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Early Rison Churches
Rison Baptist, Rison Methodist, First Baptist Established Churches in the 1880s
The Rison Methodist Church was organized at the first quarterly conference of the Toledo Circuit January 7, 1888. Rev. Thomas H. Ware was the presiding elder and Rev. J. W. Berry was the pastor in charge. Members of the conference present were J. W. Berry, pastor, M. L. Hamilton, local elder, R. M. Hamilton, local preacher, and the following stewards: S. M. McGehee, Lee McLendon, W. I. Johnson, D. B. Niven, A. L. Cason and J. T. Renfrew.
The following churches composed the Toedo Circuit at the time: Double Wells, Mt. Carmel, Moore's Church, Concord, Wafford's Chapel, and Toledo.
J. T. Renfrew was elected as steward for the ensuing conference year, and J. M. McMurtrey was elected Sunday School superintendent for Rison. Mr. Renfrew served as secretary of the quarterly conference and Mr. McLendon was recording steward.
There were eight charter members of the Rison church: Dr. and Mrs. C. D. Niven, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. J. T. Renfrew, J. M. McMurtrey, and Mrs. Josephine Boyd
The parsonage was moved from Toledo to Rison during the pastorate ofRev. R. W. McKay.
The Rison Baptist Church was organized in 1886 with the following charter members: T. C. Duce, William Harper, Alice Harper, Fannie Harper, Mary Harvey, E. D. Tate, F. C. Tate, M. G. Tate, Cornelia Baggett, J. L. Baggett, Alice Baggett and Louisa McMurtrey. Some of these came from Bethel and Toledo churches to help this new church and as the membership increased they returned to their respective churches.
The church was organized in the school building, which was used by the church for a few years, and was on the same site as the present church building. Then a new church building was erected on a site which is now 302 Sycamore Street.
Some of the pioneer preachers who preached for the church were Rev. J. H. W Overton, Rev. T. J. Varnell and Rev. W H. Cash.
In June 1890 a Sunday School was organized with an enrollment of 50, and in July 1890 Rev. 0. M. Lucas was called as pastor for half time. The first church was dedicated October 12, 1890. The first clerk on record was I. B. Williams, Sr.
The First Baptist Church was organized around 1882-1890 as the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church. Several ministers served in the early years, including Reverends Curley, Hughes, Dave Crought, and Tommy Rogers. Under the leadership of Reverend Tommy Rogers, a new building was constructed. It was re-named the First Baptist Church. Reverend Tommy Rogers was a longtime minister in the area. He was credited with building three churches: First Baptist Church in Rison, Humble Hope on Mt. Elba Road, and Brewer Chapel. He was also an influential businessman in Rison and a school teacher.
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