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The History Of Second Baptist Church
In June of 1909, a Sunday School was organized in south, ElDorado by L.L.DeCou and George W. Mason. The school , supported by the First Baptist Church, grew with Brother DeCou running the school for two yrs. After meetings in various vacant buildings and anywhere they could, Brother DeCou went back to his home in Canada and the school closed for lack of a meeting place. The group acquired two lots on South Washington, through the untiring efforts of the ladies of the community. In March 1922,Brother DeCou returned to ElDorado with his love for the work still alive. About a yr. before Brother DeCou returned,Brother Mason had rented the lots to a furniture company ,who put up a tent and wood floor. About the last of April,1922, the company sold the tent and floor to Mason and Decou for $50.00. Brother DeCou and Brother Mason ,went to work and opened a Sunday School again on the first Sunday in May,1922.
On Sunday, January 7, 1923, a meeting was held for the purpose of organizing a Second Baptist Church. The meeting was held in the chapel of Southside Baptist Church. Rev. T.D.Brown accepted letters from nine members. Rev. Alex McPherson(1923-1924) was voted to be pastor for the first and third Sundays each month at $50.00 a month. The Second Baptist Church of ElDorado was born. When the First Baptist Church started their building program, the old building was given to the new church and was moved to the lot by L.L. DeCou's Model-T touring car.
June 7,1925, McPherson resigned to accept the pastorate of Second Baptist at Conway and Rev.Guthrey from the Caledonia Church was chosen to fill the pulpit until a new pastor was called. After Rev. McPherson's leadership, Rev.J.M.Gibbs(1925-1931) took over the pastorate on August 1,1925. The church was given a pipe organ, as a gift from the First Baptist Church, Feb.9,1927. During Rev. Gibbs' tenure, an educational building was erected at the rear of the auditorium. This was built in 1928.He was a very forceful pastor and during his tenure ,the church voted to have a every member canvess and solicit a weekly offering for the support of the church.On Sept. 30,1928, Bro. Gibbs heard of some dissatisfaction in the church and offered his resignation but the church took a vote and it was unanimous that he stay.Then again in Nov.1928,Bro Gibbs stated there was discord due to the attitude of three people towards him. He put the matter before the church to handle. Bro Gibbs gave full details naming Bro Herring and Bro and Sister Hill and a committee was sent to visit them and it was unable to reconcile. The next business meeting, a motion was made and seconded that all who opposed Bro Gibbs stand and only three stood. The remainder endorsed Bro. Gibbs. Then the motion was made and seconded to withdraw fellowship from Bro and Sister Hill and Bro.Herring and it carried. Bro Gibbs stayed on until some discord arose again in the church regarding his ministry and he resigned Sept. 6,1931. On Sept. 10,1931, the whole Deacon board, tendered their resignations since they said that their recomendations were ignored by the church concerning Bro. Gibbs. The deacons resignations were voted on and rejected.The church budget that year was $248.87. In November that year, the church voted to buy 100 songbooks for $45.00 a hundred.
The next pastor to serve Second Baptist was the Rev. Hiram Geren(1931-1941), with W.E.Jackson as associate pastor. In August 1933 a committee was appointed to call on indifferent members and report at the next meeting.At the next meeting that motion was tabled. At the meeting they voted to buy Bro. Geren a new automobile.The auditorium could not hold the overflow crowds who came to hear Bro. Geren, and in 1934, it had to be enlarged, and a new wing added on the north side. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Geren that the church became known as "the friendly church," with a membership of over 1,940.Due to failing health, Bro. Geren resigned affective January 1,1942. On Nov. 5,1941, the church adopted a resolution of respect to Bro. Geren.
On December 16,1941, Rev.Clyde Hart was called as pastor, to take office on January 1,1942. Rev.W.E. Jackson was elected associate pastor, and in the following months, discord again arose in the church. The motion was made for Bro. Hart to resign and another motion made to appoint a committee to settle disagreements between Hart and Jackson.In 1942, they decided that to split was the best possible solution. The church divided into two groups.The Hart group got the parsonage and the Jackson group got the building,lots and fixtures and they halved the folding chairs,cane chairs and songbooks. The Hart group got the piano. The Jacksons retained the name of Second Baptist Church.The Clyde Hart group became known as Immanuel Baptist Church. Any money that had been given to the building fund was refunded to the person who gave it.
