During the year of 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated facilities were not illegal under the 14th amendment, provided those available for both races were of equal quality that is “separate but equal”, Plessy vs. Ferguson, and the population of the United States was 70,885,000. There also was a group of people meeting in a schoolhouse in Southwest Little Rock with a vision. This group of visionaries; Prince Bryant, Henry Love, Anita Longley, Emma Bryant, Wade Webster, Frank Murray and Martha Murray, came together and organized Longley Baptist Church with Rev. Phillip Pumphrey as the first pastor.
Many years later, progressive Idealism caused the church to experience a split between the regulars and the progressives. Longley Baptist Church met in two locations; the schoolhouse, with Bro. Sanders, and down the road in a brush arbor on Rev. J. E. Johnson’s property.
Rev. Henry Love was the second pastor of Longley. We will call him a biblical short distance runner because he served a short period of time.
Rev. James Hellum, the third pastor of Longley, served the Lord with gladness.
Rev. J. B. Brown, the fourth pastor of Longley, served a short period of time. We will call him the ordinator, because he ordained Rev. Dedmon. Under his leadership, the first choir, the “Do Re Mi,” was organized under the leadership of William Ross.
Rev. James McCullum, the sixth pastor of Longley, kept the spiritual flame aglow at Longley for two years.
Rev. H. E. Dedmon, the fifth pastor, was ordained by Rev. J. B. Brown in 1934. Rev. Dedmon pastored Longley for seven years before leaving. Rev. Dedmon returned to Longley in 1945. The Senior Choir was organized in November 1953 with Annie F. Malone as manager and pianist. The Pastor’s Aide Club was established during the 50’s with Sis. Cora Dedmon and Sis. Savannah Smith as chairpersons. The church opened its first bank account at Union National Bank in August 1958. In 1959, the first major fund-raiser for the building fund was held. And the Mission Ministry was organized by Sis. Mattie Dedmon. The Young Adult Choir was organized by Sis. Dorothy Robinson in 1960. The Junior Choir was organized by Sis. Annie Malone in 1965.
During the administration of Rev. H. E. Dedmon, the regulars and progressives re-united and the church moved to 65th street and Fourche. One of the high points of the membership re-uniting was the return of the church bell in 1941 by Bro. John Avery. The industrial revolution forced the church to move to another location on Fourche Road in 1956.
With 3200 borrowed dollars, and monies raised by the different auxiliaries, the new church was built at 3419 Avery Road at a cost of 7000 dollars. September 1961, the 54 members and their pastor, Rev. H. E. Dedmon, moved into their new house of worship. The mortgage was burned two years later, three years before the due date. Rev. Dedmon led the flock until 1969. He departed this life in June 1987.
Rev. Beal Ganaway, pastor number seven, came to Longley in 1969. During his tenure, the building fund continued with a baby contest which raised $1,259.05. Participants were; Phillip O’Donald, Cheryl Malone, Bethena Hampton, Edith Johnson and Cheryl Armstead with Bethena Hampton finishing as the winner.
Rev. Marvell Williams arrived in 1970. He was Longley’s eighth pastor. Under his administration the church grew from a Two Sunday Ministry to a Full Time Ministry. Our first Church Anniversary Celebration was held during his pastorate. Rev. Williams was called to pastor in Pine Bluff.
Rev. B. J. Edwards, Longley’s ninth pastor, came to Longley in 1975. Under his leadership the Male Chorus was formed with Bro. Frank Washington as president.
Rev. Mitchell L. Moore Sr., was elected as the tenth pastor of Longley in 1976. Ministries established during his tenure were:
1980 – The Witnessing Team; 1981 – The Sunshine Choir; 1982 – The Membership Committee; 1983 – The Mass Choir; 1985 – The Hospitality Committee; 1986 – Children’s Church; 1987 – The Youth Choir; 1988 – The Nursery and The Brotherhood; 1989 – The Gospel Choir; 1990 – The Drama Club; 1991 – The Young Adult Ministry and Women’s Guild; 1993 – The Married Couples
1994 – The Nurses Guild and The Christian Steppers; 1995 – The LBC Scholarship Fund; 1996 – The Eight O’clock Service, Family Life Ministry, Christian Education Dept., Single Adult, & The Angelics; 1997 – The Intermediate Usher Board; 1998 – The Eight O’clock Choir, The Angelettes, The PAL’s, and The Adult Drama
As the Lord continued to bless the ministry of our church, we found ourselves running out of space. On March 27, 1988, we left the former location of 3419 Avery Road and journeyed to 8715 Oman Road. The Mortgage was burned in 1995, several years prior to the due date.
Several major projects were undertaken during Rev. Moore’s pastorate, including the purchase of the edifice on Oman Road, paving the parking lot, the purchasing of two church vans, the roofing of the church and re-tiling the ceiling.
After the departure of Rev. Moore, Min. Curlee Robinson served as Interim Minister. During this time, the Hands of Praise were organized by Sis. Leonetta and Sis. Joyce Eatmon in January 1999.
