Entries - Entry Category: Religion - Starting with S

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army of Arkansas has served communities around the state since 1895 with programs such as social services, a youth department, music and arts, disaster relief, and camps. In times of crisis and calm, the Salvation Army has rallied to support the people of Arkansas, exemplifying the motto “Doing the Most Good.” The Salvation Army was founded by Methodist minister William Booth and his wife, Catherine, in London, England, in 1865. William Booth rejected the traditional church setting in favor of communicating the message of Christianity to the people directly. Booth walked through the streets of London preaching the gospel to the homeless, the impoverished, and the hungry. His behavior drew criticism from church leaders in London, resulting in Booth …

Sanders, Ira Eugene

Ira Eugene Sanders became the most well-known and respected rabbi in Arkansas for his indefatigable efforts in promoting social work and civil rights. Ira Sanders was born on May 6, 1894, in Rich Hill, Missouri, one of five children of Daniel and Pauline (Ackerman) Sanders. His father was a wholesale meat packer. When Ira was six years old, his family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he attended public school. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati, possibly in sociology, in 1918; he then obtained a rabbinate degree from the (Reform) Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, in 1919 and was ordained as a rabbi that year. He served as rabbi of Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown, …

Saphore, Edwin Warren

The Right Reverend Edwin Warren Saphore served from 1935 until 1938 as the seventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. In 1917, he became the first elected suffragan (assistant) bishop of the diocese, serving in that position until the retirement of Bishop James R. Winchester in 1931. In the absence of a duly elected and ratified bishop, he served as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese until his election as bishop in 1935. Edwin Warren Saphore was born in Rahway, New Jersey, on September 17, 1854, to Daniel A. Saphore and Martha Warren Saphore. He graduated from South Jersey Institute at Bridgeton, New Jersey, and received a BA from Pennsylvania State College (now the University of Pennsylvania) and an …

Sartain, J. Peter

James Peter Sartain was the sixth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, which encompasses all of the state of Arkansas. Although he was only briefly in Arkansas, Sartain’s reign coincided with great growth: under his watch, the Diocese of Little Rock increased from 90,600 members to 107,000, Hispanic ministry became more focused, and the numbers of seminarians and ordinations rose dramatically. J. Peter Sartain was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 6, 1952, to Joseph and Catherine Sartain; he was the youngest of five and the only boy. Faith was very important to the Sartains, who passed on this influence to their children: one of Sartain’s sisters became a Dominican sister, and three of his sisters have …

Sawyer, Sophia

Sophia Sawyer, an educator whose calling was to teach the Cherokee, founded the Fayetteville Female Seminary in 1839. This tireless educator was associated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church. Sophia Sawyer was born May 4 or 5, 1792, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Little is known of her parents, save for the fact that they were extremely poor farmers who eventually bought a farm in New Hampshire. She never married. Dr. Seth Payson, a Congregational clergyman from Rindge, New Hampshire, took Sawyer into his home as a housemaid after her parents died and sent her to school. Sawyer gained teaching experience in the Payson household, teaching basic education during the summer at Rindge but needed …

Seventh-Day Adventists

The Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) is a Protestant denomination characterized by its observance of the biblical Sabbath (Saturday), its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ, and its fundamental creed, “The Bible, and the Bible alone.” Officially founded in 1863 by Joseph Bates, James White, Ellen G. White, and J. N. Andrews, the SDA Church grew out of the Millerite movement of the mid-1800s. Its founder, William Miller, preached from his farm in Low Hampton, New York, that the second coming (Advent) of Jesus Christ would happen on October 22, 1844. The day passed without incident and became known as the “Great Disappointment.” Many of Miller’s followers disbanded following this, but a small group of Adventists continued their …

