Chapter 4 - Slicer Street Church of Christ

September 1941 to August 1956
With the departure of the first full-time, on-location minister, the church seemed to struggle
to find a replacement. What happened over the next few years was a series of successive,
short- tenured preachers.
On April 18, 1941, within a few weeks of
Brannam’s departure, the church advertised a
series of meetings covering eight nights. It was
held at the building and featured a different
speaker each night. A dinner was held on
Sunday and a singing was conducted in the
Quinton Gateley filled the pulpit first, according
to the May 16 issue of the Democrat. On May
30 it was announced that “Paul Rudder, 11 years
Quinton Gateley
old, who was reared near Kennett” would speak
at the next service. Everyone was invited to attend “and hear a boy
preacher.” Lafayette Sexton delivered the sermons for the June 15
service, as the church met at 10 and 11, with an 11:45 communion
service and a 7:45 singing and study. No preacher was listed in the
notation of June 20.2
Paul Rudder at 11
Church related notices in the paper included the April 1, 1941 notice that G. H.
Brannam of Hollywood was buried following a service at the Hollywood Church of Christ.
B. G. Hope of Paragould did the service. The T. H. James and A. A. Miller families
traveled to Rector to attend the funeral of Mrs. Christian A. Lyles, as noted on April 15,
Church records indicate that the church paid Quinton Gately $5 in April and $6 in
May. Others paid in April included Linder Filders (25), Elza Huffard (3), Denton Neal (5),
C. W. Thompson (3), and B. G. Hope (5). In May the church contributed $25 to the Malden
church. In August the church paid Brother Taylor Davis $100 for preaching, C. W. Brannam
$25, and Brother Brickell $25. The janitors for the year included Tommie James and Mrs.
Finally, some regularity came in September of 1941.3
Norvell J. Brickell (1941-1943)
Readers were encouraged to attend the Church of Christ in the
Dunklin Democrat of September 19, 1941. Services were at 10, 11,
and 8 on Sunday, with an additional mid-week study scheduled for 8
on Wednesday. Norvell J. Brickell was listed as the church’s
minister.4 He repeated this invitation on September 26.
He provided some additional information on October 10 of 1941.
Norvell Brickell
The Church of Christ regards the Bible alone as a source of
authority in matters of religion. We endeavor to speak
where it speaks and be silent where it is silent. If you
believe in the all-sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, want to
worship God just as he directs, and have no desire to add to
or take away from the Will of the Lord, then come and be
with us in the following services:
The times are the same, with an addition of a 2:30 Ladies Bible Study on Wednesday.
Brickell ended all his announcements with “Come let us reason together.”
A simple notation appeared on October 24, October 31, November 7, November 14,
November 18 and December 19. On December 5 he added the title of his morning sermon,
“Modern Attitudes,” and reminded readers of the radio program on KLCN at 2:30 on
The newspaper and various civic groups began to have a stress on people going to church.
The goal was to have every Kennett citizen in church on the last Sunday of the year. In
preparation, emphasis was placed on attendance the final quarter of the year. The November
4, 1941 paper headlined that 998 people were in church in Kennett on Sunday, with 181 of
them attending the church of Christ. It was reported that 1028 people attended Kennett
churches on November 16,with 172 attending the church of Christ.
The January 23, 1942 issue of the Democrat noted that Brickell conducted the funeral of a
man named John L. Walls, father of Mrs. Lyman Nations of Kennett. He then announced a
series of lectures at the church in April of 1942. He took the Sunday lecture on “The
August 19, 1941: John Brinn held 10 day meeting at Cardwell and then at Arbyrd.
Brickell was paid twice in September, $50 each time. Thereafter he was simply paid
$100 a month.
Church, Yesterday and Today.”
Monday, April 13: Boyd Morgan of Manila, AR on “The
Church and Its Preaching and Teaching.”
Tuesday, April 14: Oscar L. Hayes of Blytheville speaking on
“the Church in Its Song Service.”
Wednesday, April 15: Clyde Hance of Leachville, AR on “The
Church in Its Financial Support.”
Boyd Morgan
Thursday, April 16: Alstone Tabor of Jonesboro, AR on “The
Church in Its Financial Support.”
Friday, April 17: Riley Henry of Walnut Ridge on “The
Church in Its Praying.”
Saturday featured F. L. Paisley of Paragould on “The Church in
Its Leadership.”
F. L. Paisley
Alstone Tabor
Clyde Hance
Riley Henry
Brother Brickell ended the meeting with two sermons the following Sunday on “Christ and
What He Means to Us.” It closed out with all day services of singing and a “basket lunch.”5
The June 12 issue included an invitation to the church’s services. Brickell recorded worship
times as well as a general overview of the church’s beliefs:
The church records indicate a $30 payout for “week meeting.”
We believe in the all-sufficiency of the Bible. The following is some reasons why we
should study it:
The Bible is not the word of man, but God–2 Peter 1:20
It is the power of God to save–Rom. 1:16
It is light–Psalms 119:130
It cleanses from sin–John 15:3
It converts–Psalm 19:7
It sacrifices–John 17:17
Above all, man cannot reject nor neglect God’s word and go to heaven–
Mt. 7:21; Heb. 2:3
Yes, there is sufficient reason for studying the Bible. Will you come and study it with
About a month later the church announced another
meeting, this time with Leonard H. Fielder. Brickell
announced it as running from July 5 to July 19, 1942. H.
H. Bodine was to be the song director. The June 30 issue
ran a significant picture of Fielder as an advertisement.
Services began at 8:15 each evening. The ad and picture
were run again on July 3. On July 10 the meeting was
described as continuing “to gain momentum.”
The attendance is good, enthusiasm high, and all
things seem conducive to the preaching of the
Gospel. Each evening Brother Fielder, in his
characteristic style, vividly displays the Word of
God in all of its power. There is nothing
characteristic of these Gospel services intended to
appeal to the masses other than simple gospel
singing, the reading of the scriptures, and an
earnest presentation of Bible truths.
Thursday–Three Great Religions of the Bible
Friday–The Gospel Armor
Saturday–The Way that is Right and Can Not Be Wrong
Sunday Morning–Walking with God
Sunday Evening–The Church, its Unity
Monday–Are We Living in the Days of Miracles?
Tuesday–Will God Hear and Answer a Sinner’s Prayer?
Wednesday–Once Saved, Always Saved
Thursday–What Constitutes Scriptural Baptism
Brickell issued an invitation to attend the meeting and also to tune in to KLNC in Blytheville
on Monday the 13th at 12:15 to hear Brother Fielder preach the Word. The next Sunday
Fielder would also speak at the Newcom Church of Christ.6
The audience was growing so large, Brickell published on July 17, 1942, that they moved the
services into the church yard.
Brother Fielder is doing a splendid job of preaching the Gospel. The singing is
being ably conducted by Brother H. H. Bodine. Good audiences and great interest
have characterized the meeting thus far. The four remaining sermons will deal with
the Church of our Lord. Friday evening Brother Fielder will speak on “Peculiarities
of the Church of Christ.” In this sermon he will suggest why we are a Peculiar
People, differing from our religious friends, yet not differing from the Bible. “Some
Facts About the New Testament Church” will be the subject Saturday night. Sunday
morning will find Brother Fielder speaking on “Why a Member of the Church of
Christ.” The concluding sermon will be “The Church; Its Identity.”
The August 7, 1942 issue of the Democrat included an invitation from Norvell J. Brickell to
attend the services at the Church of Christ. They met Sunday at 10 and 11 in the morning
and 8:15 in the evening. The 8:15 time was also the Wednesday meeting time and this
particular week they were studying 2 Corinthians 13.
In the locals of August 7 an interesting note appears. C. W. Brannam visited in Kennett the
preceding Monday. He was then a resident in Flint, Michigan and was conducting meetings
at Blytheville and Nimmons.
Another interesting item appeared in the September 8 newspaper. The churches were asked
to commit to making Kennett a cleaner and safer place to live. Churches had their members
actually sign a pledge and the following were listed under the Church of Christ:
H. H. Bodine
Marie Welker
Maud Beaver
Mrs. V. L. Nations
Mrs. J. D. Burrow
George Brice
Mrs. Melvin Russell
Daily Wyatt
Edna Alexander
Mrs. O. C. Sparks
Inez Mosley
John O. Braswell
Martha Matthews
Mrs. C. E. Seeger
L. V. Thomason
Mannie Brice
Mrs. W. A. Hastings
Martin Kimzey
W. E. Sexton
Auvenal Rudder
Nadine Reeves
Mrs. Fannie Welker
Mabel Hastings
A. A. Gaultney
Mrs. L. V. Thomason
Melvin Russell
J. D. Burrow
Delora Harper
O. C. Sparks
Mrs. M. R. Kimzey
The September 25 invitation included a description of Brickell’s lesson for the next Sunday.
The church recorded a payment of $100 to Bro. Fielder for the meeting in July.
“Beware of Covetousness” was his lesson for the morning. He made reference to the
atmosphere of the times as well.
During these days that “try men’s souls” we all recognize the need for spiritual
guidance. Come and seek such guidance with us as we together study the Word of
The final notice for 1942 appeared on October 16. Brickell simply noted church assembly
times and mentioned that Ephesians 2 would be studied Wednesday night at 8:15.7
The January 22, 1943 issue of the Democrat contained the first reference to the church for
that year. Brickell listed the location and the meeting times for the church. On Sunday night
preaching was at 8 after a thirty minute singing practice. A week later the same information
was posted. He did the same on February 5 with the additional
note that “For the next few Sundays our preaching services will be
concerned with a detailed study of the Church.” After this, the
church all but disappears from the newspaper for the year.8
In the locals of April 6, 1943 it was mentioned that Mrs. Norvell
Brickell returned the previous Sunday from Jonesboro, where she
visited with her husband. He was recovering from an illness of
several weeks. She was accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Charles
R. Izard, of Forrest City, AR. Mrs. Brickell was then a teacher in
the Gregory School. The July 20 issue listed Mrs. Brickell as the George Benson
music teacher there.9
The church records fill a little bit of the gap at the end of 1942. Truman Smith,
Clarence Welker, and E. D. Poe received money from the church, the latter being paid three
times in October. William Young was helped from the treasury due to a fire in November.
A building fund was begun in October. This is the last indication of Brickell’s involvement
with the church. He went on to become a significant instructor for Dale Carnegie courses,
even taking ownership of the Midwest franchise of Carnegie in Memphis.
