LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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Chapter 6

 

 

THE HOLINESS MOVEMENT IN ARKANSAS

 

 

Among the pioneer preachers in the state of Arkansas was Mrs. Amanda Coulson, whose work laid mostly in northern Arkansas, in the days that holiness and women preachers were scarce, and there was much prejudice against women preachers.

She was sanctified March 8, 1886, and was called to preach at once, but did little active preaching until July, 1890. When she told her father of her call to preach he became infuriated, and would from that day have nothing to do with her. He said that a woman preacher in his home would bring disgrace on the whole family, and ruin the church. But the call was on her, and it was preach or backslide and lose her soul, so she chose to disobey her father and answer the call to preach. Her first meeting was at Batavia, Ark., near Harrison. Here God gave her a great meeting, but persecution most terrific broke out against her, and it was commonly reported that she had murdered her husband, and deserted her children, and other stories too dark to be mentioned, but in the midst of all this a mighty revival broke out and many souls were converted, and some sanctified. Holiness was a new doctrine in that country, and preachers and people were mightily stirred up. She conducted meetings at Black Oak, Zions Hill, Green Forest, Carrollton, and Harrison.

She had never seen a book on theology, but God gave her power, and people were saved by hundreds, and many sanctified under her ministry. At Belifonte God was giving a glorious revival, when a certain pastor preached a sermon in defense of innocent infants, declaring that the preaching of holiness and the doctrine of carnality would damn every infant in America if it were true, and that the woman preacher ought to be drummed out of the country; so one night the march was started, and an egg shower was promptly administered to the woman preacher, but the power of God prevailed and scores fell into the altar and prayed through, and some fell under the power and laid for hours, to come through shouting the praises of God. The power was so great that it was told on her that she carried a bottle of “holy water,” and that one drop of that would knock ordinary people flat.

From one place to another she went preaching holiness and God blessed her labors mightily, but she soon was awakened to the fact that her young converts were not cared for, but on the contrary were abused, and spoken against by pastors in charge, so at Valley Springs a holiness church was built and dedicated to the holiness people, as no church organization was effected, and that church stands today to represent that work. For thirty years she and her husband, Rev. D. M. Coulson, have stood nobly by the cause of holiness, and were among the very first to feel the necessity of organization to conserve the work.

Together they have worked in the Master’s vineyard and preached in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, much of the time in pastoral work.

In 1895 holiness was preached in southern Arkansas by Rev. Will Scott, a Methodist Protestant minister. These meetings were in Prescott and vicinity. He was assisted by Rev. Daniel Aurey. In 1893 Rev. David Holmes, pastor on the Emmet circuit, preached holiness and the people called him “that crazy preacher.” He secured the assistance of Dr. W. A. Dodge, of Atlanta, Ga., for a meeting which resulted in a great revival and many were sanctified, among them Brother Dean, B. F. Steele, and Mrs. Duke.

In 1896 a mass meeting of the holiness people was called and the old Main Springs campmeeting was established, with a Holiness Campmeeting Association formed for its promotion, and the following trustees were elected: B. F. Steele, president; George Terry, secretary; R. R. Garland, J. B. Hannah, J. T. Coulter, William Moore, John Loudermilk, James Loudermilk, and Wilborne Honea.

This camp secured Mrs. E. J. Rutherford and Rev. Sam Franks as the preachers for the first camp, Mrs. Rutherford going back each year for ten years, with other evangelists. This has been one of the noted camps of the South.

In the early days, Rev. W. J. Walthall, a Baptist preacher, was gloriously sanctified, and began at once to preach holiness, to the utter confusion of his own people. He was invited to Piney Grove church, seven miles from Prescott, to assist Pastor Kelley in a revival. In this meeting Rev. Mr. Kelley and two-thirds of his members were sanctified, and Kelley began to conduct regular holiness meetings in his church. This stirred those who did not get the blessing, and the opposers to holiness declared that Rev. Mr. Kelley was no longer a Baptist and asked him not to preach in the church any more. He gave no heed, but went on with his revivals. They cited him to trial, and when the vote was taken two-thirds of the church voted to retain Kelley in the church. They then brought in a minority report, declaring that all holiness professors were not Baptists, and ordered them not to use the house any more. When the next Sunday came they found the house securely nailed up, and properly posted against the use of the house by the holiness people. Rev. Mr. Kelley proceeded to pry the door open and the crowd went in and he preached and the altar was full of seekers. The next Sunday the house was nailed again by the anti-holiness crowd, and an injunction filed in the district court against them using the house any more, and a suit for possession of the house was instituted, and a lawyer employed.

Judge J. O. A. Bush offered his services as an attorney free to the holiness people. He was not a Christian then. He bought some standard holiness books, to learn what the doctrine of holiness was, and read himself under conviction, and in the meantime attended a Methodist revival and was converted. He also bought some books on Baptist theology, to learn the doctrine of the Baptist Church. Pendleton’s “Manual of Baptist Churches” was introduced, and when the jury returned the verdict, they gave the holiness people the use of the church, declaring them the lawful Baptists, according to their own theology.

This so enraged the anti-holiness Baptists that they went out and built another church close by. Rev. W. J. Walthall organized the holiness people into the Holiness Baptist church. This is the church that refused to go into the church union at Rising Star, Texas, when the Church of Christ and the Independent Holiness church united.

While conducting a campmeeting at Main Springs, the writer was called to hold a meeting about sixteen miles from Prescott, at a church usually known as Cold Corner, on account of the lack of spiritual fire. The meeting was set for the month of January, and the weather was clear and cold. The preacher was met at Prescott. The church had been swept, and a big lot of pine knots hauled for fuel, and oil bought and the lamps well filled, and all went to supper nearby, but on returning to the church they found it locked, and all windows securely nailed down, and a great placard tacked on the door bearing this inscription, “No Denomination Allowed the Use of This House Other Than its Owner. Signed, Preacher in Charge.”

About two hundred people had gathered for the first meeting that night and no place for the services. The preacher said, “I am spoiling to preach, and if I knew how far their land went, I would get just outside and preach, anyhow. A big-hearted Arkansawyer stepped up and said, “Parson, that is my land just over the road, preach all you want to. The invitation was accepted, lanterns were hung in trees, a big circle of pine knot fires surrounded the company, the service went on, and at the altar call four members of that church kneeled at a pine log and got wonderfully sanctified. That big Arkansawyer came up at the close and said, “Parson, I am building a new house just across the field, and can easily take out the partition and make a room 16 x 32 feet, and if you will, you may have it for a meeting house.” Again his offer was accepted, and the revival went on ten days, which resulted in over fifty saved or sanctified. On the last day the same big Arkansawyer stepped up front and said, “I want a holiness church here in my neighborhood, and I have plenty of big pine trees for the lumber, that I will donate.” Another arose and said, “I will cut the saw stocks.” Another said, “I will haul them to the mill.” Another said, “Bring them to my mill and I will saw them free.” In a short time they had the church up, and it stands today as a monument of faith and works. The church that was nailed up soon was abandoned, and no preaching nor prayermeetings were held there, while there stands a nice little white Pentecostal Nazarene church today, just across the road, where that first night’s service was held, and at this writing Rev. Albert Lambert is pastor.