Shady Grove Delmar Church and School

The Shady Grove Delmar Church and School is a historic building located near Delmar (Carroll County). The church is about three miles southeast of Osage (Carroll County). Constructed around 1880, the building housed a school until 1945, and a church regularly met in the building until 1969. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 27, 2015. The first settlers in the Osage Valley arrived around 1830. The population grew slowly, and by 1889, Osage included four homes, three stores, and the school. The land on which the church was constructed was donated to the district by Thomas Sisco, the son of an early settler. Sisco owned several businesses in Delmar, including a post office, sawmill, …

Shiloh Meeting Hall

aka: Shiloh Church
Located on the banks of Spring Creek in downtown Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), the historic Shiloh Meeting Hall—formerly called the Shiloh Church and the Odd Fellows Lodge—is one of the oldest buildings in northwestern Arkansas. Built in 1871, it has served as a gathering place for church congregations, fraternal organizations, and civic clubs, and it has hosted many community events. The two-story frame building was a collaborative project of the Shiloh Regular Baptist Church (also known as the Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church), Liberty Missionary Baptist Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Springdale Masonic Lodge No. 316. Land was donated by the Reverend John Holcomb, who was a minister, an elder, and an influential member of the Shiloh …

Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church

The Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1200 Hanger Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), was built in 1919 in the late Gothic Revival style. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 24, 2020. According to Little Rock city directories, the congregation had constructed a building at the southwest corner of 12th and Hanger under the leadership of the Reverend Jack Steele by 1897. Complete with a bell tower in the center of the front façade, the one-and-a-half-story, wood-frame structure served the primarily African-American congregation until 1919. The longest-serving pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church was the Reverend Caleb Darnell (C. D.) Pettaway, who served from 1927 until his death in 1968. At the same …

Shorter College

aka: Bethel Institute
Shorter College in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a two-year institution of higher learning with a liberal arts curriculum that has expanded to include para-professional programs. Founded as Bethel Institute in 1886 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) to educate former slaves and to train teachers, the college occupies three and a half blocks at 600 Locust Street, east of Interstate 30. A thirty-three-member board of trustees, chaired by the bishop of the AME’s Twelfth Episcopal District in Arkansas and Oklahoma, oversees the school. Classes were first held in the basement of Bethel AME Church at 9th and Broadway in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 15, 1886. Rising enrollment led to acquisition in 1888 of a two-story frame building …

Smith, Gerald Lyman Kenneth

Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith was a minister and political agitator who built a series of “Sacred Projects,” tourist attractions with a religious theme, in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) beginning in the 1960s. He attained prominence first in the 1930s as an organizer for Louisiana political boss Huey P. Long but was known more for far-right activism, particularly for anti-Semitic and fascist causes. Gerald L. K. Smith was born on February 7, 1898, on a farm in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, to Lyman Z. Smith and Sarah Smith. He had one sister. He was descended from three generations of Disciples of Christ ministers, earned a degree in biblical studies from Valparaiso University in Indiana in 1918, and became a minister himself, serving churches …

Smith, Hay Watson

Hay Watson Smith, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) Presbyterian minister, was a leading opponent of the movement to outlaw the teaching of biological evolution in Arkansas schools during the 1920s. His liberal viewpoints, both political and theological, brought him into conflict with traditional elements and resulted in charges of heresy by some within the southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS). Hay Smith was born on February 18, 1868, the fifth of seven children, to J. Henry Smith and Mary Kelly Watson Smith in Greensboro, North Carolina. His father was a prominent Presbyterian minister. His brother, Henry Louis Smith, was later president of Davidson College in North Carolina, which Smith attended, graduating in 1890. Smith then entered Union Theological …

Smith, Ocie Lee (O. C.), Jr.

