In 2018, Helena First United Methodist Church celebrated 200 years of “worship, faith, and evangelizing.” This past June, they held a celebration ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the church’s founding in 1818.

According to an announcement sent out by the church, Helena First was founded in 1818 after William Harrison Bailey of Kentucky came to the Helena area and began holding prayer meetings in his home with other early settlers to the Arkansas territory.

Eventually, those prayer meetings became an organized congregation and was the first congregation of the Methodist Society west of the Mississippi River, marking the start of Methodism in Arkansas.

From left to right: Rev. Deborah Head, Rev. Melissa Maskell, Rev. Larry Dodgen, Bishop Gary Mueller, District Superintendent Mark Norman, Rev. Rockey Starnes, and Rev. Joe Head. || Photo provided by Helena First UMC

Helena First held a full weekend of events from June 7 – 9. There were sessions going over the history of the church, prayer breakfasts and dinners, an organ recital by Adam Savacool, a recreation of an old-time tent revival led by Southeast District Superintendent Mark Norman, and a formal worship service on Sunday night with a sermon delivered by Bishop Gary Mueller.

Bishop Mueller also dedicated and blessed a new addition to the church property; a historical marker that tells the history of Helena First United Methodist Church.

The Rev. Deborah Head, senior pastor of Helena First UMC, said she is grateful for Bishop Mueller and Southeast District Superintendent Rev. Mark Norman’s presence at the celebration.

“Helena First United Methodist Church was blessed to celebrate 200 years of Methodist ministry in Eastern Arkansas,” Head said. “Brother Mark preached a fiery Saturday evening sermon and on Sunday, Bishop Mueller brought the Word and Scripture and presented us with a challenge of staying faithful for our next 200 years. It was a wonderful weekend of celebration.”

For more on the history of Helena First UMC, visit the history page on their church website, https://helenaunitedmethodist.org/about-helena-first-united-methodist-church/.