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Precious Memories: Our Vanishing Rural Churches

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As we move into the 21st century, Precious Memories: Our Vanishing Rural Churches takes a look back at the small country churches around the state of Arkansas. These church homes are historic and detail a way of life and heritage threatened by extinction in today's society.

For many of us, churches provide a sense of security and memories of home and family. This program reminds us of a time when life was simpler and perhaps better, a time when the church was the cornerstone of rural life. Picturesque and often humble, these churches can be seen along lonely country roads. Many were humble from their beginnings, others humbled by time and disuse. All are filled with meaning and memories, though many now stand vacant or have dwindling congregations.

Five churches are featured in this program: Smyrna Methodist Church, Buckville Baptist Church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Point Cedar Methodist Church and Community African Methodist Episcopal Church.

  • Buckville Baptist Church: Once a bustling town of nearly 400 in the late 1800s, Buckville now lies under Lake Ouachita. Spared from the flood in the 1950s, the Buckville Baptist Church was moved from one hilltop to another by the congregation.
  • Community African Methodist Episcopal Church: The Community African Methodist Episcopal is a church shared by the African American people of four small communities in eastern Arkansas: Birdeye, Cherry Valley, Harrisburg and Whitehall.
  • Sacred Heart Catholic Church: Sacred Heart Catholic Church started as a one-room wooden church which served German settlers that came to Arkansas in the late 1800s. The larger ornate wooden church which stands today was built in 1902. With more churches merging with larger congregations, this church was force to close its doors in 1998.
  • Point Cedar Methodist Church: Point Cedar Methodist Church, located north of DeGray Lake, was organized before the Civil War and closed its doors in 1998 after serving the community for 140 years. The building still stands on Hwy. 84, but is not in use.
  • Smyrna Methodist Church: On a wooded hill near Arkadelphia, the Smyrna Methodist Church sits where a once thriving farming community flourished. This tiny, one-room wooden structure has two single-bulb light fixtures, no air conditioning, propane heat, circa 1870s wooden pews and an outhouse.