Ocie Lee (O. C.) Smith Jr. started out singing jazz before moving into the genres of country and rhythm & blues/soul. After touring with Count Basie’s band in the early 1960s, he had his biggest hit with the song “Little Green Apples,” which reached number two on the pop and R&B charts in 1968. In the 1980s, he put aside his career as a recording artist to become a minister. Smith was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1996. O. C. Smith was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, on June 21, 1936 (although some sources say 1932). His parents, Ocie Lee Smith Sr. and Ruth Edwards Shorter Smith, who were both teachers, moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) …

St. Agnes Catholic Church

St. Agnes Catholic Church in Mena (Polk County) is the center of worship for St. Agnes Parish, which was established by Bishop Edward Fitzgerald in 1896. A temporary wooden structure first served the congregation, with a two-story frame building following. A new church building was completed in 1922, and St. Agnes Catholic Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, having retained all of its significant architectural and decorative features. Mena was incorporated as a township on September 18, 1896, as settlers began to flood into the area around the Kansas City Southern rail line. Within a month of Mena’s incorporation, Bishop Fitzgerald established the parish, and with the help of Father Patrick Enright of Fayetteville …

St. Andrew’s College

St. Andrew’s College, located near Fort Smith (Sebastian County), was the first attempt to found a Roman Catholic college in Arkansas. It was established in 1849 by Irish native Andrew Byrne, the first bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock. Byrne never had more than ten priests in Arkansas, and he maintained the Church with funds from the Austrian-based Leopoldine society and the French-based Society for the Propagation of the Faith. With this support, Byrne purchased land near Fort Smith to found the first Catholic college in Arkansas. When later incorporated into Fort Smith, the area was known as the “Catholic mile.” It was bordered on the north by Grand Avenue, on the south by Dodson Avenue, and on the east …

St. Bernards Healthcare

St. Bernards Healthcare, based in Jonesboro (Craighead County), was founded by the Olivetan Benedictine sisters at Holy Angels Convent and is the largest employer in northeast Arkansas, with more than 2,200 employees. Its mission remains: “To provide Christ-like care to the community through education, treatment and health services.” Like many contemporary healthcare institutions, St. Bernards was begun in response to a crisis—a malaria fever epidemic that raged throughout northeast Arkansas in 1899. Civic leaders realized that the events of the 1890s had highlighted the need for a hospital, and as the twentieth century dawned, the idea was gaining momentum. A first challenge, and one that would be ongoing throughout the century, was to raise money necessary for a hospital. The …

St. Boniface Colony

aka: New Dixie (Perry County)
The St. Boniface Colony was the informal name for a successful German Catholic immigrant settlement established in 1880 in eastern Perry County. Over time, the colony became known as the community of New Dixie. Beginning in 1880, immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, and other German-speaking countries began arriving in the area near the small village of Dixie, located near the Arkansas River in eastern Perry County. Dixie had been settled in the mid-to-late 1870s and was named after the daughter of Hezekiah Lewis Trundle, a man who owned a large plantation on the banks of the Arkansas River. The Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad (LR&FS) held large swaths of land in Perry County, and although the railway often utilized its …

St. Edward Catholic Church

St. Edward Catholic Church is part of the second Catholic parish to be established in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and is located on the east side of the city. It began to accommodate increased German settlement in Arkansas during the 1870s and 1880s. Its first building was dedicated in August 1885 as St. Edward Catholic Church in honor of the patron saint of Little Rock bishop Edward Fitzgerald. A new building was built in the early 1900s, and there have been several renovations over the years; it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. As more Hispanics moved to central Arkansas in the 1990s, St. Edward attracted these parishioners by giving sermons in Spanish. Growing oppression …

St. John’s Episcopal Church (Camden)

St. John’s Episcopal Church, located in Camden (Ouachita County), was constructed in 1926. The building includes Gothic Revival details and is in the shape of a cross. Added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 24, 2017, the church continues to have an active congregation. The parish was organized on March 6, 1850. Early efforts to purchase a building in which to hold services proved difficult due to a lack of funds, but in 1871, the parish obtained a former school on Adams Street. By 1887, that building was in such poor condition that it was demolished, and a new building began to be constructed on the same site in 1888. Around the late 1910s, the parish purchased …