Robert Terry received three payments from the church in January 1943 and the
preacher was given money for flowers. Brickell was paid through July, but in August, three
people were paid for preaching: Brother Blasiname, Bro. Neal, and Bro. Sexton. Hayti was
sent $25 in September and Bro. Blasingame was paid for preaching again. A Brother
Watson was paid for September, October, and November and M. L. Sexton was paid again
for October.
The church paid a “Victory Tax” in 1943, somewhere around $3 a month. A
payment of 9.10 was sent in May for the first quarter, and a payment of 3.75 was sent in
during July. These are the only payments recorded for this tax. Howard Coldwell was paid
Other news of interest to the churches in the area appeared in 1943, however. The
Baccalaureate services for the Cardwell graduating class was held on May 16. The speaker
was George H. Benson, president of Harding College. He was described as an outstanding
speaker and his sermon “was one of the best heard here in a long time.”
The Arbyrd church had some leadership during this time. M. L. Sexton became their
minister, preaching there every first and third Sunday. In the June 4 issue of the Democat,
he announced his topics for the next Sunday as “The Preacher and His Message” and “Let
Us Examine Ourselves.” On July 16, he announced the lessons for the coming Sunday to be
“Giving a Reason” and “Paul’s Farewell.” On July 30 he noted his coming lessons to be
“How Should a Christian Use Music in the Worship?” and “The Power of Influence.”
At Cardwell it was noted on July 30 in 1943 that Denton M. Neal
was in a meeting at Antioch. In the December 24 paper, a wedding
was conducted at the home of the preacher in Campbell. The
preacher’s name was Emmett Smith.
Sterl Watson
Finally, after a long silence concerning the church in Kennett, the
December 3 paper advertised a meeting.10 The ten day meeting
began December 5 and ran from that Sunday to the following
Tuesday, each evening at 7:30. Sterl A. Watson of Jonesboro, AR
was the evangelist. Song services were under the direction of H.
H. Bodine. At the end of the advertisement, the location was
mentioned as “Fourth and Hopper Street.”
“What Think Ye of Christ?”
“King of Kings”
“What is Man?”
“What God’s Word Does”
“The Mission of Faith”
“Mission of the Spirit”
“A Good Man, Lost”
“Spiritual Disease”
“Things Pertaining to the Kingdom”
$45 a month for June and July.
It is recorded that Brother Watson was paid $100 for the meeting. He is likely the
same “Brother Watson” paid for preaching in September and October. He is later said to
have been involved in local work in Kennett, which may be at this time. He was born near
Romance, MO. According to Arkansas Christians, he was an itinerant preacher until he
took a full-time position in Springfield in 1941. His best work was with the West End
congregation in St. Louis, where he served during two stints.
“The Name of Christ”
The year 1944 began a period of very little activity concerning the
church, at least as far as publicity in the newspaper went. On
February 11 it was announced that Donald Gardner of Marmaduke
would preach on “Man’s Love for God” on Sunday morning and
“Success” on Sunday night at 7:15. On March 10 it was advertised
that Donald Gardner would return again on the next Sunday with
subjects of “What Am I Worth to the Church?” and “The Eternal
Home of the Soul.”11
After a period of silence, a meeting announcement appeared in the
August 4 issue of the Democrat.
Don Gardner
A gospel meeting is in progress at the Church of Christ on
Fourth and Slicer streets, as announced by Daly Wyatt.
Singing is being conducted by Bro. Kennett Fagan and the
preaching by Evangelist Joe H. Blue of Salem, Ark.
Services begin each evening at 8:30 o’clock by
congregational singing.
All ministers are invited to attend each service and bring
their neighbors and friends and hear Gospel truths
discussed in a Bible way. ‘We will speak where the Bible
speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent and call
things by Bible names.’12
Joe Blue
That was all the information provided by the newspaper ads of
Church records show that Brother Gardner was paid $20 in February and March;
$50 in April and May; and $25 in June and September. They show a Brother Watson being
paid in February and a Brother McCartney in March. The radio work continued throughout
the year at a cost of $5 a month. In June of 1944 Brother McCord was paid two times for a
total of $40 and M. L. Sexton was paid $25 in June and December. Brother Martin was paid
$100 in both November and December. A baptistry was installed (or repaired?) in July at a
cost of $467.55. A building fund was begun in September
Brother Blue was paid $150 for the meeting and Brother Fagan was paid $50 for the
There was a special speaker at the Cardwell Church of Christ in November of 1944.
Elder William D. Holdsworth of Philadelphia, who was a student at Freed Hardeman
The year 1945, at least when using the newspaper as a resource, reveals only one thing about
the activities of the church. There was a funeral at Senath, described in the July 17 issue,
that was preached by H. S. Jones of Campbell, Fred Killebrew of Senath, and John Brinn of
Kentucky. A revival meeting was held in August at Cardwell with T. Watson of Hot
Springs, Arkansas. Later in the year Fred Killebrew conducted another funeral in Senath.14
The Kennett church listed no weekly advertisements at all. But they
did host a meeting in July. The ad invited people to hear
“Evangelist Joe H. Blue of Salem, Ark. On a Series of Gospel
Sermons.” The song service was conducted by H. H. Bodine. The
dates were from July 15 to July 29 at 8 p.m. each evening.
Robert F. Lawyer15(1946-1948)
It seemed that 1946 was going to go the
same way as 1945, at least for the first four Bob Lawyer
months. Church records indicate a singing
school in January, conducted by Brother Smith. The average
attendance was a healthy 120. In March the church contributed
one hundred dollars to the building of a colored church in Hayti,
with Brother Dockery being in charge of that. By the end of April
the average attendance had climbed to well over 140.
In May there was a notice in the newspaper--the first in a long
Bob and Vera Lawyer time-- acknowledging the service times and inviting all to attend.
College, was going to preach the next Sunday.
Church records indicate a payment to “Brother Martin” in January and February,
and a “Brother Roper” from February through May. “Brother Sexton” was paid in May. H.
H. Bodine was paid $75 for singing and Brother Blue was paid $200 for preaching. A
“Brother Hull” was paid in August as the last payment to a person (assuming these are for
the preaching of the church).
The November 4 issue of the 1947 Democrat had a detailed bio on Robert Lawyer.
At that time he was stepping down from preaching and was taking the secretary position
with the Chamber of Commerce. He was manager of the H & L Jewelry Store. He arrived
in Kennett in April 1946. He was manager at a jewelry store in Poplar Bluff and assistant
cashier of the State Bank there before coming to Kennett. He was born in Bismarck, ND in
1918. He moved to Boonville in 1926 and then attended Harding College in Searcy. He
began as a ministry student but changed to commercial studies. He went to Poplar Bluff
from Searcy. He lived at 201 Emerson Street and had three sons when coming to Kennett.
At the time of the article his sons were 5, 4, and 2.
By early June it was advertised that Robert F. Lawyer was speaking at the worship services.
In the June 7 issue, he spoke on “The Misunderstood Christ.” Evening services were at 7:15
on Sunday and the Wednesday prayer meeting was at 7:30.16 The lessons mentioned in the
June 14 issue included “Who is the Son of Man?” and “Words.” June 21 listed “The Real
Authority in Religion” and “The Safe Side” as the lessons. Included this time was a new
“Young People’s Training Class” for Sunday evenings at 6:15. Then on June 28, J. D.
Burrow was to fill the pulpit and the church times were listed.
By the July 5 issue in 1946, Lawyer had returned. He was to speak on “The Church” and
“The Organization of the Church.” It appears that the church
began to take on some life at this time, for they met for reasons
other than worship. A report appeared in the July 12 issue as
Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Burrow were host to a group of
young people from the Church of Christ at their home at
303 E. Washington, Monday night. Dinner was served
on the large back lawn and games were directed by
Robert F. Lawyer and Marvin Howell, following which
Mrs. Burrow and Mrs. Lawyer served watermelon to the
The J. D. Burrows
Those attending were: G. B. Richey, Dale Grissom, Eula Mae Richey, Lurlyne
Richardson, Frances Eades, Dorothy Reeves, Wilma Wyatt, May Ruth Eades, Nancy
Dale Taylor, Kathleen Reagan, Jerry Taylor, Dennis Burrow, Donald James, Avis
James, Venida Reagan, Jo Ann Bass, Merideth Fagan, Juanity Pruett, Jerris Bass,
David Bass, Sonny Pruett, Bobbie Nell Brown, Shirley Ann Burrow and Richard and
David Lawyer.
On July 19 Lawyer was to speak on “The Sin of Indifference” and “God’s Two Institutions.”
C. W. Brannam’s presence was again felt in the area as he held a meeting at the Cardwell
Church of Christ. He followed that with a meeting at the Antioch church. Carl North was
the song leader. Brannam was preaching in Columbus, Mississippi at this time.
Immediately at the close of that meeting, he came to Kennett to hold another. This meeting
was widely advertised in the newspaper. Lawyer stressed the desire of the church for
everyone to attend. The ads featured a picture of a seated Brannam with a Bible open in
front of him. It ran from July 21 and lasted for a week with services being at 7:45 each
night. In Kennett, H. H. Bodine was the song leader. On July 25, 1946 he advertised his
Church records indicate that Robert Lawyer was paid $50 in April and $100 each
month after that. Also, the church sent $10 in July of 1946 to the church in Hastings,
Nebraska. The church supported this effort on a monthly basis.
topic to be “The Second Coming of Christ” and the
following night’s was to be “The Sabbath.”17 The
meeting continued the second week, though Robert
Lawyer spoke on the Sunday in between. The twelve
day meeting closed on Thursday, August 5. The
responses included twelve baptisms and two
restorations. Brannam then went home for a weekend
before holding another meeting in Black Oak, AR.
Two other meetings were held in the area at that time.
M. L. Sexton, from Millport, Alabama, spoke at Bark
Camp with John Eads leading the singing. This
meeting began August 6, 1946. The Church of Christ
in Hollywood began a meeting on July 31 with
William Hull. A little later in August, Senath held a
meeting with J. E. Choate of Nashville.
