____________________________________________________________________________ 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 beginning. 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.