 9). Ibid., p. 1.

Green, George. (1961, Oct. 4). Ibid., p. 4.

Littell, Leslie. (1911, Mar. 21). Ibid., p. 3.

Lyles, J. A. (1902, Nov. 17). Ibid., p. 2.