West Helena Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of West Helena, Arkansas

The Work Begins

Bible Readings was first published in 1888.

On March 20, 1893, two colporteurs, C. M. Brimer and Mr. McDonald, arrived in Helena and began canvassing in the Helena area with the book Bible Readings for the Home Circle. Within three months they had orders for over 1,000 books. One family who had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists before this, began keeping the Sabbath and made plans to attend the upcoming camp meeting in Clarksville, over 200 miles away. Two black Baptist preachers and their families also began keeping the Sabbath (Brimer, 1893).

West Helena Church Organized in 1961

The Helena congregation began as a group of twelve in 1956. Sabbath keepers met in Dollie and J. C. Lunsford’s home to worship. Others who began meeting with them were Monte and Millie Jones, who sacrificed and worked to make sure there would soon be a church building where the members could meet. In December 1960, it was voted to buy one-and-a-quarter acres where the Helena members could build a church (Minutes, 1960). Adele Bromberger, who played the piano, joined the group, adding music to their worship experience. She also brought flowers for the church every week. West Helena was organized as a church on October 14, 1961, with twenty-eight charter members, under the leadership of Elder V. O. Schneider (Record, 1997).

A few of the charter members thirty-five years later. L to R: V. O. Schneider, Myrtle Schneider, Montie Jones, Mrs. J. C. Lunsford, Gary Lunsford, J. C. Lunsford, and Geraldine Bynum. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

One Pastor’s Dream

In 2001, Pastor Clarence Hoag came with a dream of a radio station so the gospel could go to the community and soon station KIHW (Keeping in His Word) was launched (Hoag, 2013b). “KIHW-LP (104.1 FM) is a radio station licensed to serve West Helena, Arkansas. The station is owned by Hope Radio. It airs a Christian radio format deriving a portion of its programming from Radio 74 Internationale. On April 4, 2008, the FCC granted KIHW-LP a construction permit to change broadcast frequency from 97.7 to 104.1 MHz with a slight increase in effective radiated power to 24.31 watts. The station was granted a license to cover this change on March 13, 2009” (Wikipedia, 2018). Pastor Hoag passed away in 2010, but the radio station he had dreamed of continues to be a light in the community (Hoag, 2013a).

West Helena Church Dedicated

The West Helena church was dedicated on April 21, 1973 (Kostenko, 1973).

West Helena church on West Highway 49 in West Helena, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Elder Stephen Orian.

Citations

(1960, Dec. 12). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1997, Jan. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 10.

Brimer, C. M. (1893, Jun. 6). Review and Herald, p. 365.

Hoag, Betty Latimer. (2013a, May 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 16.

Ibid. (2013b, Jul. 1). p. 17.

Kostenko, P. A. (1973, Feb. 10). Ibid., p. 6.

Wikipedia. (2018, Mar. 1). KIHW-LP. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org.