The August 9, 1946 issue listed the lessons for Sunday as being “Some Hard Words of
Jesus” and “A Great Cloud of Witnesses.” For August 16's press the lessons were “Things
That Help the Cause of Christ” and “Paul Before Felix.” The following Tuesday issue
noted in the locals that Sexton and Lawyer both attended a preachers meeting in Rector,
Arkansas. In the same listing, several of the church members traveled to a singing at the
Hollywood Church of Christ the previous Sunday. For August 23 one topic was listed:
“Things that Help the Cause of Christ.” It was the first in a series with that title that
continued through the listing on September 6. That listing also included the lesson, “The
Work of the Holy Spirit.” The ads were kept consistent with the additional note that KLCN
had a daily broadcast at 12:15 for those interested.
John Jarrett
On October 1, 1946 it was reported that John W. Jarrett, minister of the
church at Humboldt, TN, had filled the pulpit in the absence of the regular
minister. He spoke on “The Christian Life” and “The Great Physician.”18
Lawyer was called “the regular minister for the Kennett Church” in the
Democrat of October 4, 1946. The broadcast at 12:15 was noted again,
adding that E. W. Stovall of Blytheville was the preacher for that program.
The weekly ad continued to be published throughout 1946 with the
meeting times listed clearly.
Brannam received $200 for this meeting and Bodine $75. The cost of Brannam’s
room in the Westgate hotel was $28. The cost for advertising in the Democrat was $15.46.
His breakfast charge at Dalton’s café was $9.10.
Brother Jarrett was paid $30 for his preaching.
The November 19 newspaper had an item of local interest concerning James E. Laird. He
had by this time returned to the area, preaching at the Church of Christ at Campbell. The
same locals included a note that Virgil Lawyer, a teacher at Harding College in Searcy had
visited his brother Robert over the weekend.
An event which in hindsight was a foreshadowing took place as noted in the November 22
newspaper. The heading was “Discussion of Church Schools and Orphans Home” and
appeared on page 3 under “Senath News.”
A general discussion on church schools, colleges, and orphans homes was held at
the Church of Christ here on Tuesday night. The audience, coming from points over
Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas, filled the church to capacity. Speakers
for the occasion were Fred Killebrew, minister of the Church of Christ in Senath and
James E. Laird, minister of the Church of Christ in Campbell.
Among the ministers who attended the meeting were Martin R. Kimsey of St. Louis,
E. W. Stovall of Blytheville, J. Woody Stovall of Manila, Thomas L. Connor of
Leachville, John Brinn of Dell, Marshall Conner of Luxora, Walter Costner of
Leachville and Robert F. Lawyer and J. D. Burrow of Kennett.
Later in the same issue the Kennett church included their own notice. It added others from
Kennett who attended. They included: Mr. and Mrs. Daly Wyatt, Mr. and Mrs. Robert F.
Lawyer, Elman Meritt, Marvin Howell, Dennis Burrow, Melvin Russell, W. E. Sexton, Mr.
and Mrs. J. D. Burrow, Shirley Ann Burrow, Mrs. Mae Tuberville, Mrs. L. V. Thomason,
Mrs. Emma Green, Mr. and Mrs. Ira Marcer, Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Bodine, and Mr. and Mrs.
George Brice.
J. D. Bales
On November 26, 1946 the church started advertising for a
lectureship including several visiting preachers. The theme of the
program was “The Work of the Church” and all the speeches
concerned the purpose and function of the church. Robert F.
Lawyer kicked it off with two Sunday sermons. His titles were
“New Testament Giving or Old Testament Tithes” and “Is the New
Testament Church on Earth Today?” James D. Bales, “professor of
religion and religious psychology at Harding College” and published
author was the first guest speaker with the title “Teaching Through
Tracts.” The others were as follows:
Oscar L. Hayes of Paragould
“The Purpose of the Church”
(formerly of Blytheville and on radio)
C. W. Brannam of Columbus, MS
“Some Needs of the Church
E. W. Stovall of Blytheville
“The Church of Tomorrow”
B. G. Hope of Lawrenceburg, TN
“A Generation of Vipers”
James E. Laird of Campbell/Wardell “Personal Evangelism”
Oscar Hayes
E. W. Stovall
B. G. Hope
Each session began at 7:30. Joe Blue of
Salem, MS, well known minister of the
church, was present for these sessions
and also spoke the following Monday,
Tuesday, and Wednesday sessions. B. G.
Hope also spoke at the Kiwanis meeting
on Friday evening at the Dalton Cafe on
“Return to Religion.”19 An ad about the
C. W. Brannam
meeting, which appeared on December 3, James Laird
1946, featured a picture of James D. Bales.20
It was reported in the December 24, 1946 issue that the young people of the church had
conducted the evening worship the Sunday before. Dennis Burrow, Billy Griffin, and
William Branch made talks on “Worship of the Church,” “Grace,” and “John 1:1.” Singing
An overview of his comments were included in the paper of December 10: “The
speaker gave a survey of current social, economic, and political problems and stressed the
need for a return to Christianity and the principles of democracy in establishing a peaceful
nation and world.”
For the lectures, Bales received $25, Stovall $20, Brannam $30, Blue $25, Hope
$30, Laird $15, and Hayes $15. There was a total of $8.16 spent on flyers and $9.44 on
was done in a chorus, directed by Robert Lawyer and the general song service was conducted
by G. B. Richey, Jr. Harold Sexton and Harold Clinton Richey also had part in the service.
So 1946 seems to have been a pivotal year in getting the church built up. By the end of the
year attendance was a healthy average of 155.
As 1947 began, there was an active church at Slicer Street. On
January 7 it was noted that Virgil Lawyer, Robert’s brother, visited
the previous weekend and spoke at the Sunday evening service. In
the same paper it was noted that the “regular monthly singing
convention of the Churches of Christ in the Southeast MissouriNortheast Arkansas area was held at Wardell” the previous Sunday
afternoon. Those who attended from Kennett included the Wyatts,
Robert Lawyer, Melvin Russell, Virgil Lawyer, Marvin Howell,
the Burrows, Carroll Eads, Russell Webb, the Richies, Mrs. Dale
Grissom, and G. B. Richie, Jr.
Virgil Lawyer
The weekly notices of the church service times continued to appear in each Friday issue. On
January 10 it was noticed that Lawyer spoke at the Kiwanis club meeting at Dalton’s Café.
He spoke on “Unpossessed Possessions.” They described him as the minister but also a
“manager of the H and L Jewelry Store.”21 Then in the January 24 paper it was announced
that Lawyer had been elected president of the Delta Alumni Association. This group was an
association of alumni and ex-students from Harding from within ten counties of the area.
The church had a couple of news items on January 31, 1947. There was a special singing
service held at the church and from the February 4 issue we learn that 200 people attended.
Also, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Burrow held a party for the church youth. The evening consisted of
games and stunts followed by song practice directed by Robert Lawyer. Those in attendance
were: Elmo White, Venida Regan, Avis James, Ophelia Richardson, Jerris Bass, Billy
Griffin, Donald Branch, William Branch, Rebecca Griffin, Juanita Pruitt, Wilma Wyatt, Bob
Richardson, Eula Faye Richardson, Eula Mae Grissom, Valeria Richardson, Shirley Ann
Burrow, and Dennis Burrow.
There was a news item concerning the Campbell church in the February 14 paper (more fully
advertised in the March 4 issue). Robert Lawyer was to be one of eight lecture speakers for
their special lectureship. James E. Laird was the preacher there. Other speakers were
Charles L. Houser of Fulton, KY (“What Constitutes New Testament Worship?”); Trine
Starnes of Paducah, KY (“Preparing Our Hearts for the Worship”); E. W. McMillan of
Memphis (“Worshiping God in Prayer”); Joe Spaulding of Fayetteville, AR (“Reverence in
the Worship”); Charles R. Brewer of St. Louis (“The Measure of the Worship”); Buckey
Bozarth of Henderson, TN (“How Do I Know That I Am Right?”); and James Laird.
Brother Lawyer was paid $100 a month for his preaching throughout 1947.
Another singing took place at the Caruthersville church in March. The March 4, 1947 paper
listed those who attended from Kennett as: the Lawyers, the George Brices, The Daly
Wyatts, J. D. Burrow, John Eads, G. B. Richey, W. E. Sexton, Mrs. Grover Branch and sons,
Shirley Ann Burrow, and Wilma Wyatt.
In April 7, 1947 the reader was told that Virgil Lawyer and Miss Lou Dugger of Harding
were visiting in Kennett once again. Virgil spoke at the evening services. During the
afternoon there was a singing practice in Wardell. From Kennett, the ones who attended
were: Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James, the Walter Pruitts, Mrs. V. L. Nations, the V. M.
Blankinships, the H. H. Bodines, Robert Lawyer, the Grover Branchs, the J. D. Burrows,
Marvin Howell, and the E. P. Swinks.
An interesting news item appeared in the April 29 issue. Four churches in town were
working on new church building projects. The Church of Christ was one of them.
The Kennett Church of Christ, located at Fourth and Slicer, has started a building
fund for a new church building to be erected as soon as funds are available and
construction seems advisable. Elders of the church have found the present building
inadequate with recent increases in attendance and membership, and it has been
necessary to purchase several dozen folding chairs to accommodate attendance at
Sunday services.
The present Church of Christ building was erected in 1919. The site for the new
structure has not been determined as complete plans for the building have not been
completed. A tentative goal for the building fund has been set at $30,000, reports
Robert F. Lawyer, minister, and about $4,000 has been raised.
George Benson
During the month of May the church turned a church event into a
community event with great success. Dr. George S. Benson, president of
Harding College, came to speak. He was described as a well known
lecturer, newspaper columnist, educator, world traveler, and missionary
to China. He discussed “The Secret of American Prosperity” at the noon
meeting of civic clubs. For a high school assembly he addressed “Once
Around the World.” Then, at the church on Friday night he spoke on
“Preaching Christ in Our Generation.” He was pictured in the May 9
issue and an assessment of his presentation was provided in the May 13
issue. It was estimated that he spoke to 850 people. He predicted a
depression by the end of the year, which made the headline. Before he
spoke, a boys quartet sang, which included Bill Nations of Kennett.
The church in Kennett at this time offered fun activities and experienced the normal
challenges that accompany such activities. The June 20, 1947 issue of the Democrat told of
a recent party involving church members. Robert Lawyer gathered a group of young people
at the city park for a hot dog roast, followed by some activities on the church lawn that
evening. They played softball and then played games of “Vaudeville,” “Who’s Who,” “Bird,
Fish, Animal,” and “Noisy Proverb?” Several attended the activities22 and one got injured.
The same newspaper, on the front page, noted the injury.
