December 10, 2017

 


 

SUNDAY WORSHIPJoin us for worship this Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

 

Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:00 a.m. We meet in fellowship after worship for juice, coffee and snacks.

A nursery is provided for children to age four.

 


 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Presbyterians

Find out about the Presbyterian Church and the history of this wonderful organization on our What is the Presbyterian Church page.

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Church History

WILLARD-MT ZION HISTORY

 

On September 7, 1879 a group of people living near Walnut Spring, now known as Murray Spring (located a few hundred feet northwest of the present church) met in the local schoolhouse to organize a Presbyterian church.  Founding members were Charles, Elizabeth, Gilbert, James and Martha Hughes; Charles, Sarah, Oscar and Anna Farmer; and N.A. and Eliza McCoy.  Calling their new congregation the “Grand Prairie Presbyterian Church,” they continued to meet in the schoolhouse, served monthly by the Reverend E.M. Halbert, until a church building was completed and dedicated in November, 1887.  This was the first church building in Willard.


The congregation grew slowly through the years, and when on April 5, 1903, the church name was changed to Willard Presbyterian Church, there were still fewer than 20 members.  By the 1920's, the church had grown large enough to undertake remodeling the building and landscaping the grounds, and by the end of the decade the annual budget was $500.  The women of the church had sufficient numbers to organize a Missionary Society, which evolved into today’s Presbyterian Women.  The descendants of many of those early members are still an important part of the church family.

In 1952, the original building was expanded with the addition of Sunday School rooms and a dining hall, and a new heating system was installed.  That same year the first Board of Deacons was organized and ordained, and they undertook the repair and re-siding of the older part of the building in 1954, as well as sanctuary improvements in 1957.  A larger front porch was built in 1963.  Finally, four additional classrooms, a nursery and a pastor’s study were added in 1967.  The “old church” had now become the structure that many members recall.

The congregations of Willard, Ash Grove and Mt. Zion in Cave Spring decided in 1961 to form one parish, with the same minister serving all three churches.  That busy individual held 9:45 services in Willard, 11:00 services in Ash Grove, and evening services in Cave Spring.   In 1969 the Cave Spring congregation merged with Willard, and the present Willard-Mt. Zion church was created.  That same year the Cave Spring church building, built in 1869 by a congregation that had been formed in 1839 (the oldest Presbyterian congregation west of St. Louis), was dedicated as a memorial by the presbytery.   In 1973, the Ash Grove Presbyterian Church merged with the Ash Grove Methodist Church, and Willard-Mt. Zion became independent once again.

The church continued to grow until it again outgrew its existing facilities.  A new building was planned, and land purchased on a Highway AB hilltop quite near the original site of the church’s founding.  There are further interesting coincidences in regard to the present church property: it is part of a larger tract willed to the church in the 1950's, but because the will was not properly completed, it could not be executed. In addition, the small cemetery on the southwest corner of the property, donated to the church by the Hughes family in 1922, contains the graves of some of the original founding members.  The new church had thus, in a way, returned to its old roots.  It was dedicated on Palm Sunday, March 24, 1991.

The Willard community continued to grow in the following years, and the congregation did so as well, extending a warm and friendly welcome to all.  The Session was expanded from nine to twelve elders, as responsibilities increased.  An active Mens’ Group was formed and undertook a number of maintenance and outdoor projects, joining the Presbyterian Women in aiding the church and the community.  Further challenges and changes lie ahead, however, just as they did for the founders in 1879.

Willard-Mt. Zion celebrated its 125th anniversary in September, 2004

The congregation looks forward prayerfully, remembering that “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.”

Submitted by Stephanie Oneal

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