Dr. G. Martin Young, was elected as the eleventh pastor of Longley in 1999. Under his administration the Vision, Mission, Purpose, and Goals were adopted and the Grief Ministry was established. As our membership grew, we continued to run out of space. Under Dr. Young’s leadership, the Lord blessed our congregation with a new edifice. This great project began with the purchase of 16 acres of property at 9900 Geyer Springs Rd, architectural plans were approved and construction began in 2001. We moved into the new edifice September 2003. After the completion of the new building, future plans included the implementation of a daycare facility and a senior citizens center.
After the departure of Dr. Young, Min. Curlee Robinson served as Interim Minister. LBC continued to grow as many changes took place, some very difficult, as the Lord began to mold and shape LBC body into His perfect will. Part of that change brought a new pastor.
Dwight D. Townsend Sr. was elected as the twelfth pastor of Longley in May 2005. Under the dynamic leadership of Pastor Townsend, Longley has experienced tremendous growth spiritually, economically and numerically. In the brief time Pastor Townsend has been our shepherd, he has continued our pattern of growth. Under his leadership acoustical panels were installed in the sanctuary, new choir robes were purchased, the church staff was reorganized, two persons were licensed to preach, Media Ministry and Pastoral Care Ministries were born; currently known as Care & Biblical Counseling Ministry providing spiritual care and nurturing to the congregation and community through its multiplicity of ministries. The components are Intercessors, Bereavement, Lay Counselors, Support Groups, and Mentors. The Trustee Board was established with elected members: Ethel Armstrong, JoAnn Benjamin, Elouise Hudson; appointed members: Nadine Fitzpatrick, James Franks, Lee Glenns, Don Moses, Johnnie Parks, and Steve Pigee. A Vision Statement, Mission, and church logo were adopted to better serve the needs of the church, and many new souls have joined our congregation. The Vision statement is Longley Baptist Church “Where Excellence is the Standard.” The Mission Statement and logo as explained by Pastor Townsend, represented the church commitment to:
Evangelizing to the lost – Reaching people with a relevant word.Equipping disciples – Revealing the knowledge that prepares for success.Exemplifying Christ – Representing the Savior with a lifestyle of excellence
Former Associate Ministers: Rev. S. R. Cann, Rev. Beaty, Rev. Amos Walton, Rev. Michael Payne, Rev. Michael Taylor, Rev. David Robinson, Rev. Cleveland Dedmon (who gave the first love offering to the Building Fund of thirty dollars and twenty-five cents), Rev. Andrew Cooney, Rev. Robert McCathern, Rev. Paul Pighee, Rev. Edwin Moragne, Rev. Roswald Murchison, Rev. Eugene Ester, Rev. Mitchell L. Moore, Jr., and Min. Gary Nathaniel, Min. Dana Henderson, Min. Charles Helms, Min. Randy Jones, Min. Todd Washington, Min. Vincent Dodson, Min. DeSean Jarrett, Min. Triney Graves, Min. Justin Casin, Min. DeWayne Brown, and Min. Corey Alexander served as Assistant/Youth Pastor.
The Present Associate Ministers are Rev. David Robinson, Min. Chester Sims, Min. Ray Mahomes, Min. Anthony Baker, Min. Ronald Johnson, Min. Lee Glenns, Min. Curlee Robinson, Min. Ronnie Lovelace, Min. Allen Clark, Min. Earl Graham, Min. Lloyd Worthy, Min. Earnest Girley, and Min. Sidney Milton serves as Youth Pastor.
Former Deacons: John Avery, Amos Walton, Sam Brown, Emmett Malone, James Armstead, Preacher Drain, Sam Dedmon, Hosie Mack, Maurice Meek, David Robinson, Jr., Frank Rowland, Bob Avery, Otis Grundy, Norman Gilcrest, Richard Cooney, Chalk Mitchell, Roy Milton, Curlee Robinson, Warren Hampton, Freddie Floyd, Bert Zinamon, and Henry Robinson Sr.
The Present Deacons: Henry Robinson, Jr., Johnnie Parks, James Franks, Spencer Davis, Steve Pigee, Greg Harris, Richard Brown, Don Moses, Donny Green, John Hannon, Darrell Pumphrey, Michael Edwards, Barry Garland, Maurice Hampton, Ron Haygood, Carl Silas, and Coral Smith.
Former Mothers: Sister Charlotte Brown, Carrie Cooney, Jeanette Rowland, Cora Dedmon, Hannah Smith, Ida Avery, Zenobia Mack, Mattie Dedmon, Savannah Smith, Serberlia Avery, Ve-Ester Armstead, Ernestine Longley, Sarah Emory, and Nona Talley.
The Current Mothers are Sis. Dorothy Deadmon, Dorothy Robinson, Beatrice McBride, Clydia Monroe, and Ethel Townsend.
The Longley Baptist Church has grown from its eight person beginning, to 52 persons, in 1962, to 200+ members in 1988, to 900+ in 2001, to our present membership of over 2600 persons. Our physical structure has changed through the years, but Longley still remains a body of baptized believers in Christ.
We realize that there is still much that need to be done and will be done but we are very thankful to the Lord for all He has allowed to be done thus far and for guiding us every step of the way. It is our sincere prayer that, in God’s time, Pastor and People, Church and Community, will truly be a church “Where Excellence is the Standard “!