Umpire Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Umpire, Arkansas

The Work Begins

In 1911, Elder V. B. Watts held meetings at Umpire “with good interest” (Record, 1911a). Also that year, three colporteurs, Henry Fant, Hersel Butka, and Carl Pannell, worked in Umpire (Record, 1911b; Record, 1911c). Later, as Elder Watts traveled throughout the conference visiting churches and communities, Umpire was part of his circuit (Norwood, 1911).

One Boy’s Story

Peter Bragg at his ordination in 1969 (Reaper, 1969)

Nothing more was heard about Umpire until 1947, when Elder A. W. Perrine, who was then Texarkana district leader, visited the public school at Umpire, handing out Bible correspondence course enrollment cards to the students. One child took his card home and gave it to an older brother who immediately sent in for the lessons. The young man, Peter Bragg*, was then sixteen years of age. He studied his lessons faithfully. Peter completed two courses of the 20th Century Bible Course, and another Bible study course. Later he heard Elder Perrine preach one sermon, then he began attending the little Sabbath school held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Keith. Mrs. Keith wrote saying that the boy was baptized at the age of seventeen, then moved from Umpire locating about twenty miles away. Soon after moving from Umpire, Peter wanted to continue his study of this message, so the boy walked back to Umpire, wading a river up to his waist in very cold water. The following Sunday, Peter walked back the twenty miles through the snow. After two years, he began working at Dierks, Arkansas. According to a letter from Mrs. Keith, he was trying to earn enough money to attend Ozark Academy the next year. She also reported that two weeks before, he caught a ride from Dierks, which is fifteen miles from Umpire, to meet with them again for Sabbath services, walking back all the way, the next day (Record, 1949).

Evangelism and Baptisms

In 1948, Elder A. W. Perrine held a short evangelistic effort at Umpire where a number of individuals were definitely interested in preparing for baptism (Wells, 1948a). After the meetings, Elder Perrine sent a letter to Elder Wells, the conference president, telling him of his success in De Queen and the vicinity, particularly at the town of Umpire, where sixteen took their stand to be baptized. One of these individuals’ first tithe was more than $500 (Wells, 1948b). Laymen from De Queen continued the work at Umpire in 1948 and 1949. Converts joined the De Queen church. Then for several years, a little group began meeting in a community church in Burg.

A New Church in 1972

In 1971, the Umpire company of the De Queen district, celebrated the groundbreaking for a new church. The church was a thirty-two foot by fifty foot, with a brick veneer structure. It had a seating capacity of approximately ninety people. The inside was paneled and carpeted and had a built-in fiberglass baptistry. Labor was donated by the members of the De Queen, Mena, and Umpire churches. The church is located on a beautiful tract of land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Strasnor in the heart of Umpire, with three roads trisecting in front of the building (Thurmon, 1972).

Groundbreaking for the Umpire church—left to right: Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Lambeth, Mrs. Inez Monasco, James E. Thurmon, Mrs. Bessie Strasner and child, Elder P. I. Nosworthy, Mr. Travis Strasner, Mrs. Leona Chadwick and children, Mrs. Jessie Pendergrass and Tammy, and Mr. Gordon Pendergrass and Travis. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.
The nearly completed Umpire church in 1973. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

The Umpire Church Organized in 1973

The Umpire Church was organized with thirteen members on May 19, 1973, by Elders Sherrill and Nosworthy, and M. D. McIntosh (Sherrill, 1973).

Group present for the organization of the Umpire church. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Shirley and Peter Bragg in 1991 (Record, 1992)

*Peter Bragg pastored for many years, including in the Arkansas-Louisiana conference from 1976-1988. He completed his Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University about 1990 and returned to pastor in Arkansas-Louisiana in 1992 (Record, 1992) Peter died October 18, 2016, in Springdale, Arkansas.

Citations

(1911a, Apr. 11). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

(1911b, Jul. 18). Ibid., p. 4.

(1911c, Aug. 1). Ibid., p. 5.

(1949, Jun. 29). Ibid., pp. 2, 3.

(1969, Jul. 11). Central Union Reaper, p. 1.

(1992, Jan. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 13.

Norwood, J. W. (1911, Apr. 18). Ibid., p. 2.

Sherrill, E. Frank (1973, Jun. 23). Ibid., p. 11.

Thurmon, James E. (1972, Feb. 12). Ibid., p. 6.

Wells, Frank D. (1948a, May 5). Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid. (1948b, May 19). p. 2.