Greene County Arkansas
Centennial Edition Section 1
14--Section 1, Centennial Edition Paragould Daily Press, Monday, August 29,1983
|First United Methodist: February 1883
The First United Methodist Church celebrates its 100th year in Paragould this year. The congregation occupied its present building at 404 W. Main St. on Nov. 21, 1926. It currently has 987 members, and the Rev. James D. Keith is pastor.
In February 1883, the Rev. F. E. Taylor, pastor of the Greensboro circuit in the Jonesboro district, came to Paragould and preached in an unfinished store building on the south side of West Main Street. According to Dr. F. M. Scott, this was the beginning of Methodism in Paragould. The minister continued his visits twice a month to the new and growing town of Paragould, conducting his services in a small boxed building on West Emerson Street where the Capitol Theatre is now located. In the summer of 1883 he formally organized the First Methodist Church with 13 members.
On Aug. 18, 1883, W. S. Pruett deeded to the church a lot on which a building was immediately erected. The congregation soon occupied the building, even though it would not be finished until the following winter. It was a frame structure and stood on the southwest corner of West Emerson and Second Streets, facing north, where the First National Bank parking lot is now located.
The congregation rapidly outgrew the original frame structure and in 1893 a new location was secured at the corner of Third and Emerson Streets and an elegant brick structure was begun, un the pastorate of the Rev. John C. Ritter. Lots for the new enterprise were contributed by H. S. Trice and M. H. Glasscock. At the end of the year, Ritter retired because of poor health. He was succeeded by the Rev. Z. T. Bennett, under who leadership the new church was completed.
Under the ministry of J. B. Evans (1923-1926) the present building was erected at Fourth and Main Streets. The lot was contributed by Sarah Wyse Cook. She also gave the church the parsonage property at 330 W. Main St. The cost of the new church, including the $10,000 pipe organ, was $125,000. Members of the building committee were R. W. Meriwether, chairman, C. A. Mack, H. S. Trice, Louis Linke and L. U. Stedman. The new church was first occupied in November 1926. The formal laying of the cornerstone of the new church was on April 17, 1931. Church membership had grown from 13 members to more than 800 during the first 50 years.
During the Depression, the church was padlocked and turned over to the bond holders when the members were unable to make payment. Minutes of Oct. 23, 1935, note, "After turning the keys of our church over to the receiver, appointed by the court at the request of the bond holders, we have accepted the offer of the First Christian Church to use their building temporarily." The temporary move lasted seven months. The church property was redeemed from the bond holders and the building was reoccupied during the week of May 5-9, with regular services held on Mother's Day, May 10, 1936.
During the devastating flood of February, 1937, 565 refugees from the St. Francis and Little River bottoms area were housed in all parts of the church building, except the sanctuary. In November of that year, the church bell from the old Methodist Church off Court Square was sent in, melted and recast into the new bell, which today hangs in the bell tower over the chapel area.
Air conditioning came to First Methodist Church in 1954 when the sanctuary units were installed at a cost of about $10,000. The quarterly conference report of Oct. 27 said, "During the weeks following, when the heat was so extreme, our attendance increased one-third of that during the same period last year. We believe this has been a very favorable project for the church."
On July 24, 1976 at a called session of the Charge Conference, a proposal was presented by the church building committee. On Feb. 26, 1978 ground was broken for the addition of the fellowship hall, kitchen and chapel to the existing church building. Total cost of the addition was approximately $475,000.
Finishing touches to the new building were completed in June, 1979 and the service on consecration was Aug. 12, 1979. On July 13, 1980 the church organist was honored with "Wirta Potter Day," commemorating 50 years of Christian dedication and service to the church. Among the tributes given was the naming of the new chapel, "The Wirta Potter Chapel." She is still the church organist.
|Caption: St. Mary's Catholic Church photograph above right:
St. Mary's Catholic Church, school and convent, probably about 1892.
The congregation has had two churches, this frame building dating
from about 1890 and the present brick structure built in 1936, and
three schools, this frame one built about a year after the church, a
stone one built in 1906 and the present brick building. The convent
pictured here was built about 1890 by the Olivetan Benedictine
Photo courtesy: The Diocese of Little Rock
Article: St. Mary's Catholic: December 1883
St. Mary's Catholic Church also celebrates its 100th
year in Paragould. The church was organized in December 1883 by
Monsignor John Eugene Weibel. Since there was no church Paragould,
the first mass was celebrated in the Commercial Hotel.
|Caption: Center Hill First Baptist photograph below right: This
building is thought to be the Center Hill Baptist Church that was
destroyed by tornado in 1947.
Article: Center Hill First Baptist: September 1883
Center Hill First Baptist Church, celebrating 100
years in existence this year, began on September 16, 1883 with the
Rev. Ed Cooper as the pastor.
Page 15 Section 1
Transcribed from the 1983 Centennial Edition by : PR Massey
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