Rev. Leroy Smith(1942-1945) was called as pastor on August 14,1942, and during his term, the church voted to move from South Washington to 1010 Combs. The new building project was begun. In July 1943, Bro. Smith was under a doctors care and needed rest. The church approved a leave of absence from the pulpit. In 1944, lots were purchased for a new church building between Combs,Mt.Holly,Murphy and Yocum Streets. The church was moved from South Washington to Combs. On June 11,1946, Brother Smith resigned to accept the pastorate of Temple Baptist in Ruston, La. The Rev. James Carroll(1946-1947) was called as pastor on July 7,1946.He resigned Oct.19, 1947 to go to California. Rev. Jesse S. Reed(1948-1953) assumed the pastorate on March 1,1948, and on March 28( Easter Sunday) the church held a ground breaking service for the new building.On May 15,1949, they laid the cornerstone for the new church.
The Second Baptist Church moved from South Washington to the new building, at 1010 Combs, on March 12, 1950. Only the educational wings and the basement of the church was completed. Worship services were held in the basement until the auditorium was built in 1958.
When the church moved, 167 of it's membership remained at the location on South Washington to form the Second Baptist Mission, which later became the Southside Baptist Church. In Jan, 1953 the church observed the 30th anniversary.
During the six yrs. of Rev Reed's pastorate, 796 members were added to the church. On May 17,1953, the highest attendance in Training Union was reached. The church reached it's highest membership during his second year, a total of 1,946. At this time, the church was the sixth largest church in the state. Brother Reed resigned as pastor, effective May 1,1954 to accept the postion of director of State Missions of the Arkansas Baptist Convention. Rev. Wayne Smith served as interim pastor while the church looked for another pastor.
Rev. D.Wade Armstrong(1954-1956) was called as pastor September 8,1954, one month after he had conducted a revival at the church. Dr. Armstrongs pastorate bought many firsts. Some were ,a nursery superviser was employed at $1.25 per hr., dates set for Christmas dinners, to be held each yr., church hostess was employed at $25.00 per week, the church adopted the largest budget in it's history,and all church employees, who desired, were placed on social security. The church entered into fund raising for constructing additional education space and a auditorium. The offices, nurseries and lower auditorium where the worship was being held, were air conditioned. New office equipment, unsurpassed by that of any church in the city, was purchased. A kindergarten at the church under the leadership of Miss Dot Lyle( now Mrs. Sam Shepperson)was sponsored. The membership rolls were completely revamped and corrected.The church voted to build the current auditorium after much dissention from with in the membership.Dr. Armstrong received his Doctor of Theology on May 26,1955. To receive this requires not less than nine years of study and research. Dr. Armstrong resigned on Feb.26,1957 and moved to California. The Rev. Lehman Webb(1957-1963) came from Harrison to hold a revival meeting in March ,and in April, the church called him as pastor and he assumed the pastorial duties on July 23,1957.In July 1957, the work actually began on the new auditorium. March 1958 was the first service held in the new auditorium. Dedication services for the new auditorium, music room,offices and the new Baldwin Organ, bought with the Geren Memorial fund receipts, were held June 8,1958 during Rev. Webb's pastorate. In April 1960, a anonymous friend, gave the church a complete set of chimes, microphones and speakers. They were used a few yrs and then were discontinued because of complaints about the loud noise. October 1960 bought the first edition of the Hearld. There was also stained glass windows put over the the entrance to the Sanctuary, that was donated by the Douthitt's in memory of their son,Charles and daughter Rebecca, who were killed in a car wreck. This was in March 1962.
On January 6,1963, the church had it's 40th anniversary celebration.Brother Reed gave the morning message. A feature of the evening service was a audio-visual presentation of greetings from former pastors. Taped greetings were heard from pastors Gibbs,Reed,Hart,Carroll and Mrs. Geren in behalf of herself and Brother Geren. They projected pictures to make the greetings more personal. There were pictures on display in the foyer representing various phases in church history. A guest register was also in the foyer At this time, Brother Webb was pastor, Herbert Trull was minister of music,Jack Cowling was education director, Irene Hatchett was secretary and C.E. Dollarhide was custodian. Brother Webb submitted his resignation on Jan.16, 1964, effective, Feb.15, to accept the pastorate of First Baptist, Hot Springs, Ar. Dr. Ralph Phelps, served as interim until Tom Bray was called.
Rev. Thomas Bray(1964-1969) served as pastor beginning July 22,1964. In 1965, the church purchased three lots across the street for a parking lot. In Jan. 1965, Bro. Bray announced plans for a shrubbery memorial fund, where shrubs around the church could be given in memory of a loved one. In Feb. 1965 the church constructed a entrance ramp and new curbs and gutters along the east side.In 1966 upon the death of David Moore a memorial fund was established and used to buy new pew cushions in 1967. On Dec.6, 1967, the church remodeled the kitchen. In the 6th yr of Bro. Brays pastorate, dissention arose and he submitted his resignation Aug.23,1970. Dr. Elrod served as interim.