December 17, 1969 was a historical date for the congregation of the Van Buren United Pentecostal Church. On that date, Pastor C. J. Rashall, trustees Norman Garner and Loyd Emery signed the warranty deed for property at 804 Pointer Trail.
A church building on that site at that particular time was only a dream. Prior to that time, burdened men of God, from the Arkansas District, supplied preachers and used Van Buren as a preaching point with the hope of establishing a work in the city. Through man's eyes it might have appeared that this effort was unsuccessful. However, through God's eye the seeds were planted.
Eventually someone would answer the call to start a United Pentecostal Church. That someone was Bro. Calvin Rashall from the Texas District. Bro. Rashall met Bro. Robert Bennett at the Texas camp meeting in 1968. Bro. Bennett was pastoring in Siloam Springs, Arkansas and was the sectional presbyter at the time. He was in the Texas District to express his burden and desire to find someone to come to Van Buren and start a church. Bro. Bennett had been one of those who had previously come to Van Buren and held some services. His desire was to have a permanent church in the city rather than just utilizing it as a preaching point. His prayers were answered and on August 9, 1968 Bro. Rashall, his wife, and his one year old daughter moved to Arkansas.
Just an interesting side note of another event that occurred in 1968 at that same Texas District camp ground - On June 5th, 1968 a twelve year old boy, who attended the Groves, Texas United Pentecostal Church would receive the Holy Ghost during youth camp. On June 6th, at camp, that same boy would be first in line to be baptized in Jesus name.
That young boy had an uncle named Clifford Herrin who just happened to be the uncle, through marriage, of Calvin Rashall. Bro. Herrin would later preach a revival for Calvin Rashall in Van Buren, AR.
That young boy, Steve Davis, who had no knowledge of Van Buren, Arkansas or of Calvin Rashall would assume pastoral leadership of the church on October 4th, 1981.
Reverting back to Bro. Rashall now. They moved to Van Buren in August 1968 and their second daughter was born here. The Rashall's rented a house and held services in their living room. After awhile, they were able to rent an old stone building on the eastside of town. After about a year, the property was bought on Pointer Trail. Bro. Rashall and his dad, Grady Rashall, would work many hours clearing debris from the lot.
Bro. Rashall drew plans for a building and had them approved by the city but did not get to follow through with his dream. He soon felt led to take a church in Spartenburg, South Carolina. He did however lay the groundwork so others could build the church he'd dreamed of in the city of Van Buren.
Shortly after Bro. Rashall's departure, Bro. Donald O'Bryan became the pastor. He and his family moved to Van Buren in November 1970. They continued having church in the same rented building. After awhile, Bro. O'Bryan's wife spurred him into action. She had been praying and thinking about the status of the church. She knew the church had property and thought it preposterous for the congregation to continue renting. Bro. O'Bryan felt the same and they decided it was time to build! He stepped out by faith and with hard work, as well as the blessing of God, the program moved along. Other pastors helped in the labor, such as Bro. Delbert Anderson, who pastored in Ozark at the time.
In November 1971, the Van Buren United Pentecostal Church had a home of their own at 804 Pointer Trail. The block building was approximately eighty feet by twenty-four feet. Before Bro. O'Bryan resigned as pastor in September 1975, families were added to the congregation. The Emery and Garner families had been there from the start of the church but the Looney, Hale, and Nicholson families as well as Sis. Turner, Bonnie Wilhite and boys joined. Bro. O'Bryan used bus ministry as one of the tools of evangelism. They also promoted passing out tracts.
Another interesting footnote, one of those tracts (church invitation) is still in circulation nearly thirty years later. Bro. Davis, the current pastor, was working at the local school when he spotted a Bible on the desk of the Assistant Principal, Debbie Faubus. He thumbed through the Bible and was shocked to see a tract saying "You are invited" with her name written at the top. On the back of the tract was the church name and location with Bro. O'Bryans name as pastor. Mrs. Faubus almost thirty years later would visit the church for the new sanctuary dedication service in May 2001.
Bro. Wilket followed Bro. O'Bryan as pastor but stayed only a short time. After he left, Bro. Jessie Nickell took over in his place. It is believed he pastored for six months. During his time he improved the interior of the church building. He added electrical wall switches so the lights would no longer have to be turned on at the breaker box. He also added rooms near the platform and improved the paneling on the side walls.
After Bro. Nickell resigned, the church was without a pastor. In the absence of a pastor the church shut down. Where once the glory of God had been present to heal, deliver, and save, it now seemed His glory had departed. Surrounding churches took in the former members of the Van Buren United Pentecostal Church. All that remained of 804 Pointer Trail to indicate it had at one time been someone's dream was an empty building. However, God was not through.
