Second Baptist Church began meeting on January 25, 1905, as Sweet Hill Mission, a ministry of Arkadelphia’s First Baptist Church. At its conception an average of forty persons attended Sunday School. By August, seven months after its establishment as a mission, Sweet Hill asked to break its ties with First Baptist and begin its own work. At that time, Sweet Hill Baptist Church consisted of twenty-three members.
H. H. Thomas, a Ouachita College ministerial student, came as part-time pastor when the church organized. Under his leadership, Sweet Hill Baptist conducted a November revival resulting in fifty-five conversions and forty additions to the church. By March, 1906, the church had about 100 members, four deacons, and six Sunday School teachers, a marked increase in size within less than half a year of its organization.
In 1905 and 1906 Sweet Hill became involved in associational and state convention work beginning an unbroken association.
Between 1907 and 1911 four different part-time pastors served the church. In 1912 Dr. Noble Townsend, a local physician and ordained minister, became the first full-time pastor of the church.
Sweet Hill had several different pastors in the ensuing years; some were ministerial students from Ouachita College. In 1922 and 1923 the church added Sunday School rooms to the auditorium and built the first parsonage.
When the Southern Baptist Convention began promoting the Cooperative Program in 1925, Sweet Hill Baptist Church was one of only 150 Arkansas Baptist State Convention churches adopting the program. In the same year, under the leadership of Pastor Taylor Stanfill, the church completely remodeled the auditorium and re-roofed the church building, making it “one of the nicest sanctuaries in Arkadelphia.” (Arkansas Baptist, August 20, 1925).
On September 19, 1928, Sweet Hill voted to change its name to Second Baptist Church. For its first twenty-three years Sweet Hill Baptist had considered itself a community church, but now the church was expanding its ministry to include the entire city of Arkadelphia.
Second Baptist launched a building program in 1938 to erect an educational building and to update and enlarge the auditorium during the pastorate of Sidney Wiles. From 1937-1941 Second experienced considerable growth. Church membership increased 35 percent. Sunday School enrollment and average attendance had increased more than fifty percent. Four Vacation Bible Schools had been held with an average enrollment of 140. Gifts to church causes had greatly increased and the pastor’s salary had increased forty percent. A church library ministry began in 1940 and a church bus ministry began in 1941.
Under the leadership of Stanley Cooper, the church expanded twice, in 1949 with another annex added on to the auditorium to provide more Sunday School space and in 1935 with a new educational building.
In 1952 Second restarted a mission, originally begun in 1915, in the northwestern part of town, named Park Hill Mission. It is now Park Hill Baptist Church.
Carl Kluck came as pastor of Second Baptist in February, 1960, and continued until December, 1990, when he retired. Brother Kluck led the church in three large building expansions. The first, completed in late 1960, provided a new nursery and educational space for three Sunday School departments. By March, 1968, a new auditorium that would seat 375, provide a choir room, church offices and pastor’s study was completed. The final expansion, the C. W. Kluck Educational Building, a 10,000 square foot addition which provides nursery, preschool, children, college, and library space was dedicated in March, 1988. The church raised $250,000 of the $385,000 required to finish the building.
Dr. Shelby Cowling began his pastorate at Second Baptist in 1991. He served from June, 1991 until February, 1998. During that time, Second expanded its facilities, properties, and ministries. A March, 1997 tornado caused extensive damage to the church buildings and surrounding community. Major repair and renovation was done to the sanctuary, fellowship hall and youth rooms. After the tornado, Second was able to acquire several lots which are projected to meet future needs of providing adequate parking and new facilities.
In 1998, Second was debt free. The youth and college ministries were thriving numerically and spiritually. Brother Jerre Hassell served as interim pastor from June of 1998 to April of 2000 until the church called John Blase from Stephens, Arkansas to be the new pastor. His first day in the pulpit was April 16, 2000. Under Bro. John, the church started a building project of a new sanctuary costing 2.4 million dollars. A more contemporary style of worship and music was also instituted by Bro. John and staff. In 2003, Bro. John was called to a church outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Shortly after, in 2004, Faron Rogers was called as pastor and started his ministry on October 24. Faron moved from DeQueen, Arkansas First Baptist Church where he pastored for over 15 years. Faron served at Second for just under 3 years.
Stan Parris was called as pastor and began his ministry in 2008. He came from Immanuel Baptist in Little Rock where he ministered for 10 years. In 2013, Brother Stan led the "Building Future Generations" vision, which involved erecting a Children's Building and re-modeling existing space for students. Brother Stan served at Second until his retirement in 2016.
Louie Heard was called as pastor in August 2017. Pastor Louie came to Second from Grace Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He is originally from Hot Springs, AR and is a graduate of OBU and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His vision for a clear, church-wide discipleship plan (the Crowd, Cluster Groups & Core Groups) was introduced and implemented in 2020. Under his leadership, Second aims to uphold biblical values as we build relationships and facilitate environments that grow believers in their faith and entrust the gospel to the next generation.
We're thankful for our history, but we know our story is still being written. If you haven't already, come and be a part of the story that God is developing at Second!