History of Congregation

HISTORY OF CONGREGATION

Floyd Brands wrote the following history of the Prairie Grove church based on information obtained from interviewing past members, reviewing church records and his own personal observations. We are grateful to Floyd for his efforts so that we might have a greater appreciation for those who were instrumental in the development and growth of our congregation. Floyd first wrote his findings in September 2005, and he revised and updated them in 2007, 2008 and 2009 as he obtained more information.

A Brief History (Story) of the Prairie Grove Church

The Prairie Grove Church of Christ is a New Testament church, built on the principles found in the word of God, having no Creed but Christ and no Discipline other than the Word of God. This congregation is not a part of any Denominational body or organization, but identifies with the Brotherhood of Believers in Christ who have no earthly headquarters. Its members are simply Christians and members of Christ’s Church.

It all began in April of 1936, when a Springdale congregation sponsored a Tent meeting on South Neal Street. Later that same year, in July, a Fayetteville congregation, now known as the Center and Locust congregation, sponsored a ten day series of meetings in what is now Mock Park. Herbert Hooker was the evangelist. At the close of these meetings, three families united and began regular meetings in the local Library, which was located in the American Legion Hut. These families consisted of Edward Broyles and wife Mildred with infant son Berry, John Reinold and wife Ollie, and a brother Estes and wife. Later that year Robert McKnight and wife moved to Prairie Grove and joined this group.

While meeting in the American Legion Hut they paid $1.50 monthly for electricity. In the winter, heat was from an open fireplace with the church supplying the wood.

Preachers were sponsored by the Fayetteville congregation when possible. Some who preached during this time were: Bobby Barnett, George Broyles, D.B. Herbard, Eugene Henderson, and C.E. Johnson.

From this humble beginning came our present congregation. In 1948 a lot was purchased at 309 E. Parks Street and a foundation was poured. Construction of the building was delayed until 1952, when the men of the congregation decided the time had come. With the help of donated labor and materials and some cash from neighboring congregations a frame building was constructed. The first services were held in the building on December 7, 1952. Attendance now averaged twenty. Among those attending were the Jack McClelland and Virgil Bradley Families. (Jack McClelland was the father of our sister Pat Morelock and Virgil Bradley was the father of our sister Mary Thomas.) This building was located on the North-West corner of our present parking lot.

(An interesting story is told that, during construction, when the time came to run the electric wiring, that some of the men complained that it was too difficult for them to crawl through the attic and crawl space, so Jack McClelland enlisted his son, Eddie, who was a young lad at the time, to come and crawl through the small areas. This gives Eddie the distinction of being the youngest member of the construction crew. Most everybody knows Eddie, Pat’s brother, (the local Barber).

Roe Meader was preaching when they moved into the new building and was present when the first Elders and Deacons were appointed. Elders: Edward Broyles and Jack McClelland —-Deacons: Virgil Bradley, Robert N. McKnight and Orvil Sisemore. Roe Meader’s ministry continued until 1956.

Others who preached, following Roe Meader, were Guy M. Couch 1957-1958, Ray King 1958-1962. Others who preached for short periods from 1962-1968 were Jack Cole, Lynn Turner, Ed Spurlock, and Dean Parish. Oris Salyer preached from 1968-1974. John R. Dockery began his ministry in 1975 and ministered until 1986.

Attendance had now reached into the sixties. A couple of interesting observations from old bulletins and accounts during this period. A Bulletin dated September 7, 1969 showed an attendance of 102 (?) with a collection of $156.07. A financial report for the month of April 1974 showed a monthly income of $773.84.

With a vision to the future additional lots were acquired on Parks and Pittman streets.

With continued growth the need for additional space was evident and in 1978, money was raised through a Bonding program and the present brick facilities were constructed at a cost of $174,468.00. (This did not include the cost of paving the parking lot or moving the surplus buildings from the property). This building was occupied November 25, 1979. A membership profile prepared for the Bonding program shows the following. 1976: Church members 51, Families Represented 30, Avg. Attendance 73, Proposed budget $18,200.00, Receipts of $21,616.00. 1977: Church members 60, Families represented 33, Avg. Attendance 79, proposed budget $26,000.00, Receipts of $25,768.00. 1978: Church members 70, Families represented 42, Avg. Attendance 86, proposed budget $28,600.00, Receipts of $33,225.00. 1979 (17 wks): Church members 72, Families represented 42, Avg. Attendance 93, Proposed budget $41,600.00, Receipts of $15,261 (17 wks). 1979 Net Assets $62,340.00. The Bonding program was for fifteen years and was paid in full in thirteen years. The congregation became debt free in January 1992.

Following J. R. Dockery, Leon Glenn ministered from 1986-1991. He was followed by Bill Hooten from 1991-2001. Flavel R. Yeakley, Jr. served as an interim minister from November 2001 to June 2001. Charles Jackson began his ministry in June 2003 and served until December 31, 2006. Craig Laird began his ministry in March 2007. He served until December 31, 2007. David L. Pratt began his ministry in January 2008.

Still with a vision (dream) for the future the house and lot just south of the property was purchased in 1998 and in 2001 the next adjacent house and lot was purchased. The two house and lots were purchased at a cost of approximately $125,000.00. The last payment on this indebtedness was made on July 22, 2005, just seven years after the original purchase. The congregation was again debt free, with net assets (unaudited) now of $612,418.00 There is now ample room for building expansion and parking as the need arises.

The congregational records for the year 2006 indicate approximately 100 members, representing some 54 families. Sunday AM attendance averaged 90 with a weekly offering averaging $1743.00. The records for 2007 show an average Sunday AM attendance of 111 representing some 57 families with a contribution averaging $2020.00 weekly.

Much has been accomplished. With a vision (dream) for the future, these can be exciting times when we as followers of Christ, trusting in Him, are willing to do and go and be far more than we ever think we can do, go or be.

As the year 2007 began, we were in the planning stage of building a Family Life Center or Multi Purpose building next to the existing facilities. This will give some much needed class room space, a larger kitchen area and a much larger fellowship area and Multi use area. Plans are about finalized and Lord willing we will have the facilities under construction and ready for occupancy in early 2008.

(Construction began in September 2007. Building completed and occupied in May 2008.)

This congregation began in 1936. It spent about 16 years meeting in the American Legion Hut. It then build its first meeting house and spent about 27 years meeting in it. It then built these present brick facilities and we have been meeting in this building 28 years. The added facilities were occupied in May 2008 and are proving to be a great asset to the church.

Let us continue to strive to fulfill our Mission, “To serve our Lord and this community to the glory of God.”