James Walpole, 11-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Walpole of Kennett, received
a painful back laceration Monday night when he fell from the merry-go-round at the
City Park while attending a Church of Christ weiner roast.
James fell under the merry-go-round and received a deep two-inch cut from a boat
which extended below the seat. He was treated by Dr. Allan Christiancy.
The same newspaper included an interesting note about the church. The church began
collecting supplies for the Southern Christian Home, an orphanage in Morrilton, Arkansas.
The support of the orphanage is a regular activity of the Churches of Christ of this
area, and the truck is sent here each year to pick up food supplies, canned
vegetables, and clothing which the churches collect.
The church chose George Brice to be in charge of the collection and they invited the general
public to help as well. There is a fuller description of the support in the July 22, 1947 paper.
The Kennett Church of Christ last week started a year-round project of support for
the Southern Christian Home, an orphanage in Morrilton, Ark., which will involve
making weekly contributions of supplies for the orphanage.
Under the plan, all members brought one certain item each week–such as canned
fruit, an article of clothing, or an article used in school. The articles will be placed
in a cabinet to be constructed and the supplies will be shipped to the orphanage each
time the cabinet is filled.
In the newspaper of July 4, 1947, a large square ad began appearing which advertised the
area churches of Christ which together supported the daily radio program out of Blytheville.
It also encouraged people to attend one of the congregations. They included Kennett,
Senath, Cardwell, Arbyrd, Antioch, Rives, Beech Corner, Hollywood, Malden, Holcomb,
Carroll Eads, G. B. Richey, Avis James, Bob Richardson, Ophelia Richardson,
Dennis Burrow, Eula Richardson, Rebecca Jean Griffin, Jeris Bass, Sue Steward, Valeria
Richardson, Betty Rogers, Sue Sutton, Frances Eadse, Clarr Ruth Griffin, Mae Ruth Eads,
Shirley Ann Burrow, Donald Branch, Carmelita Reagan, Bob Hancock, Nancy Taylor,
Ernest Sexton, Elmo White, Marvin Howell, Lurlyne Richardson, Eula Mae Grissom,
Harold Clinton Richey, James Walpole, Jerry Taylor, Gerald Edwards, Molly Edwards,
James Edwards, Billy Griffin, Bill Branch, Gary James, and Jimmy Grogan.
Campbell, Bone Camp, Nimmons, Bakerville, Boynton, Bark Camp, and Bragg City. At
the same time, the church of Christ in Senath advertised a meeting with Elder C. P. Roland,
dean of Freed Hardeman College. Howard Miles of Paragould led the singing.
In July the church again attended the monthly singing, this time at Campbell. Those
attending were: Lawyers, Burrows, Wyatts, Brices, Mrs. Bert and Lurlyne, Eula, and Valaria
Richardson, Fagans, G. B. Richeys, Mrs. A. A. Miller, Mrs. Dale Grissom, Bill Nations,
Marvin Howell, Miss Betty Jo Dorris, Carroll Eades, John Eades, Walter Puritts, Billy
Griffin, Arnold Sexton, and Mrs. V. L. Nations. During this same time, C. W. Brannam
held a meeting at the Church of Christ in Cardwell. Also, the Bragg City church had a
meeting with Doyle Williams of the “Lyte, Arkansas” church.
Bakerville continued the meeting immediately after.
For a time, church activity in Kennett disappeared from the
paper.23 Elder Killebrew and W. Carl Ketcherside of University
City visited in Kennett (August 22 issue). W. C. Bunting held a
singing at Bark Camp (September 5 paper). And the Hollywood
Church of Christ bought the old school building to be a meeting
place (September 9). An ad for Kennett service times again
appeared in the October 17 newspaper, along with an obituary
for a funeral Bob Lawyer conducted.
On November 4, 1947 it was noted that Miss Wilma Wyatt had
entertained the young people of the Church of Christ the
Carl Ketcherside
previous Thursday. She had a weiner roast at her house on W.
St. Francis street. Various games were played by the following attendees: Charlotte Lowe,
Donald Branch, Shirley George, Juanita Pruett, Dennis Burrow, Billy Griffin, Jerris Bass,
Eula Faye Richardson, Mrs. Dale Grissom, Finis Caldwell, Jr., Dorothy Reeves, Bobby
Hancock, Carmelita Reagan, Nancy Taylor, Mae Ruth Eades, Sandra James, Carroll J.
Eades, Francis Eades, Gary James, Avis James, Jerry Taylor, Meredith Fagan, Webby
Caldwell, Harold Richey, Valeria Richardson, Rebecca Griffin, Joan Boyt, Shirley Burrow,
Bobby Nell Brown, William Branch, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lawyer and sons, David,
Michael, and Richard.
The final notice for church activity in the newspaper of 1947 involved the Harding Chorus.
Three Dunklin County students were in the chorus conducted by Andy T. Ritchie. Mary Jo
Church records may indicate some activity at this time. Virgil Lawyer was given
$25 for work in Japan. Brother Brannam was paid $200 in August, the same month the
church paid Dalton’s Café and Westgate Hotel. Money was also given to “colored singer for
singing.” In September, several items were listed as being paid for “for colored.” In
December, money was given to Brothers Magness, Riley, Bill Smith, McNutt, Bales, Haytes,
and Bodine.
Summitt and John Summitt were from Cardwell and Bill
Nations was from Kennett. They made two appearances in
Kennett, according to the December 12 issue. They were to
perform at 4 pm on Sunday at the church building and at 10
am at the Armory Gymnasium for the high school assembly.
More than 200 were present at the armory performance, which
the December 16 issue said was on Sunday afternoon. They
also sang before the high school assembly on Monday
morning and before the church on Sunday evening.24
Thomas Conner
Andy T. Ritchie
The Church of Christ did get some
press in early 1948, though it wasn’t positive. The trustees of the
Bone Camp congregation, northwest of Bucoda, filed a petition in
Dunklin County court. The church was requesting Thomas L.
Connor and 10 other people to “be perpetually enjoined and
restrained from the use or possession of the church property to
preach, teach, or propound the doctrines and creeds that would be
in conflict with and contrary to the doctrines and creeds of the
church that were a part of the belief of the members at the time the
title to the church was acquired.” The trustees were named as C.
M. Burcham, G. W. Harmon, and W. W. Smith. The alleged
troublesome teachings denied the resurrection after death, judgment
after death, and that Christ would return to earth. This was in the
paper for a while, but the “end of the story” was not detailed.25
George Toland (1948-1949)
A new name appeared in an obituary in the February 24, 1948 issue of the newspaper.
Funeral services were held for O. K. Mott and the preacher was “G. W. Toland” of the
Church of Christ. He was listed as the preacher in the church announcements beginning on
March 5 of 1948.26 There he listed the times of meeting as:
There is no way to know exactly where and when the chorus performed.
Apparently the details beforehand were incorrect. It is thus assumed that they performed
three times: Sunday afternoon at the armory, Sunday evening at the church, and Monday
morning before the high school assembly.
The story began in the January 13 issue of the Democrat and appeared also in the
April 23 issue.
The locals on March 2 mentioned that the Brannams and their son Dewayne spent a
day in Kennett after speaking at Wardell the night before. On March 12, the paper
mentioned that the church in Cardwell had an attendance of 205 in Sunday School the
Bible study at 10:00 a.m.
Preaching at 10:50 a.m.
Bible Study at 6:30 p.m.
Preaching at 7:40 p.m.
His topics in the first notice included “Fellowship with Christ” and “Pure Religion.”27 He
added that Wednesday Bible study and singing practice was at 7:00 p.m. His topics listed on
March 12 included “Our Evaluation of Life” and “John in Patmos.” He had an additional
note that on Monday afternoon there was to be an organization of teachers training class.
The next week his lessons were “Our Savior’s Lesson on Prayer” and “Christ in the Midst of
the Churches.” The teachers training class was again on Monday and a Ladies Bible class
was added on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30. A week later everything was on again and his
topics were “The Model Church” and “Why We Do Not Use Instrumental Music in
Worship.” On April 12 the entire schedule was again repeated and his topics were “The
Establishment of the Kingdom.” and “I Will Give Unto Thee The Keys Of The Kingdom of
Heaven.” The same was true for a week later, with lessons of “God’s
Example of True Devotion” and “Authority in Religion.”28 April 16 was
another repeat with lessons on “Adding to Faith” and “Living Heroes Of
The Dead Past.” But a new note was added. “Broadcast over KBOA at
8:30 to 9 o’clock a.m. Singing and preaching. Tune in.”
Everything was the same on April 23, 1948 with the topics “The Man
Who Could Say No” and “Can Faith Save Him.” The teacher training
classes were not advertised at this time. April 30 brought the lessons
“Watch Thou in All Things” and “Childishness.” But he added
Rue Porter
On Thursday evening, Bro. Rue Porter, well-known Evangelist of
previous Sunday. On April 2, Vance Greenway, “a minister of the Church of Christ,”
performed a wedding ceremony at 600 St. Francis Street in Kennett. The same paper
mentioned that the Osceola church and Senath church swapped pulpits, with O. C.
Thompson speaking at Osceola and Oscar Hayes speaking at Senath. On April 30, Fred
Killebrew spent time in the hospital. The August 6 paper announced that the Cardwell
church bought property from Shellie Hartsoe to serve as a parsonage. On December 28, the
new preacher for the Cardwell church was announced as Clinton Elliot of Ontario, Canada.
Brother Toland was paid $250 a month throughout 1948.
Despite much effort, little could be learned about George Toland. He was born in
Kentucky in about 1880, lived much of his life around Little Rock, AR. His family was
instrumental in starting the church that is now known as Somers Avenue in Little Rock. He
came to Kennett, left after one year, and then showed up again in Little Rock. In an
appendix to this history is a copy of one of his sermons, “Authority in Religion.”
Neosho, Mo., who is now in a meeting at Steele, Mo., will preach at 8 o’clock; one
night only. Be sure to hear him.
The May 7, 1948 announcement listed the radio lesson as “The Value of the Church.” The
lessons at church were “The Attributes of Love” and “Growing.” A week later his lessons
were “A Righteous Contention” and “Doing the Will of God.” But he added a new activity
to the church calendar.
Special–Registration for Vacation Bible School to be in June will begin today. Be
sure to be present.
