Higginson, Arkansas, is home to a church of Christ for the first time. The new congregation is currently overseen by College church of Christ.
For many years, Garry Neal, a retired Gospel preacher from Little Rock, Arkansas, desired to have a church of Christ in Higginson, Eddie Cloer, Harding Bible professor and an elder at College church of Christ, said.
“Garry Neal grew up in Higginson and always wanted to come back and plant a church there,” Cloer said.
When a Methodist church building in town became vacant, he saw an opportunity to fulfill his aspiration. Neal contacted Cloer and other College church of Christ elders, including Harding professors David Bangs and Norm Stone.
“We would not even have the meeting place if Garry had not brought it to our attention,” Bangs said.
After completing the purchase from the United Methodist Church, minor renovations began on the building. Cloer enlisted the help of other small-town congregations including those in Kensett and Griffithville, Arkansas to help with refurbishing.
Even after the building was restored, the Higginson church faced a unique problem thanks to its atypical origin. According to Cloer, nearly every church plant in the U.S. begins with establishing groups of people before finding a place to worship.
“This one is backwards.” Cloer said. “Normally we plant the church, then find the building. We have the building, now we need to find the church.”
When renovations were mostly complete, Dr. Kevin Klein, a deacon at College church of Christ and Harding history professor, was commissioned to help bring people to worship.
“Most of my life has been associated with small churches, so I am familiar with that and have a certain affection for those brothers,” Klein said.
According to Klein, the one thing he tries hardest to add to the Higginson effort is to make the church available on a regular basis for meetings.
“My job is to essentially get the doors open, and once that happens, be perfectly willing to step aside,” Klein said.
Wednesday evening devotionals began in the building throughout the summer of 2015, but the infant church held its inaugural Sunday morning service on Aug. 30. Approximately 100 worshippers attended the service, which was described by the College church elders as “a smashing success.”
“I think it has a chance to be a really good place, not only for the community but also for Harding students who can go out and use it as a lab for preaching,” Bangs said.
According to the College church overseers, their eventual goal is to guide the Higginson church into a self-sustaining entity capable of running itself.
“I would love to see a congregation here that’s independent, locally led and soul winning,” Klein said. “God knows the plans he has for us, our job is to be faithful to the things that are right in front of us. Well, this thing was right in front of us, so we have to be faithful to that.”
Sunday services at the Higginson church of Christ include 10 a.m. Bible class and 11 a.m. worship. Wednesday Bible study begins at 7 p.m. More information can be found at www.facebook.com/HigginsonchurchofChrist.