Smyrna Baptist

from A Brief History of the Smyrna Baptist Church

As the Civil War came to a close and families planned again for future living, the young adults in the South began to move westward into this beautiful state of Missouri. It is likely that Revelation 2:10 (Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life) was the inspiration for the choice of the name Smyrna. The Smyrna Baptist Church met in homes and in the Parch Corn School building.

The church building was constructed in 1890 on a hilltop of the Waggoner Place — across from the Gilbert Gaither home. However, spring flooding and winter snow and ice presented problems and the building was moved in 1908.

The church was moved down the hill, near the Parch Corn School at the crossroads of the Ozark-to-Pembina and Ozark-to-Linden (Kenton) roads. The church grew and became a vital part of the community. Hitching posts were provided on the property and the spring branch at the back of the church assured for the provision of horses.

Smyrna was a part of the Southwest Bethel Baptist Association and sent messengers to the 28th annual session of 1887. The church would host the annual associations of 1884, 1890, 1897, 1913 and 1924. These were busy days for the ladies who cooked at the church beneath a tent. Protracted meetings were held and the church grew to a membership of 206 by 1920.

For 75 years, a huge, pot-bellied stove provided “central heating.” Gas lamps, that had to be pumped up now and then, provided light for evening services. There would be candlight services when the gass supply ran out.

In the rainy season, only those in the Linden area could attend. The creek road branches were closely watched when a rise might come.

County events at Smyrna (and revivals) were scheduled for the drier months of the year. The name Smyrna Baptist Church was painted on a broad plank and spanned the distance above the double doors. Classes met in sections of seats and sound was a low rumble.

During the ’30s, roads were improved and Model Ts and Chevrolets were common on the roads to Ozark, Rogersville and Springfield. The Jolleys came from St. Louis to live in Linden, providing both encouragement and transportation to young children living in the area.

The first Bible School was led by a visiting evangelist from Mountain Home, Arkansas. The equipment consisted of American and Christian flags and 13 available children. County missionary Bruce Maples held the Bible School the next summer.

The Smyrna Women's Missionary Society was organized in November, 1930, by the pastor's wife, May Ritzinger. There were 14 members. Their goal was to promote missions throughout the world. Smyrna achieved the goal of full-time ministry when Claude Barclay, a young salesman of Springfield, felt the call to preach and was recommended by a retiring minister. A building fund was started and plans were made to remodel the church. Electricity was installed, along with other improvements, in 1964.

Today, Smyrna Baptist Church, on the crossroads of Parch Corn Holler, still draws folks from across the hills — folks hungry for the Word of God, good music and honest fellowship.

plate 1. Smyrna Baptist Church near Rogersville, Missouri. April 7, 2009.

“...And the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” — ACTS 11:21


plate 2. Smyrna Baptist Church, circa 1974.


plate 3. Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Coffey Green join Smyrna Baptist by letter in 1886. Photos courtesy of Smryna Baptist.


plate 3. Parch Corn Holler Crossroads. December 14, 2008.

The information for the articles of this page have been taken, with much appreciation from A Brief History of the Smyrna Baptist Church of Route 1, Rogersville, Missouri “Parch Corn Hollow”, 1974.

From Revelation Chapter 2:

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

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The Williamsons

(Wetumka, Ok) Some Southern Gospel aficianados may not think of Oklahoma when they thing of great quartet singing but The Williamsons, headed up by longtime gospel vocalist Donnie Williamson, are changing all that.

The group, which inclues wife Lisa, bass singer Darin Hebert of Oak Grove, Louisiana, and tenor singer Karl Rice of Charleston, South Carolina, has thus far chosen to remain independent, producing their own projects although they are associated with the Gospel Station Radio Network (the largest network of home-owned gospel stations) and with Vertical Sky Radio Promotion, owned by Donna and Zane King, top Southern Gospel producers.

The quartet has also begun working closely with Eureka Springs’ Passion Play, in association with Gospel Station Radio Network (which took over the Play as it was suffering from financial difficulties). “The Passion Play was going into foreclosure,” explains Donnie, “And we worked together to raise $75,000 to stall off the creditors. They went ahead and had a great season with a 30 percent boost in attendance.”

Williamson has been singing gospel music professionally since 1969. “My dad was a Freewill Baptist minister and he would hold singing revivals. We would have a concert every night and then preaching and it was almost more singing that preaching. We didn’t do a whole lot nationally but it sure grounded me in the importance of sharing the Gospel through music.”

The group’s latest project, Counting My Blessings, features Lisa with five original songs as well as a number of classics, including selections by Dottie Rambo and the Irving Berlin classic Count My Blessings (originally featured in the 1954 classic White Christmas). “That song may not have been intended for a Gospel recording,” notes Donnie, “But she wanted a classic song like that and it came out really great.”

The group is notable for their overall quality. “I remember watching a documentary on Kentucky music,” remembers Donnie. “And they were talking about Gospel music back in the hills. One of those singers said, ‘You know, God don’t care what you sound like but sometimes people are a little more particular.’ I always think of that”

So what sets The Williamsons apart, aside from their quality sound? “We are one of the very few mixed quartets,” says Donnie. “There are a lot of mixed groups. The Hoppers are a mixed group. The McKameys ae a mixed group. But we ae able to do a quartet style but still have a mixed group.”

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April 15, 2014

Smyrna Sermons


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