One Hundred and Fifteen Years of Continous Service

Three years before the state of Arkansas was born the church of Christ       
meeting at Delight, Arkansas came into existence. Andrew Jackson was         
president of the United States at that time, the beginning of the Civil War  
was twenty eight years in the future, the first steam locomotive had made    
its maiden run from Baltimore to Ellicott City, Maryland two years before.   
The friction match, the sewing machine and the telegraph were unknown, oxen  
still pulling the plow and the wagon, the old flint lock rifle was the       
constant companion of the settler, and Indians still roamed the hills and    
valleys of our state. The old Antioch church of Christ was established       
under the preaching of Elijah (Uncle 'Lige) Kelley in April 1833.            
This is one of the oldest, if not the very oldest, local congregations of    
primitive Christians with an unbroken record in the state, nation or world.  
Six years after the determination of the restoration movement to go back to  
New Testament ground in all things this church was born. It is extremely     
doubtful that another congregation of this age can be found that has         
remained true to the principle of "speaking where the Bible speaks and       
remaining silent where the Bible is silent." For one hundred and fifteen     
years this church has earnestly contended for the faith which "was once      
delivered unto the saints." The descendants of the men and women who banded  
together in that day so long ago to keep house for the Lord are still        
keeping house for him with the help of others who have come to this          
beautiful little Arkansas village of the Delight-ful name. The same gospel   
is preached, the same worship is offered to God and the same Christ is       
honored that manifested the work and worship of this congregation in its     
Elijah Kelley, the minister who first preached the Jerusalem gospel in the   
wilds of Arkansas, was born in Tennessee in 1800, moved with his parents to  
Illinois when a small lad and came with them to what is now the town of      
Delight in the year 1815. There were no schools and few neighbors in the     
section of the state to which the Kelleys had come. 'Lige was an ambitious   
young man, one who was not content to grow to manhood without an education,  
so he was sent to the state of Alabama to school. There he came in contact   
with those who preached the gospel in the same manner as it was proclaimed   
in the first century of the Christian era. He became obedient to its         
teaching in 1824 and was added to the New Testament church by the Lord of    
heaven. (Acts 2:47). He returned to his paternal home after his years of     
school in the east and began the proclamation of the Gospel of the Son of    
God. His labors were fruitful to the extent that in April of 1833 ...        
(there was) ... perfected the first organization of primitive Christians     
perhaps in the state.                                                        
The list of charter members as taken from the records of the secretary of    
the old Antioch church of Christ is as follows: Ann Brueer, Sarah Blocker,   
Elizabeth Blocker, Margaret Bagwell, Minnie Bolt, Serilda Brewer, A.B.       
Clingman, Ann Clingman, John Carpenter Jr., Elizabeth Carpenter, John        
Carpenter, Alexander Clingman, Jane Carpenter, Sarah Carpenter, Louisa       
Carpenter, William T. Dickson, Nancy Dickson, Poly S. Davis, Susan Davis,    
Leroy Dickson, Ann Davis, Nancy Dossey, Ashley Dickson, Nancy Dickson,       
Elizabeth Green, Jeremiah Green, Mahala Griffin, John Hoofman, Mary M.       
Hoofman, Phebie Johnston, Martha Johnson, Micajo Johnson, Bellinda Jordan,   
John Johnston, William Kelley, Elijah Kelley, Elizabeth Kelley, Rebecca      
Kelley, Giles Kelley, Robert M. Kelley, Wesley Kelley, Sarah Kelley, Elijah  
Kelley Jr., Elizabeth Kelley, Margrett Kelley, Nancy Kelley, Catharine       
Kelley, Elizabeth Kelley, Thomas Love, Mary McLaughlin, Ulila Mansfield,     
Martha Mobley, Barbary Mobley, Margarett Jane Mobley, Harriet Samuels,       
Nancy Wilson, James Ward, Milly Ward, Jefferson T. Wood, Susannah Wood,      
Rebecca White, Jordan White, Elizabeth White, and Elizabeth Jane White.      
The hand of Elijah Kelley penned the record of this church for more than     
half century. His preaching founded it. For two generations he watched the   
sons and daughters of his flock grow to manhood and womanhood, marry, rear   
children, obey the gospel, die. Finally his voice was stilled in death and   
the hand that kept so diligently the records of the church so dear to his    
heart laid down the pen to take up the harp. Elijah Kelley died in 1884.     
His work lives on. What a rich heritage these simple folk of the past has    
handed down to this commuity, state and nation! Eternity alone can evaluate  
their influence for good.                                                    
A building of logs was erected near the present meeting house of the church. 
This was late in 1833 or in the year 1834. For a time this housed a school.  
The second building of this congregation was a type known as a box building. 
It had no studdings, and was not ceiled either on the sided or overhead.     
This building was torn down to make room for the railroad. Another was       
erected on the small branch east of the present building. While this         
building was being erected a tornado destroyed the unfinished building.      
Undaunted the work was begun anew and pushed to a successful finish. This    
building was also damaged by storm and for a number of years had to be       
propped up with timbers. This building was replaced by the splendid meeting  
house that now housed the church of Christ in Delight.                       
Many faithful gospel preachers, a list too numerous to mention, have labored 
with this church. Many of them have crossed the great divide. Their labors   
live. May the work that has been of such long duration and of such splendid  
fruition continue to bear fruit as the years continue to unfold toward that  
day when our Lord shall return to gather his people unto him.                
                               Geo. B. Curtis                                
The Gospel Light, July 29, 1948, Delight, Arkansas, pages 2-3.               
HTML file and design by David Kelley, 1997. All rights reserved.