On May 21, 1948 he advertised the lessons to be “Binding Things of the Bible” and “The
Uncontrolled Tongue.” He again encouraged people to enroll for Vacation Bible School, but
the date had moved up to May 31. One week later the topics were listed as “An
Unanswered Prayer” and “The Unbridled Tongue.” On June 4 he listed the lessons as “The
Church at Work” and “The Teaching Tongue.” The VBS had to be put on hold due to
“illness of the minister and some of the teachers.” They were hoping to begin on June 14.
On June 11, 1948 the topics were to be “God’s Building” and “Spiritual Childishness.”
Vacation Bible School was to begin the following Monday. The schedule was as follows:
Our Vacation Bible School will begin on Monday morning promptly at 9 o’clock.
Day classes for preschool age up to and including third grade pupils will be from 9
o’clock to 11 o’clock each morning throughout the week.
At 7:30 in the evenings all classes from fourth grade on up through high school and
adult classes will begin and continue each evening to 9 o’clock through the week. Be
sure to plan your work so as to be present at every period.
The next week the lessons were listed as “The Golden Rule” and “Why Jesus Came.” There
was also a VBS update.
Our Vacation Bible School is progressing nicely, with increased interest in
attendance. Members of the church cannot very well afford to fail to attend this
school where it is at all possible to be present.
On June 25, 1948 Toland listed the lessons as “True Worship” and “The New Birth.”
Toland continued to list his lessons for the worship each issue.
July 2
July 9
July 16
July 23
“Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” and “Why Jesus Came”
“The Christian’s Duty” and “Besetting Sins”
“Correct Thinking” and “The Great Commission”
“Why we break bread on the first day of the week” and “A Working
The July 23, 1948 announcement included a change. “Instead of the Wednesday evening
Bible study there will be song practice by the whole church on each Tuesday and Thursday
evening for the next three weeks.”
July 31
“Vessels of Honor” and “Coming Short of the Promise.”
On August 6 there was a different announcement.
At the Eleven o’clock hour Bro. G. H. P. Showalter,
Evangelist of Austin, Tex., and editor and Publisher of the
Firm Foundation, one among our oldest christian papers
and widely read throughout the Brotherhood, will begin a
protracted meeting to continue 10 days or more.
Bro. Showalter is one of our strongest preachers, and
widely known, and every one is cordially invited to hear
him in every lesson. Be SURE to come.
G. H. P. Showalter
This announcement was repeated in the August 13, 1948 issue.
August 20
“When Jesus Comes” and “He Shall Prosper”
The elders were to be in charge of the services for the Sunday advertised in the August 27
issue. This was due to Toland being in a meeting in Palmer, MO.
September 3 “My Church”
September 10 “What Must I Do To Be Saved” (broadcast)
“The Nature of Man” (a.m. sermon)
“Reconciliation” (p.m. sermon)
In this latter announcement, the young people’s meeting was at 7:00 on Sunday evening, as
was the Senior Bible class. This preceded the evening sermon.
September 17
September 24
October 1
October 8
October 15
October 22
October 29
November 5
“The Resurrection of the Dead” and “Transformation of Life”
“The Christian’s Armor” and “Transformation of Life”
“Acceptable Service” and TBA
“Five Fundamentals” and TBA
“A Greater Than Jonas Is Here” and “God and His Word”
“Fair Play” and “The Fruitful Branch”
“The Platform of the Church of Christ” and “The Lord’s Vineyard”
“Spiritual Apathy” and “On the Right Road, But Going in the Wrong
November 12 “Following After Righteousness” and “My Church”
This issue also included a special note.
There will be a social gathering of the young people of the church at the home of the
minister, this Friday, November 12, at 7:30 in the evening.
November 19
November 26
December 3
December 10
“John’s Measuring Reed” and “Life in the Kingdom of God.”
“Faith and Practice” and “The Tragedy of Sin”
“Our Passover” and “The Ark and the Church”
“Why We Break Bread on the First Day of the Week” and
“A Prophet Like Unto Moses”
December 17 “Godliness” and “Conversion of Cornelius”
December 24 “Memories of Jesus” and TBA
December 31 “The Tragedy of Uselessness” and “The Gospel Plan of Salvation”
The year of 1949 came and the announcements continued. In the
January 14 issue there was announced a special series of lectures in
Senath. Jim Mahan, the preacher at Senath, announced the topics,
each to be presented at 7:30 p.m.
January 17
January 18
January 19
January 20
January 21
January 22
“The Churches Infallible Guide” with H. F.
Sharp of Steele, MO
“The Church, Its Beginning” with W. Curtis
Porter of Monette, AR
“The Church, Its Organization” with O. C.
James Mahan
Thompson of Osceola, AR
“The Church, Its Mission” with J. A. McNutt of Paragould, AR
“The Church, Its Problems” with E. W. Stovall of Blytheville, AR
“The Church, Its Destiny” with Clinton Elliott of Cardwell, MO.
As for the Kennett church in 1949, things continued to progress.
January 7
January 14
January 21
“The Mission and Work of the Church” and “the Fall and Rise of
“The Everlasting Gospel” and “What Shall It Profit.”
“Have Faith in God” and TBA
This same issue announced significant changes. First, “owing to other plans by the elders of
the church this will be our last and final broadcast,” referring to the KBOA transmission.
Then came a change in the pulpit.
Preaching at 10:50. This will be our Farewell sermon, after a year of enjoyable
association with bretheren (sic) and friends, we leave for other fields after a few
days vacation.
Toland appeared once more in an announcement on February 18, where it was advertised
that he would speak at Bark Camp the following Sunday.
Rather predictably, the church announcement page in each Friday edition of the paper was
void of news from the Church of Christ. Things concerning the church went silent.
The annual spring conference of the Dunklin County Teachers Association featured a talk by
Dr. George S. Benson of Harding in Searcy. This was reported in the March 25, 1949 issue.
A week earlier it was advertised that the Bone Camp Church of Christ had preaching each
fourth Sunday of the month by Vance Greenway of Paragould, AR. In May, Dr. Jack Wood
Sears of Harding spoke at the baccalaureate for the Cardwell High School.
The silence concerning the Kennett church was broken on May 27,
1949 when a regular ad for the Church of Christ appeared. No one
was listed as the preacher, but service times were listed as 10 and 11
on Sunday morning, 7:30 on Sunday night, and 8:00 on Wednesday.
This ad appeared several times through June and July. The June 10
announcement told of a preacher to be on hand.
Doyle Banta
On the nights of June 14 and 15 at 8:00 pm there will be
preaching by Brother Doyle Banta of
Shawnee, Okla. A special invitation is
offered to you to attend these two
Meetings were held that June by the Senath congregation, with C.
R. Nichols of Clifton, TX and at Cardwell with Andy T. Richie of
Harding in Searcy.
The Kennett church then had a revival, heavily advertised on July
15. It was a ten day meeting with Frank W. Gould, evangelist of
Mt. Vernon, IL. It began the following Monday with the Sunday
before featuring preaching by Bro. Hayden Mahan, from Senath.
Hayden Mahan
Robert F. Lawyer (1949-1950)
Apparently the church succeeded in getting Robert
Lawyer to take the pulpit again. Beginning on
September 2, 1949, his name was listed under the
church name as the minister. He listed his topics that
week as “Three Chapters in the Plan of Salvation” and
“The Conditions of Success.”29
Lawyer’s ads continued and he announced a topic on November 4, 1949 to be “Does God
Hear Sinners’ Prayers?” Also, the evening assembly consisted of congregational singing at
6:45, Bible studies at 7:15, and preaching at 7:45. On December 2 his topic was listed as
“The Lord’s Supper.”
The following year of 1950 was quite uneventful for the church. There were few notices
concerning the church in the newspaper and no church records are extant from that time.
The February 7 newspaper described the funeral of R. C. Holmes and
noted that R. L. Lawyer was the preacher of it. Lawyer provided the
service times on May 26 of 1950, describing his lesson for the next
Sunday as “Love, Courtship, and Marriage.” The evening service
featured the Cardwell chorus singing. The service times were again
advertised on June 9. The only other mention of church activities in
the paper was an advertisement for a Gospel Meeting from August
20 to August 30 with Frank W. Gould of Pocahontas, Arkansas.
Lawyer conducted the singing for the meeting.30
Frank W. Gould
As 1951 began, it was unclear where the church was headed. There
was a notice on January 16 that Daly Wyatt and John Eades had attended the Freed
Hardeman College lectures. A month later a new preacher arrived on the scene.
M. L. Sexton (1951-1952)
The newspaper of February 16, 1951 showed the first notice for the
Church of Christ in some time. It listed M. L. Sexton as the preacher.
Sexton grew up in Kennett, attended the State Teachers College in
Cape, and then received theological training at Freed Hardeman
College. He came to Kennett from the Church of Christ at Pensacola,
Florida with two children, a girl of age 10 and a boy of age 6. He
played high school football in Kennett and married a Kennett native,
M. L. Sexton
That same week Antioch announced the closing of a successful series of meetings
with Vance Greenway.
In the Dunklin Democrat of June 2, Cardwell advertised a meeting with Andy T.
Richie; on July 7 they pictured the daughter of C. B. Thomas, now of Texas, getting
married; on July 18 there were ads for meetings in Hollywood (Charles Stovall), Bone Camp
(H. F. Sharp), and Antioch (John Brinn). Beginning in November, the Hornersville Church
of Christ kept a recurring ad for their services with Truman House listed as the minister.
the former Charmiene Lemonds.31 Classes were at 10, preaching at 11, a song drill at 6, and
preaching again at 7. Topics were “The Preacher and His Message” and “The Infallible
Book.” It also told of the Church of Christ program on KBOA at 9 on Sunday mornings.
It was a rather regular feature for Sexton to put the church notices in the paper, many times
including his topics. On February 23 his topics were “Leadership” and “Adam, a Type of
Christ.” He also included Wednesday information. The classes were at 7:30. This time the
speaker for the KBOA service was announced as James Mahan of Senath.
The church suffered what surely was a major loss when Daly Wyatt passed in February. His
obituary appeared on the front page of the newspaper. Charles Green was another loss in
The following are the topics listed in the church notices in 1951.
March 2
“Qualities Necessary to Good Leadership”
“He Left us An Example”
M. L. Sexton was the radio speaker
March 9
“Some Church Problems”
“Some Dangerous Errors on the Plan of Salvation”
March 16
“More Church Problems”
“More Dangerous Errors on the Plan of Salvation”
James Mahan was the radio speaker
March 3032
“What is in Thine Hand”
“The Model Church”
April 6
“The Authority of Christ”
“What a Church May Support”
April 2033
“Conviction or Convenience”
This personal information came from the November 11, 1952 newspaper.