His spirit began to stir and started searching for a willing servant. A young family was on their first evangelistic tour. It had taken them into Michigan, Indiana, and finally into Arkansas. While in Arkansas, God began to deal with their hearts about pastoring and the town of Van Buren got a hold of them. Previous efforts by wonderful men of God had already laid the foundation for a work to be established in Van Buren. Property had been purchased and a small cinder block building was already owned by the United Pentecostal Church organization. It seemed past efforts were in vain and there was talk by some officials to sell the property. It took three months of seeking permission to re-open the doors. It was with great joy that Rev. Larry Talent and family finally received the keys and blessing of Bro. James Lumpkin (the District Superintendent). They were ready to proceed with the work of God in Van Buren.
The property at the time was in terrible condition. Tall weeds covered the place and a bush hog was used in order to get in the door. Trash had blown up around the building making the place a real eye sore to the neighborhood. Vandals had knocked out windows and glass and debris lay strewn over the bare concrete floors. The Talent's had little to work with, but they cleaned, mowed, and repaired so they could get ready for their first service. There were seven in attendance for that service Sunday morning, October 9th , 1977.
As time went by, other improvements were made. Carpet, window treatments, air conditioning, wall paper, and more was done to better the appearance. After much time and work the church building was still not a beautiful edifice, but it was sufficient for the glory of the Lord to revisit the sanctuary. That little building served not only as a church but as a school classroom for Faith Center Academy. For a time, it served as both of these as well as a parsonage. All night prayer meetings were hosted under that roof.
With Bro. Talent's evangelistic preaching and a desire to reach the lost, souls would be added to the church. Families would move in to assist him in his efforts. During his pastorate the following families claimed 804 Pointer Trail as their place of worship; Branham, Jones, Hayes, Parks, McVay, Casey, Wing, Hill, Hagler, Young, Gallagher, Pellow, and others. Many visitors would come through the doors. Unfortunately, the economy would began to decline and families would leave the area seeking jobs elsewhere.
One evening while in prayer with another brother, Bro. Talent and the man looked out the window toward Pointer Trail. They began to pray in the spirit and claimed a beautiful new building for the Glory of God.
Bro. Talent would dream of a new sanctuary but God would send someone else to actually construct it. Bro. Talent would resign the church in September of 1981 and Bro. Steve Davis would be elected.
Bro. Davis' first service as pastor would be October 4, 1981. There were fifteen people present on that Sunday morning. It was a smooth transition between pastorates. The church would remain open and a new era began.
For several years the church continued to struggle. However, low attendance did not affect the move of the Spirit.
God was gracious and blessed the church with His presence. The church, although small in number, was great in faith. Bro. Davis set a goal to have $1000 in the treasure after one year of pastoring. The church was on pace to do this. After the money was saved, the church intended to buy a bus. Everything was on pace until Bro. Davis attended a ministers Sheaves for Christ kick-off meeting at Northside U.P.C. At that rally, it was pointed out that on the foreign field it averaged $27 to win a soul. Bro. Davis felt a quickening in his spirit. In man's eyes the Van Buren Church might have been averaging in the teens or twenties in attendance, but Bro. Davis calculated that in God's eyes the Van Buren Church attendance could increase by 50 people if the church could give enough money so 50 people could be swept into the Kingdom on the missions field. He committed to giving $1350 to Sheaves for Christ. This seemed an unrealistic goal. The church had given $25 to Sheaves for Christ the previous year, but this new pastor from Texas decided to step beyond the realm of evidence and walk through the door of faith. Bro. Davis felt that other ministers in the room were thinking he was making a pledge based on emotion, but they could not know that it went beyond emotion and a competitive spirit. God had spoke to his heart! When Bro. Davis informed the church of his commitment they now knew that the goal of $1000 in the treasure was just a fading dream. The church pulled together and went to work. The church at that time did not have a youth group. The older folks acted like they were in the youth group and they labored through the summer. When it was all said and done, God did it.
In September of 1982, the small fund had accumulated to $1400 and Sheaves for Christ had placed the Van Buren Church in the top 25 churches in Arkansas for giving. The next month, the first anniversary month there was also a thousand dollars in the treasure! God honors faith and works! The miracle did not stop there. Later during the holidays, Bro. Davis was visiting his parents in Port Neches, Texas. The phone rang and Dennis Cooper, Sunday School superintendent in Jacinto City, Texas church was trying to locate Bro. Davis. A business person (Mr. Swinney) in Houston felt led to donate a school bus to the church in Van Buren. Bro. Davis, while assisting pastor in Jacinto City, had preached Mr. Swinney's mother's funeral. God moved on Mr. Swinney, and he responded. Later, Bro. Davis and his dad drove a big school bus over 450 miles through the mountains and snow.
The Sheaves for Christ drive contained two of several points that would be a consistent mark of Bro. Davis' ministry. One of those marks would be sacrificial giving to the work of God through the various departments of the United Pentecostal Church. Another mark would be a love for missions work. Both home and foreign missions have been the recipients of blessings from the Van Buren United Pentecostal Church. On one occasion, the Van Buren U.P.C. took on fifteen partners in mission in one service. Through the years thousands of dollars have been given toward missions. Bro. Davis feels with all his heart that God has blessed the Van Buren Church because it has been involved with the heartbeat of God - missions.