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story.lead_photo.caption Submitted photo ORIGINAL BUILDING: Members of the early 1920s Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called Community of Christ, gathered in front of their church, which burned in 1925.

The Community of Christ church, located on the corner of Airport and Majestic Lodge roads, will celebrate its 100th birthday Sunday. The theme will be "How Great Our Foundation."


The Community of Christ is a Christian faith group with more than 250,000 members in 50 countries around the world. The World Church Headquarters is located in Independence, Mo. Special guest Stephen Veazey, president of the World Church, will bring the message at the 11 a.m. Sunday service.

The story of the Hot Springs congregation of Community of Christ began with one family, J.C. and Eudora Sanders. They left their home in Tennessee in 1887 traveling by covered wagon with their four children. They traveled to Texas and had two more children there. Traveling on to Arkansas they made their home in Muddy Fork, a community between Dierks and Murfreesboro. The family heard the Gospel story there in Muddy Fork and were baptized as members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called Community of Christ. In 1902, the Sanders family moved to Hot Springs and started sharing the Gospel story and welcoming people into their home where they held Sunday school services. The Sanders welcomed missionaries of the church to come and preach to their small group. The church grew as more families moved into the area and others were baptized. In 1918, Apostle J.F. Curtis organized the members into a branch (congregation). T.A. Donathan served as the first pastor.

In 1921, members built a small frame church on Highway 70 west, where it is now located, and services were held there until the church burned in 1925. A new building was built in 1928. Elder W.H. Hampton served as pastor during this time. In the 1950s, the church building was updated by digging a well, adding restrooms and adding a large room in the back for more Sunday school space. Two additional lots were purchased in back of the church for future expansion.

In 1966, the Hot Springs congregation broke ground on their third church to be located behind the second one. Elder O.J. Smith was the pastor. The building was completed by Christmas and the first service was held there on Christmas Day. The mortgage was paid off in 1977 and President W. Wallace Smith and his wife came from the World Church Headquarters to dedicate the new building.

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ changed its name in 2001 to the Community of Christ. The name more fully expresses the mission of the church, which states: "We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love and peace." Here in Hot Springs, members do that by supporting local charities and programs that seek to help people in need, from Garland County Habitat for Humanity to the Lake Hamilton Parent Center to the Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic.

Religion on 09/29/2018

Print Headline: Community of Christ celebrates 100 years

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