This issue of the paper included a notice for a new class. “Please notice we have
started a training class on Tuesday evenings. M. L. Sexton and others from Kennett will be
at the Gibbons Church of Christ Thursday evening to help in a Bible study.”
The notice also included the following: “Many people do not know why the
Churches of Christ do not use the mechanical instrument in the music of the church. We are
going to give you that reason Sunday night. We are also going to point out what some
“Instrumental Music in the Worship”
James Mahan was the radio speaker
May 4
“How to Study the Bible”
“The New Birth”
M. L. Sexton was the radio speaker
May 11
“Rules of Bible Study”34
“The New Birth”
May 18
“What God Hath Joined Together”
May 25
“The Reformation”
“What God Hath Joined Together”
June 135
“Rules and Exceptions”
July 20
“Can a man save himself?”
“A Plea for Christ”
July 27
“Preach the Truth and Leave Everyone Alone”
“Saved by Grace Through Faith”
At this time Sexton announced a meeting at the church building,
beginning August 5, 1951. There was already a meeting
currently under way at the Bark Camp church. Nothing more is
said, but some rather impressive ads appeared in the next few
issues. John Jarrett of Lawrenceburg, TN held the meeting
outstanding religious leaders, historians, and encyclopedias have to say about it. We feel
that you have a right to know these things and we are going to call them to your attention
Sunday night.”
“The Lord said, ‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’ It is our
aim to teach the truth and help others to learn the truth by teaching them the truth, and
helping those who do not understand how to study the Bible in order to learn the truth, how
they may study the Book of all books to know the will of God.”
There was also a singing at the church at 2:30.
from August 5 to August 15, 1951.36 There was also a meeting at Cardwell with C. R.
Nichols at this time.
August 24
“The Gospel to every creature”
“The Gospel to every creature”
Several advertisements for the church began appearing without topics for sermons attached.
The church faded a bit from attention after that. But the September 21 newspaper contained
an interesting note.
The members of the Church of Christ at Cockrum wish to thank each and everyone
that assisted in any way in the erection of the church building and the ladies who
served dinner during this time. Also wish to thank those who assisted in the revival
services held here recently. Especially thank Lester Stewart, who gave the land upon
which the church was built.
The meeting to which the article referred was one conducted by Vance Greenway, as noted
in the September 18, 1951 issue.
September 28
“Christian Sacrifices”
“God’s Way Versus Man’s Way”
October 5
“Christian Sacrifices”
“The Reformation”37
October 19
“Mission of John the Baptist”
“Church Organization”38
October 26
“I Sat Where They Sat”
“The New Testament Church and It’s Government”39
This meeting was advertised in the August 3 and August 7 issues of the Democrat.
The October 9 paper included an announcement of a Bible study at the Cockrum
church, conducted by Carl North of Cardwell.
“Our Sunday evening sermons are now designed to show how we may distinguish
between the New Testament Church and denominationalism.”
“We are using a large chart in our lessons on Sunday evenings in connection with
our study of the New Testament Church. If you will attend these services you will be able to
discriminate between the Lord’s Church and denominationalism by the time we finish these
November 2
“Plowing in Hope”
“The New Testament Church, It’s Creed and Worship”
November 9
“Plowing in Hope”
“The Lord’s Supper” and “Discipline of the Church”
Bob Lawyer was the radio speaker.
November 16
“Misconceptions of the Church”
“Finance/Purpose of the Church Revealed in The Scriptures”
The notation in the November 30, 1951 issue told that “M. L. Sexton will begin a meeting at
Holcomb Sunday morning and will go through all the week.”
December 7
“The Bible”
“More About the Bible”
The year 1952 brought on
several developments within
the church. It would bring
to an end M. L. Sexton’s
tenure, but only after a very
active year of preaching.
The advertisements
appeared rather regularly
throughout the year. On
January 25, a front page
picture and article featured
the Church of Christ in
Kennett. They held the first
services in the new building
the previous Sunday and had
a near capacity crowd
(capacity was listed as 350).
The special sermon for the
occasion was entitled,
“Lasting Memorials.” The
Sunday following this issue
had the church beginning its
first gospel meeting in the
building with Sexton as the
preacher. A short history of
the church was included, as
well as a list of the former
preachers and current elders. The preachers for the church by then had been A. D. Dyes, E.
W. Stovall, Chris Lyles, Thomas L. Connor, C. W. Brannam, Norvell Brickell, Sterl Watson,
Robert F. Lawyer, George W. Toland, and Sexton. The elders at that time were: John L.
Eades, K. J. Fagan, H. D. Hulett, T. H. James, and W. E. Sexton. The topics for the
meeting to begin the next week included “How To Build Up The Church.”
The February 1, 1952 ad in the paper stated that a study was beginning on “Fundamental
Denominational Errors.” On February 8 the title was announced as “It Can Be Done.” In
addition, Bark Camp was having a singing school conducted by Hayden Mahan of Cardwell.
Sexton encouraged all members to support that school effort.
Throughout the year of 1952, several topics for sermons were published.40
February 22
Letter to the Church in Smyrna
Ye Are the Light of the World
February 29
The Church in Pergamos
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
March 21
The Church at Philadelphia
April 4
Things That Make for Peace
At the same time as this April 4, 1952 announcement, there was a
training class for men advertised for Friday at 7:15. Also, C. W.
Brannam was to begin a gospel meeting in Kennett with Bob
Lawyer conducting the song service.41
April 18
Marriage, It’s Purpose and Function
May 9
The Problems of Marriage
May 23
Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out
Seven Sayings of Christ
C. W. Brannam
A great article on “Evangelist Joe Blue” appeared in the February 22 issue. On
March 18, a list of members in Cardwell who attended a Bible Study with Hayden Mahan
was included in the paper. On August 1 it was noted that Vance Greenway had a successful
meeting at Cockrum.
Brannam went on to hold meetings in Senath in July and Hollywood in August. He
was paid $75 for the meeting. Sexton’s salary was $300 a month.
June 6
False Standards of Giving
The June 6 evening services were to be held in a tent on Highway
25, half mile “north of Y between Ashcraft’s and Fuzzell’s places.”
The subject would be “The Power of God’s Word.” This was the
beginning of a gospel meeting in this location. John Eades
conducted the singing and Sexton did the preaching. Subjects
included: Periods of Bible History, Sanctification or Holiness,
Signs and Miracles, The Establishment of the Church, Things
Which Divide Us, and Weighed in the Balances.
M. L. Sexton
The church then noted in the
paper that they had purchased a house to be used as a
residence for the preacher. The church had previously
rented the houses their preachers lived in, unless the
preacher himself purchased one. The house they bought
was located at 910 West Baker Drive.
The church’s house (2010)
On July 11, 1952 it was advertised that Sexton was in a
meeting at Holcomb and he encouraged all to attend.
On July 15 it was noted that a tent meeting was being held from July 14 to August 1, 1952
on North Baldwin Street. This was sponsored by “The Colored Church of Christ.” The
speaker was S. T. W. Gibbs, from Oklahoma.42
September 19
What Will You Do With Jesus
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
In the publication of September 19, 1952 another notice began appearing. The Church of
Christ at the Bark Camp Community listed the hours of services, with the preacher being A.
A. Taylor. It became a regular feature in the paper every Friday.
Finis Caldwell pointed out some comments from the book Show Us How You Do
It by Edward J. Robinson, pp. 150-151. Shelton Gibbs was a disciple of Marshall Keeble
from Jacksonville, FL. He was an active evangelist. He experienced success–10
conversions–in a meeting at Kennett, MO. “This meeting was sponsored by the white
church there for the few colored members that meet in Brother Haywood’s home. The white
brethren stated that they have in mind helping them secure a church home.” In the 1953
work in Kennett, Robert F. Lawyer praised Gibbs through Gospel Advocate. “We have not
had so powerful a gospel preacher here before among the colored brethren.” Finis Caldwell
himself remembered hearing this meeting from over a mile away.
September 26
Abraham Surrendered
The Holy Spirit in the New Testament
In addition, the Wednesday training class became more organized. In this class the church
taught “how to study the Bible, and also how to teach the truth more effectively. We will
also study controversial issues, and how to expose error in the light of divine truth.”
October 3
Leaning on Broken Staves
Inspiration of the Bible
October 24
What Is Wrong With Catholicism?
The November 11, 1952 issue featured an
article on Sexton’s plans to leave the
church. He was finishing the year at
Kennett and then moving on to
Haynesville, LA.
On November 14 it was announced that
Arvil Smith of Ruston, LA would speak at
the Wednesday evening services.
Arvil Smith
The November 28 issue listed the speaker
for the following Sunday to be Guthrie
Dean of Judsonia, AR.43
Guthrie Dean
December 5
What is Wrong with Catholicism?
What is Wrong with Roman Catholicism?
December 19
What is Wrong with Premillennialism?
Bill See (1953-1955)
The year 1953 was rather uneventful for the church. The church had been looking for a
preacher for some time. In a letter written in January of 1953, Finis Caldwell, in trying to
communicate the position of the church for a prospective preacher, described it this way:
Our average attendance the past year was 187. Contribution averaged weekly
$195.94. General interest far above average and evidence on every hand of
Arvil Smith was paid $40, Guthrie Dean $20.
willingness to take hold and help with every part of the work.
We are meeting in a new church building which is a little over one year from
completion. We now own a modern home in the best section of the city which is used
for preachers home.
Last season a tent and all equipment such as chairs, speaking system and other
necessary equipment was purchased and used in this section for mission work. A
meeting of the interested congregations met here last Sunday and worked out a
schedule for this season, which covers eight mission meetings within attendance
distance of Kennett.
Six elders are conducting the work in perfect harmony and looking forward with
interest to the time when this congregation reaches the point that we will be able to
really help promote the cause of Christ in other sections.
There were some interesting things that took
place among the church members. Following
one Wednesday night study, the members had
their blood “typed.” Rosemary Burcham was a
technician at the hospital at the time, and was
instrumental in overseeing this activity. It was
to promote the giving of blood.44
The advertisement for the church on February
13, 1953 mentioned that Evangelist Jesse
Plato Black
Edgar Dye
Lewis would be the guest speaker.45 Others
who came to fill the pulpit or to look over the work included Don Johnson and Plato Black
in January, Kirk Blankenship in February, and Edgar Dye in March.
