Our History

Maturing Years: 1983-1998

A member of the church, Dr. Bill Flynt, served as interim pastor in addition to his duties as Pastoral Counselor at the Ozark Guidance Center. On May 16, 1983, Rev. Layne E. Smith became pastor of the church and served for the following 15 years.

Bible study and the implementation of its message in the lives of the congregation continued to be the focus of the church program. The annual series of bringing notable theologians for in-depth Bible study was continued.

Some notable actions and accomplishments that occurred during this time are:

  • The employment of part-time Ministers of Youth throughout the period and a full-time Minster of Education/Music, Lynn Packwood, who served from 1994-1996. During his ministry the church began a hand bell choir;
  • The raising of funds for, and building, much needed additional space. An attractive narthex, worship center, and some educational space were ready for use by April 23, 1989.

The new worship center made it possible to convert the original one into a fellowship hall and the baptistry into a small make-shift kitchen;

  • In the summer of 1996, the Pastor was granted a month’s sabbatical that he and his family spent in England. After spending a two-week vacation traveling around in the county, Rev. Smith exchanged pulpits (and homes) with Rev. John Tattersall, Pastor of the Burton Latimer Baptist Church in Northamptonshire, England. The experience has provided the basis for continued interaction with a British “sister” church;
  • Under Rev. Smith’s leadership, Rolling Hills was instrumental in bringing other area congregations together to form Habitat for Humanity of Fayetteville and Cooperative Emergence Outreach;
  • The book: God’s People of Vision, A History of Rolling Hills Baptist Church was released on April 6, 1997, as a part of a year-long observance of the church’s 25th Anniversary of becoming a constituted church; [Copies of this book are still available in the church office.]

Until 1985, the church had maintained the usual relationships with the Southern Baptist Convention groups. A decisive change occurred after October 14, 1985, when the Washington-Madison Baptist Association “withdrew fellowship” from Rolling Hills, primarily because it had ordained a woman to serve as a deacon a few weeks before. Since 1990 the church and its members have been active in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas. Rev. Smith and Lenthon Clark served three-year terms on the national CBF Coordinating Council and in 1994-1995 Rev. Smith served as Moderator of the CBFA.

As the church began to look forward to the 21st Century, an eight-member Visioning Team led the congregation in seeking God’s call for the future of Rolling Hills. The Team developed a plan that the church is still refining and implementing.

On July 5, 1998, Layne Smith preached his last sermon as pastor. Dr. Mike Graves, Professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, served as Interim Preaching Minister until July 11, 1999. During this interim period, the fellowship hall was renovated and a kitchen installed in the rooms south of the hall that originally had been a nursery, offices, and later classrooms.

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