How we got here:
A story of God's amazing grace.
Over a decade before the Civil War,
Baptists were meeting in Mt. Vernon. One group in a log house, another in
a group called Bethelehem, and another group called Cedar Grove. It was
the middle 1840's. They decided to join at a half-way house which would
be in the town of what is now known as Mt. Vernon, Arkansas. In 1850 the
town was named Stone Wall Jackson, then the name later changed to
Houseville, named after Tom House, a local saddle shop owner. During the
Civil War it was dangerous to meet as Federal troops roamed the countryside,
but this faithful group of fewer than a dozen decided to build a church and
toward the end of the Civil War in 1867 they did. This church is believed
to be on the same spot as our current church and was added to and then torn
down to build a new one where our old sanctuary still stands.
Preachers were many times traveling
preachers on horseback, called circuit riders, who would go from church to
church. One of those preachers, J.F. Sheffey, became pastor near this
time and was pastor on and off for many years. It wasn't until a century
later that what happened during that time would be known. For in the
1980's, ancestors of the Sheffey family came to Arkansas from California,
searching for cemetery sites of their family. They found a long-time
resident of Mt. Vernon, Alonzo Hawkins, who showed them where the Sheffeys
were buried in the cemetery.
Not long after the
Sheffeys returned to California, they sent back to Arkansas, a diary, a
saddle bag, and books belonging to the 1800's circuit rider, J.F.
Sheffey. The diary contained valuable historic information about the
times in and around Mt. Vernon and spurred some members to do further research
on the history of our church. After several years a book was written, now
located in the church library along with the artifacts owned by the circuit
rider, and other pictures of our church history. Our Church history can
be traced to 1848 and possibly earlier. This makes our church around
150 to 160 years old, one of the oldest in the state!
For decades faithful men and women have continued to serve the Lord
through Mount Vernon Baptist Church. They kept the church a pillar in the
community and built it up. Starting in 1999 God moved in a special way
upon the church. A building program began on a new sanctuary. The
sanctuary had been a vision of long-time pastor Bro. Bill Canary. The church
built a sanctuary that they thought could never be filled in their community,
but on the first Sunday chairs had to be brought inside the sanctuary. This has
continued. During that time a food pantry, van ministry, youth, and children's
program were begun, and God moved in a mighty way. In the early 2000s MVBC was
one of the fastest growing churches in the state of Arkansas. The church has
continued to be a leader in baptisms in the state. God is still doing an
amazing work at MVBC.