Then in the April 30 issue the announcement of a new preacher came:
William A. See will begin his work with the church as regular minister, Sunday, May
3. Brother See, wife, and two-year-old daughter will be at home in the church
residence at 910 W. Baker Dr., Baker Addition about the 15th of May.
The February 6 newspaper mentioned that Milton Truex was preaching at Piggott.
In January of 1953, Don H. Johnson and Plato A. Black were paid as visiting
preachers; in February Kirk Blankenship was paid to preach. Then in March, Edgar Dye was
a visiting preacher while William See was paid to cover travel expense. By May, See was
hired and his salary was $300 a month.
See made sure the church information was posted each week, but
rarely mentioned his sermon topic. “Rightly Dividing the Word” was
his first lesson. In a June issue he listed his topics as “Whole Duty of
Man” and “God is Not Mocked.” Senath also had a preaching change
as Howard Sawyer came on board for them.
A special announcement came
on July 2, 1953. It was placed
in an advertising box, showing
the times when the church was
meeting. But the big letters
Bill See
conveyed a big meaning:
The meeting house of the Church of Christ 4th
and Slicer Streets now AIR
The church invited C. W. Brannam back for a
meeting from July 20 to July 30. R. C. Bridges was
to be the song leader.47
The July 6 issue also showed that James Braswell of Steele was holding a meeting
at Cockrum.
In correspondence signed by Finis J. Caldwell, the church contacted Bill See in
March concerning this meeting with Brannam. At the same time this meeting was going on
in Kennett, Bill See was holding a tent meeting at White Oak. The church owned a tent that
was used often by churches in the area. Brannam was paid $250 for preaching and R. C.
Then a series of lectures was held November 2 through 6, 1953.
O. C. Lambert of Decatur, AL was the speaker. It focused on
Catholicism. Subjects included:
O. C. Lambert
The Falling Away and Restoration:
Paganism, Fraud, Falsehood, and Forgery
Hierarchy and Sacraments:
Mariolatry, Superstition, Foolish
Apostolicity, Unity, Holiness, and
Catholicism, Our Most Dangerous
The ad also issued a challenge: “if you are a Catholic official and do not agree with the
speaker, we invite you to occupy the speakers platform half-time.”
These are the activities of the church during Bill See’s first year, 1953.48 In addition, the
church began sending $10 a month to the Tennessee Orphans Home in Spring Hill.49 He
continued to faithfully advertise the church in 1954, with a few special events.
It is at this point that the newspaper starts fading out as the primary source of church history,
at least for a time. The first extant bulletins of the church are in 1954 with William See
responsible. The name of the bulletin was “The Informer” and it was “Published weekly by
the church of Christ, Kennett, Mo, for the purpose of informing and inspiring.”
On the front was listed the elders:
F. J. Caldwell, Sr
T. H. James
G. A. Caneer
A. R. Rose
H. D. Hulett, Sr.
W. E. Sexton
Also included were the deacons:
Bridges $50 for leading singing.
Emmitt Smith of Paragould was to conduct a series of meetings at Cockrum,
according to the Democrat of 3 December, 1953
This was acknowledged in a letter from Finis Caldwell to the Home on November
12, 1953.
Woodrow Adkins
Chester Folks
J. R. Burcham, Jr.
H. D. Hulett, Jr.
Cleo Davis
Glenn Rogers
The January 3, 1954 bulletin listed the accomplishments of the church from the previous
Four road signs erected on highways
PA system installed in new building
Cooling system installed in new building
Purchased 200 new song books
Water heater installed in baptistry
Purchased new Ditto machine
New building for Colored Brethren almost completed
32 responded to the invitation of the Lord since May
Sponsored Mission Meetings, plus one regular meeting and one lecture here in
Average attendance per Sunday
1952: 203
1953: 207
Average weekly contribution
1952: 184.25
1953: 201.86
Within the bulletin was printed names of visitors, the sick, and the improved. They
announced that the work on the building for the colored church was almost complete.50 The
attendance for the week prior was 230, an increase of 53 from the first Sunday of the
previous year. Sunday evening attendance was 159 and the previous Wednesday night
attendance was 112. The offering was $203.24. The back page showed the budget for the
year, which was increased by 22% based on a contribution of $243.10 every Sunday.
In February See announced in the paper (and the bulletin) a special lectureship at the church
from February 14-21, 1954.
The colored members of the church, according to a letter from Finis Caldwell to
elders of the church in Memphis, dated September 1953, had been meeting in one of the
school buildings of the community. This was no longer possible, so they then met in the
home of Joe and Easter Haywood. Two elders and a deacon at Slicer Street and Joe
Haywood were trustees for the work. A church building of the church of Christ was located
at Cross Roads, MO. It was agreed that the building would be moved to Kennett and used
for the colored church of Christ. There is no indication this actually happened, however.
Sunday Morning
Proof that Jesus of Nazareth is the
Christ, the Son of God
William See
Sunday Night
Church Discipline
Milton E. Truex of Piggott,
Milton Truex
H. A. Dixon
Monday Night
The Necessity of the Church
H. A. Dixon of Freed Hardeman College
Tuesday Night
The Necessity of Unity Among
L. N. Moody of Jonesboro,
L. N. Moody
Wednesday Night
The Necessity of Attendance
Guthrie Dean of Judsonia,
Guthrie Dean
Thursday Night
The Worship of the Church
Frank Puckett of Calico
Rock, AR
Friday Night
Tommy McClure of
Blytheville, AR
John Brinn
Saturday Night
Striving Toward Perfection
John Brinn of Freed
Hardeman College
Frank Puckett
Heaven and How to Go There (Morning)
The Devil’s Church (Evening)
William See of Kennett, MO
It wasn’t long after this meeting–on February 22–when Brother See’s wife had a daughter at
County Hospital in Kennett.
On March 1, 1954 the newspaper listed the results of a church census taken in the town of
Kennett. The third paragraph on the second page of the report was as follows:
Third largest were members of the Church of Christ and those who stated a
preference for that denomination. They totaled 252 white and 13 Negroes.
The church bulletins then provide some information. The “Southwestern Spiritual Singers”
from Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas sang at the church building on March
7. Brother See’s salary was $325 a month. He conducted a meeting in April at Malden. He
described it as well attended, with at least three baptisms. He commented that “Glen Jaques
has done a good work there.” Jaques preached in Kennett when See went to Malden.
See held a meeting for the Blytheville church beginning 14
March, 1954. Tommy McClure spoke in his stead. From
May 9 to 18, 1954 the church hosted a Gospel Meeting each
night at 8:00. The speaker was Tommy McClure.
The summer of 1954 seems to have been rather busy. In June
Foy Wallace held a meeting at Piggott. See held a six day
meeting at Myron, AR. This was the fifth year for him to do
so. There was no church there, so it was a mission effort. In
July he held a tent meeting at Frisbee. And from July 19 to 28
a mission meeting was held at Ironton, MO. At the time there
was no congregation there but “opportunities are great for
good work to be accomplished.” In the area, Milton Truex
had left Piggott and Brother See did the radio work for him.
Eddie Dye began working in Rector in mid-July, following
fill-in work by Clois Sutton and Russ Burcham. See also
held a meeting at White Oak in early August. There was also
a meeting at the colored church and an annual picnic for area
churches of Christ in the City Park on July 29. Other area
meetings included M. L. Sexton at Samford, Emmitt Smith at Marmaduke, Hayden Mayhan
at Mounds, Billy Moore in Caruthersville, and Lonnie Smith at Gideon.
Things held steady until August of 1954. The church had regularly supported the Southern
Christian Home and the Tennessee Orphans Home. In August the church began sending
support to the Herald of Truth radio and television work. The August 19 issue of the
Democrat announced that there would be no Wednesday evening Bible study for the week.
They also advertised for the next Sunday:
In the absence of Brother See and beginning this Sunday, Aug. 22, the young men of
the congregation will conduct a series of meetings. A different speaker will be
presented each evening. All are welcome. You will enjoy the more informal
approach of the speakers to their subject which will range from “Christian
Responsibility” to “Common Errors in Religion.” The meetings will continue for
one week. Each service will begin at 7:45 pm.
The bulletin filled in the details about this special 1954 lectureship.
Sunday, August 22
Monday, August 23
Tuesday, August 24
Wednesday, August 25
Thursday, August 26
Friday, August 27
Saturday, August 28
Sunday, August 29
B. H. Hayden and J. R. Burcham, Jr.
William Hobbs
Jack Hulett
Woodrow Adkins
Doyle Akers
Nelis Williams
Clyde Cumins
J. R. Burcham and Cleo Davis
During this time, See went for a meeting in White Hall, AR before going to Nashville.
Other gospel meetings at this time in the area included Brother Bessire at Pascola and
William Hull in Senath.
The bulletin of August 22 also included the story of Emmitt Smith starting Crowley’s Ridge
Academy in Paragould, AR.
In the September 3, 1954 bulletin, the attendance from the previous week was listed at 254.
See also expressed a concern with too much “cutting up” from the older young people during
services. In October he listed a sermon on “Guarantees from the Lord” and he advertised a
Bible Forum on the Holy Spirit at Seventh and Mueller Church of Christ in Paragould,
utilizing five different speakers. He also had the church preparing for its first membership
Lonnie Smith became the new Bakerville preacher, according to the November 18
The young people were treated to a rally in Kennett on November 11, 1954. Sixty
congregations had been invited to this gathering “conducted by the Young People for the
Young People.” About 400 people attended. The November 14 bulletin issued a challenge
to pay off the note on the auditorium by the end of the year.
The bulletin on November 21, 1954 listed his evening sermon as “A Picture of Every
Possible Relationship Between Sin and Death.” The attendance had been 230. The next
week the church hit the record of 300 in attendance. The directory was complete, showing a
member count of 219. The contribution was averaging one dollar per person.
Things go silent until November 25, 1954. Two things then took place in the newspaper that
highlighted the church. First, the weekly advertisement took on greater weight, which would
carry on well into 1955. The times were listed followed by the following description.
The Church of Christ pleads for a complete return to New
Testament Christianity.
1. No name but Christ.
2. No creed but the Bible.
3. No worship except that found in the New
4. A pure, chaste, holy life by all Christians.
Edgar Dye
This is the only formula which can cause religious people to
speak the same thing: to be of the same mind and the same
Second, the church was hosting a “Lectureship and Bible
Forum on the Holy Spirit.” It took place from November 29
through December 5, 1954.
