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Community of Christ celebrates 105 years

September 9, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
The Community of Christ church is located on Airport Road (Highway 70 west) at the Majestic Lodge Road intersection.

The Community of Christ church, located on Airport Road (Highway 70 west) at the Majestic Lodge Road intersection, will celebrate its 105th birthday on Sept. 17 with a Homecoming worship service followed by a potluck luncheon.

The Community of Christ is a Christian faith group with World Church Headquarters in Independence, Missouri, according to a news release from the church.

The story of the Hot Springs Congregation of Community of Christ began with one family, J.C. and Dora Sanders.

"They left their home in Tennessee in 1887 traveling by covered wagon with their four children to Texas where two more children were born to the family 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 was baptized into the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called Community of Christ. In 1902, the Sanders family moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas and started farming. Dora was a midwife and delivered many children in the community," the release said.

"Soon after arriving in Hot Springs the Sanders family started sharing the Gospel story and inviting people into their home where they held Sunday school services. They also invited 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. On September 10, 1918, Apostle J.F. Curtis formally organized the members into a congregation. T. A. Donathan served as the first pastor," it said.

"In 1921, a small frame church was built on Highway 70 west near Arvest Bank. Services were held there until the church burned in 1925. A new building was built in 1928 at the corner of what is now Airport and Majestic Lodge Roads. Elder W.H. Hampton served as pastor during this time. In the 1950s, the church building was modernized by digging a well, adding restrooms, and adding a large room in the back for more Sunday school space. Two additional lots were purchased behind 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 in Independence, Missouri, to dedicate the new building," the release said.

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ changed its name in 2001 to Community of Christ. "The name more fully expresses the mission of the church. We strive to promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. Here in Hot Springs, we do that by supporting local charities and programs that seek to help people in need. From Habitat for Humanity to the Lake Hamilton Parent Center to the Charitable Christian Clinic, our Outreach Program supports many wonderful ministries in Garland County," the release said.

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