The roots of an Arkansas community can often be found within the rich history of its spiritual foundations. This is seen clearly within the 150 years of service to Mount Ida given by the members of the Mount Ida First United Methodist Church.
Members of the congregation will welcome past members, pastors and friends to a 150 year celebration September 22 and 23. An open house will be held Saturday, September 22, from 1-3 p.m. and a day of celebration will be held Sunday, September 23. Special guest speaker Bishop Gary Mueller will bring the message Sunday, followed by a catered meal on the grounds.
This weekend is just one of many over the years where members of the community have gathered to worship God and serve the community. The work of the church spans the breadth of need and service in the community, continuing a work that began in 1868.
The first pastor of record for the church was John Holmes and the first member was James B. Fulton. According to a history of the church compiled in 1953 by W.G. Whittington and Jerry Witt, Fulton was better known as “Uncle Jim.” Almeda Fulton was the first recorded baptism in the church in 1872.
“Uncle Jim” had to canoe across a creek to get to church every service and was the first Sunday School Superintendent. He provided a place to stay for many of the early pastors who were known as circuit preachers. They would ride their horses from church to church preaching and officiating services as needed. Some of the pastors also stayed at the Watkins Hotel owned by C.J. Watkins where they would also stable their horses.
Services were originally held in the old courthouse, which later became Mount Ida’s first school.
The first church building was built at the current location when the land was sold to the Methodist Church for $25 by Mr. and Mrs. C.D. Goodner, February 1, 1888. The original building was built out of local virgin timber by Louis and Robert Jackson. The stone structure now used by the congregation was built around the original structure.
Goodner was an active member in the church who often led singing during services.
Trustees listed on the original deed include: J.B. Fulton, George Golden, C.J. Watkins, H.A. Whittington and A.J. Pool.
J.M. Hamilton was the pastor from 1919-1922. He would go on to become the District Superintendent. It was under his leadership that the church acquired the ground where the parsonage now stands.
W.S. Cazort served as Pastor from 1940-1950. It was under his leadership that the current church building and parsonage was built. During this time the church took in 96 new members.
The church would like to invite the community, former members, pastors and current members to help them celebrate their sesquicentennial anniversary September 22 and 23. They remind those planning to attend Sunday that the catered meal is RSVP. For more information contact Pastor Russell Hull at (870) 867-3213.