November 29
Identity of the Holy Spirit
Edgar J. Dye of Rector, AR
November 30
Work of the Holy Spirit in the Old
John Bessier of Wardell, MO
John Bessire
December 1
Work of the Holy Spirit in
Glenn McDoniel of Piggott, AR
December 2
The Gift of the Holy Spirit
Emmett Smith of Paragould, AR
Glenn McDoniel
December 3
Miraculous Gifts of the Holy
Alton James of Steele, MO
December 4
The Witness of the Holy Spirit
Brad Brumley of Rector, AR
December 5
The Holy spirit and Christian
Bill See of Kennett, MO
Emmett Smith
All were invited to attend and time was to be allowed for
questions. Every question was promised an answer.
An interesting card was reprinted in a December 1954 bulletin. A
man from St. Louis sent a card of thanks, noting that he was part
of the church from 1919 to 1928. He was an orphan raised by
Gertrude Green. He emphasized, “I haven’t forgotten to love the
As the calendar turned to 1955, the church continued to preach.
Attendance was 273 with a contribution of $245.72. C. A. Lyles
of Fort Worth, TX, a former resident of Kennett, became the new
Brad Brumley
minister of the Church of Christ in Campbell. Lyles had left
Kennett in 1933. His mother was planning to return to Kennett to
live at the same time. The church began to support mission work in France, through Farrell
Till, at a rate of $50 a month. He spoke on January 30, 1955.
The church held a Gospel Meeting from February 20 to March 2 of 1955. The speaker was
Glen McDoniel. McDoniel had spoken at the church on February 6 to allow Brother See to
speak at the lectureship in Piggott. In the same issue of the Democrat that advertised the
meeting, the church took issue with a previous article in the newspaper. The Knights of
Columbus, the ad argued, printed an article that gave the impression that “the Bible is a
Catholic book, having to be interpreted and proved by the Catholic Church.” The church
attacked this idea as “blasphemy” and a “flagrant falsehood.” The ad went on to make an
argument for the inspiration of Scripture. Six arguments were offered and then a statement
was given to object to central tenets of Catholicism. Finally, the challenge was given for a
priest who would be willing to put Catholic teaching “to the test of a public discussion.”
The bulletin stepped in to fill some gaps left by the newspaper. In March, a new
congregation was established at Pascola. They met at McCulom’s Warehouse for a meeting.
In addition, the church made a mission effort in Fredericktown, MO. See described this as
“a new work in a very hard field.” Sterl Watson was the speaker.51
In April, attendance one week was 321, which was a new record
that had been set for the third straight week. And See held a
meeting in Piggott. Membership directories were finally issued to
members and Tommy McClure held a meeting for the church from
April 1 to11, 1955.
The June 19, 1955 bulletin was Brother See’s last with the Kennett
church. He had a parting message that was positive. The church
apparently presented him and his family with a parting gift and for
Brother See it was a symbol of the friendship and fellowship he
Tommy McClure
loved with the church. He issued a challenge for them to reach the
potential that was obviously there. He moved on to Blytheville and welcomed any visits.
The family consisted of Bill, Polly, Billy, and Angela.52
Cecil Wright
The church then went silent, as far as the newspaper was concerned.
Except for meeting times, no mention was made of the church. The
bulletin continues to be printed, and with a new face. Now the front
featured a picture of the church building, complete with beautiful trees.
It was called “The Informer.” M. L. Sexton visited in early July and
Cecil Wright tried out for the preaching position. Two new member
families were added to the directory: the Fagans and the John Eads.
Several meetings were listed in the area: Cleo Blue in Nimmons, Flavil
Nichols in Wardell, Charles Stovall in Hornersville, John Brinn in
Marmaduke, G. K. Wallace in Piggott, and M. L. Sexton in Holcomb.
The church had the annual churches of Christ picnic on July 29.
Virgil Lawyer (1955-1957)
Then the pulpit was filled. Bob Lawyer’s brother, Virgil, came from Justin, Texas to begin
the work. His first day was the third Sunday in August in 1955.53
There are extant letters of correspondence concerning this mission effort. The
church paid Sterl Watson $150 for this mission effort.
William Arthur See was in the Air Force for 3 years. He attended the University of
Kentucky and Harding University before coming to Kennett. After leaving, he graduated
from Middle Tennessee State University. He was a preacher, school teacher, and principal.
He died of an aneurism in 1992.
The elders received a letter of recommendation for Virgil Lawyer from the church
in Justin, TX. He had let that church know of his intentions to leave 2 months in advance
and he left of his own accord. He was “a good speaker” and “well educated.” He had served
In August 1955, Sterl A. Watson from St.
Louis conducted a meeting from the 8th to
the 18th.54 In the November 3 issue of the
paper, a Skelton funeral was held,
conducted by Virgil Lawyer. That was the
first indication in the Democrat of a change
of ministers. And in the November 14
issue, Mrs. Virgil Lawyer is said to have
given birth to a daughter at County
Virgil Lawyer
Sterl Watson
as a missionary in Japan for five years, “pays his personal bills and attends to his business in
a highly respectable manner.”
The church paid Watson $200 for this meeting and Virgil Lawyer $200 for half a
month’s salary. His moving expenses were also paid, $540. In October, Senath welcomed a
new preacher, Joyce Hendricks.
Lawyer had a strong emphasis on attendance and giving, as evidenced in his bulletin. His
first paragraph urged better attendance and better giving. The September 4, 1955 bulletin
showed attendance at 267 and giving by the “weakly” attendance at 257.11. By October, the
bulletin showed a salary for Lawyer at $400. He got a meeting of young people going in
September and even took them for a hot dog roast on the banks of the Mississippi in
October. The attendance increased, too.
September 11, 1955
October 9, 1955
January 29, 1956
Through the bulletin, which was now all done by professional print with the help of Buddy
Hunter, Lawyer improved the image of the church. The men had a good fish fry on March 4,
with Ira Mercer getting the fish and Clyde Cumins being the chief cook.
The church was also generous in more local works in 1955. “Church of Christ Orphan
Care” was given $100 a month. The October 23 bulletin mentioned the desire to begin a
work to help local orphans. The Fredericktown Church of Christ was started out with $100
and was kept up with $10 a month, as was the Pascola church. A mission in Japan under the
work of Joe Betz was begun. The White Oak Church of Christ also received support.
The coming of 1956 brought a lectureship at Caruthersville and a bit of bad weather,
impacting church attendance. Those waiting on the table in February included Jarold Hulett,
Joe Mac Smithson, Bob Johnson, Don Goldsmith, Harold Hulett, Bill Grogan, Webb
Caldwell, and Paul Bass. A meeting was advertised for March 11-18.
The March 11, 1956 bulletin put attendance at 301 and the offering at
304.35. Charles Archer had been baptized the previous Thursday,
with Everett Terry and Lacy Wright fixing the baptistry heater. Later
in March, Lawyer returned to Texas for a visit. The attendance went
down a bit, but Russ Burcham was commended for doing an excellent
bulletin and covering the pulpit “exceptionally well.” In April, the
church set an attendance record with 332. Area meetings included
Claude Thomas at Holcomb and Curtis Porter at Steele, while F. W.
Mattox spoke at a lectureship in Rector. In June, Lawyer conducted a
meeting at Seventh and Mueller in Paragould while Emmett Smith
Emmett Smith
filled the pulpit in Kennett. A note is included in the May 27, 1956
At a meeting of the men of this congregation last Tuesday evening, it was decided to
keep the present method we have of contributing to orphanages and the Herald of
Truth. You can either give your money to those who are taking it up at the door or
send it directly to the place you want it to go. One thing is certain, we have an
obligation to help the widows and orphans. If you are not doing any of this type of
work, then you are falling short of obeying God.
The June bulletin showed the adult classes and their attendance
goals. Classes were taught in teams and included
Casey/Caldwell, Armstrong/Yates, Rogers/Rogers, Davis/Hulett,
Lawyer/Wright, Sutton/Burcham, and Sexton/Eades.
Lawyer held a meeting in Leachville on the weekend of July 22.
Kennett held a meeting August 16 to 26, 1956 with Riley Henry
of Mangum, Oklahoma.55 The bulletin of September 2, 1956
would be Virgil Lawyer’s last. He reviewed his tenure.
Attendance was the same as when he came the year before. The
contribution was up, however. There were 12 restorations and 27
baptisms, along with 5 new members. So the increase of people
was 44, yet there was no visible increase in attendance. His
conclusion for what that meant was the first clear indication of
some trouble ahead for the Kennett Church.
Riley Henry
TROUBLE! A congregation cannot be torn with the dissension this congregation
has suffered during this past year and grow as it ought to grow. Now it appears that
the dissenters have at last rebelled against the elders and will worship elsewhere.
There is little doubt in my mind but that this will work toward the betterment of the
congregation here.
Lawyer encouraged those who remained to work hard. He warned them to not engage in
“more ‘dark of the night’ secret sessions and whispering
campaigns.” There should be no more “running to a new born
babe in Christ for advice and counsel.” If members still wanted
to do such things, he encouraged them to “go now and don’t
remain to stir up more trouble and strife.”
Nothing is publicly said about the church in the newspaper for
quite some time. In August there was an ad for a meeting at
Boynton with Marshall Connor. The church records indicated
that Vance Greenway, Valley P. Wright, George Hickey, and
John Fulford were paid for preaching in August of 1956. In
September, James M. Benson, Hugo Allmond, Stanley Jones,
J. S. Jones
There was no advertising of this meeting. Church records include a letter of
confirmation from Riley Henry, who had also preached in the Walnut Ridge, AR area.
and J. W. Holiday were paid for preaching. In October, C. W. Brannam and Stanley Jones
were paid for some preaching duties. Stanley Jones did the bulk of the preaching at this
But this chapter of the church’s history came to an end, told only by a piece of information
in the “Locals” sections of the September 7, 1956 issue of the Democrat.
Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Lawyer and children, Lauren and Andee Lea, left Wednesday for
Idalou, Texas, to make their home. Mr. Lawyer, who has been minister of the
Church of Christ in Kennett for the past two years, will teach in the Junior Christian
College at Lubbock, Texas, and will also be the minister of Church of Christ at
With that, the peaceful history of a series of preachers filling the pulpit of the church came to
an end. With the very same issue of the newspaper came news of the next chapter in the life
of the church, one that was stormy and controversial.