St. John’s Seminary

St. John’s Seminary opened in 1911 in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on Gaines Street as a wing of the Little Rock College for Boys. In its fifty-six-year run, the seminary produced hundreds of pastors, teachers, chaplains, and priests. The seminary was relocated to North Tyler Street in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights neighborhood in 1916 but was closed in 1967 due to financial constraints and a shortage of trained faculty. Today, the campus is the home of the St. John Catholic Center, housing the administrative offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. St. John’s Seminary was started in September 1911 by Bishop John Baptist Morris, who decided the best way to obtain new priests was to open a seminary …

St. Joseph Colony

St. Joseph Colony, covering land throughout Conway, Faulkner, and Pope counties, served Roman Catholics living along the Arkansas River Valley and the German-speaking Catholic immigrants who later settled these lands. Father Joseph Strub of the Holy Ghost Fathers, a Roman Catholic missionary society, founded the colony in 1878. St. Joseph Colony attracted immigrants to Arkansas until the middle of the 1880s, though the presence of the colony is still felt today. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of Prussian-dominated Germany expelled Strub and other Holy Ghost Fathers in 1873 by means of his anti-Catholic policy, Kulturkampf. The Holy Ghost Fathers fled Germany and crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, Strub learned of railroads offering land in Arkansas for settlement. Strub …

St. Joseph’s Home

aka: St. Joseph Center
St. Joseph’s Home sits on a summit overlooking North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and offers picturesque views of the Arkansas River and Pinnacle Mountain. Since 1910, the home has been a source of refuge for many Arkansans, children and elderly, as well as U.S. Army officers of World War I. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 1976. Now called St. Joseph Center, it is home to a non-profit organization that offers urban farming opportunities. The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, under the directive of Bishop John Baptist Morris, built St. Joseph’s Home. On July 1, 1907, Morris purchased a 720-acre farm, which at the time, was about four miles north of what is now …

St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Helena-West Helena)

St. Mary’s Catholic Church is a Gothic Revival–style building along Columbia Street in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County), designed by renowned architect and designer Charles Eames and his architectural partner Robert Walsh. Charles Eames was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Washington University in St. Louis for a few years before opening an architecture firm with Charles Grey and Walter E. Pauley. After a solo trip to Mexico in 1933, Eames started a new firm with Walsh in St. Louis in 1934. During the 1930s, Eames and Robert Walsh worked on several projects in and around St. Louis as well as two Catholic churches in eastern Arkansas: one in Helena-West Helena and one in Paragould (Greene County). Eames …

St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Paragould)

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Paragould (Greene County) is a brick-and-steel structure designed by renowned architect Charles Eames and his architectural partner Robert Walsh in 1935. Charles Eames was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where he attended Washington University before opening an architecture firm with Charles Grey and Walter E. Pauley. After a solo trip to Mexico in 1933, Eames started a new firm with Robert Walsh in 1934. During the next few years, Eames and Walsh worked on several projects in and around St. Louis, as well as two Catholic churches in eastern Arkansas: one in what is now Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) and one in Paragould. Eames eventually gained an international reputation as an architect and …

St. Mary’s Church (Altus)

aka: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church (Altus)
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, more commonly known as St. Mary’s Church, was founded in Altus (Franklin County) in 1879. It has been located atop Pond Creek Mountain, better known as St. Mary’s Mountain, since its inception. The congregation was founded by and for immigrants from Germany and Switzerland. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 and the Kulturkampf (religious persecution) of the 1870s in Germany drove many Catholics out of Europe and to the Altus region of Arkansas. As these new immigrants did not speak English, there was a conscious effort on the part of the Church to get a German-speaking priest in order to maintain these immigrants in the Catholic faith. After St. Mary’s became established, the fact …

