LBC - A Brief History
The earliest record of the beginning of Lawson Baptist Church is the warranty deed that was filed February 15, 1912 in the Union County Circuit Clerk’s office and certified on February 22, 1912. Mrs. Mary J. Smith signed the deed December 1, 1911 “for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar.” The trustees of the “First Missionary Baptist Church” of Lawson, Arkansas were C.C.
Smith, J.M. Graves, and B.B. Graves.
The deed describes the original property as “commencing at the southwest corner of B.B. Graves residence lot in the town of Lawson, Union County, Ark. And measuring 420 feet north for a starting point, thence east from starting point 150 feet, thence north 150 feet thence, west 150 feet, thence south 150 feet to place of beginning all in S.W. one-fourth of NE one-fourth of Sect. 31, Township 17 South Range 13 West.”
Little is known of the first several years of Lawson Baptist’s history. The earliest church minutes began in 1929 and, for the most part, the entries into the minutes listed delegates at the annual meeting of Liberty Baptist Association.
It was not unusual for the church to elect a committee to decide and call a pastor for annual revival meetings, even if the church had a pastor on staff. However, most Pastors at Lawson, and many smaller Arkansas churches, were part-time at best.
Records indicate that in 1930 Lawson Baptist had 91 members and a pastor that preached on the second and fourth Sunday’s of the month. Pastors often served more than one church at a time. By 1935 a pastor was used four weeks out of the month with fifth Sunday’s going unfilled. By 1945, even though the church had 102 members, a pastor was in the pulpit again on the second and fourth Sundays. By 1949, with 92 members, Lawson Baptist had called a full-time pastor.
Rev. Thad D. Douglas of Urbana Baptist was called to preach at Lawson in May 1944 to preach on the second and fourth Sundays and in May 1945 Rev. G.M. Whittington was called from Urbana to preach on the second and fourth Sunday’s at noon.
Minutes of the early church also report the ordaining and licensing of men to the ministry in the first few years of existence. On July
23, 1938, Charles Nash and Ermon Webb preached and both were licensed to preach. On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, Nash was ordained at Lawson. Webb was ordained into the ministry at Lawson on May 6, 1939.
By the middle of the century, members of Lawson began to see the need to expand. In August 1950, members voted to build classrooms on the old church building. It was decided to begin work on the addition when $1,000 was raised and on Easter Sunday of 1951 a special offering was taken, giving the church the funds for proceeding with the expansion.
A vote to build a new sanctuary was passed in 1956. Donations were sought and evening offerings were dedicated to the building fund. In September of that year, plans were approved to start the building process and $3,000 was borrowed from a local bank
to assist the project. While the old sanctuary was razed and the new church was built, members met temporarily at the Lawson schoolhouse. The first meeting in the new church was held December 23, 1956. The church building was officially dedicated May 20, 1962.
In March of 1968, members voted unanimously to construct an adjacent building to the church for the purpose of a fellowship hall and additional Sunday School space. By the end of the year, using mostly labor from the church, the building was completed. In 2011, the fellowship hall was expanded by another 3,000 square feet.
The current Education Building was begun in 1995. The church voted to build the 2400 square foot facility by the current Education Building was begun in 1995. The church voted to build the 2400 square foot facility by securing a 10-year bank loan. That note was retired in only five years. The Nailbenders, a group of retired Christian men and women, spent several days in Lawson helping to construct the building. It was completed in 1996 housing offices and classrooms.
After starting the church with the original property where the church currently sits, more land was acquired through the years. One deed shows more land being sold to the church in 1929. In 1999, the property behind the church was donated. On March 21, 2003, the church was given a strip of land on the south side and in 2005, more land on the south side was given. In 2008, the land adjacent to the north side of the church was donated and much needed parking space was provided after timber on the property was cleared. Lawson Baptist then possessed land from the curve northwest of the church to Mt. Zion Road on the south, as well as a large piece of property across the street. The house across the street served as the parsonage for many years before being converted to a Youth House in 2010.
Prior to adding a baptistery in the 1950’s baptisms were held in other area churches and some were held in local ponds. For a brief period in the late 1970’s Lawson Baptist had a bus ministry after procuring an old school bus. According to records, as many as 30 riders were brought to Sunday School on the bus until continuous maintenance issues forced the church into selling it.
In 2017 the church voted to give away the parsonage. It had not been lived in for several years and needed much work on it. On October 28, 2017 it was moved to the Lawson end of Nick Springs road.
In recent years, Vacation Bible School has been the largest evangelistic endeavor undertaken at Lawson Baptist Church. In 2009, VBS had an average 106 students and workers. Several young people through the years have accepted Christ as their personal Savior during VBS, and in effect, several families have become engaged in the work of LBC. In 1991, seven professions of faith were recorded as a result of VBS.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Lawson Baptist had an active puppet ministry and took their skills on several summer mission trips.
Visits to such places as Flint, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gary, Indiana and Tazewell, Virginia were some of the destinations
of the group.
As is the case with so many churches, Lawson Baptist has had its share of ups and downs, but through it all. God has richly blessed the church.
A Snapshot of Lawson
Lawson’s beginnings date back to early 19th century. According to Juanita W. Green in The History of Union County Arkansas,
brothers Joel and Lawson Smith made the long trek from Wilcox County, Alabama in 1829 and settled in Union County to farm.
Joel put down roots seven miles south of El Dorado while Lawson made his home twelve miles south of El Dorado. The town of Lawson emerged and was named for the farmer by the people of Union County.