St. Scholastica Monastery

St. Scholastica Monastery, a community of Catholic Benedictine sisters in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), has been a religious presence in the state of Arkansas since its founding in 1879. Their call is not to any specific work but rather to a life of seeking God through common and private prayer, work, leisure, and extending hospitality in service to the needs of the church and civic community. By living that call, they have impacted the lives of many in the state and beyond in education, healthcare, and social service. The sisters’ contribution includes having staffed three girls’ high schools for boarding and day students; conducting elementary schools; operating four hospitals in rural areas; and caring for children in an orphanage in …

St. Vincent Hot Springs

aka: St. Joseph's Mercy Health Center
aka: Mercy Hot Springs
aka: CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs
Founded as St. Joseph’s Infirmary, St. Vincent Hot Springs is the second-oldest hospital in Arkansas, serving the medical needs of Hot Springs (Garland County) and its surrounding communities since 1888. St. Vincent Hot Springs is a 282-bed, acute-care hospital located on Werner Street in Hot Springs. In the 1880s, the Reverend Patrick McGowan, who settled in Hot Springs after retiring, asked Hot Springs physician Dr. J. M. Keller to buy a suitable building and its surrounding property for a hospital. In 1888, Mother Aloysius Burke and Sister Mary Clare, two Sisters of Mercy, came to Hot Springs from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to prepare the thirty-bed hospital, St. Joseph’s Infirmary, for its grand opening. The hospital opened to Hot Spring residents …

State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas

aka: Arkansas State Baptist Association
The State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas (also known as the Arkansas State Baptist Association), an organization representing some 600 Landmark Missionary Baptist Churches in Arkansas, was formed as a result of a dispute that arose in the 1890s among Baptists across the South concerning the nature of the church and the role of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in local congregational affairs. Many Baptists, especially the followers the Landmark principles set down by James R. Graves and James M. Pendleton earlier in the century, came to see the convention system, with its expanding system of boards and commissions, as a threat to local church impendence. Led by clergymen such as William A. Clark and Ben M. Bogard, …

Stevenson, William

William Stevenson was a nineteenth-century preacher generally credited with bringing Methodism to Arkansas. A prototypical frontier preacher and circuit rider, he moved from frontier region to frontier region—from the South Carolina frontier to Tennessee, from there to Missouri, and from there to Arkansas—until he finally settled in Louisiana. Swept into the enthusiastic Methodism of the Second Great Awakening, he felt a desire to spread the faith that led him into sparsely settled areas. In doing so, he laid the foundations of the Methodist faith in Arkansas. William Stevenson was born on October 4, 1768, in a frontier area of South Carolina, not far from the line marking Cherokee land. His parents, James Stevenson and Elizabeth Stevenson, were Presbyterian, and he was …

Stout, William C.

The clergyman William Cummins Stout was the master of two large antebellum plantations at the foot of Petit Jean Mountain in Conway County and the “first Arkansas man ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church in Arkansas,” according to church records. William Stout was born in Greene County, Tennessee, on February 18, 1824. His parents, John G. Stout and Mary Kirby Stout, moved with their children to Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1830, where they continued their farming occupation. While a young man working in a store near the Indian Territory line, Stout attended meetings conducted by Bishop Leonidas Polk and discerned a religious calling. With Polk’s encouragement, Stout received his education at Kemper College in Missouri, then Nashotah House …

Subiaco Abbey and Academy

Subiaco Abbey and Academy, a Benedictine monastery and college-prep boarding school, began as St. Benedict’s Colony, established in 1877. St. Benedict’s Colony provided for the settlement of German-speaking immigrants in western Arkansas and laid the groundwork for the Subiaco Academy and Subiaco Abbey, both founded in 1891. The academy and abbey evolved over the last 100 years into the present Subiaco Abbey and Academy, located on extensive farmland in Logan County. By 1877, Abbot Martin Marty of St. Meinrad’s Abbey in southern Indiana was pursuing his dream of establishing a Benedictine mission on the western frontier. After hearing of the desire for a German Catholic colony in Arkansas, Marty contacted the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad in order to …