By Amy Ezell
Special to The Arkadelphian
Founded in 1836, Manchester United Methodist Church was one of the first Methodist churches established in southwest Arkansas. Sitting in Clark county about 9 miles from Arkadelphia, today’s Manchester UMC is different from yesterday’s church in many ways, but it still serves as a farming community hub and continues to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
“I’ve never served a small country church before,” shared Dr. Russell Breshears, who was appointed by Bishop Gary Mueller to Manchester and HSU Wesley in June 2021. “Manchester is out in the middle of the country – in the pine woods, and especially since Covid hit Arkansas, the people are so hungry for connection and opportunities to serve. The hospitality and service to others here is just unreal, as they learned from their ancestors before them.”
Today’s Manchester is made up of generations of farm families from this area, including some who work as EMTs and volunteer firefighters. Manchester UMC has a long history of being a hands-on mission church, while working hard is not a new concept for them.
“It was a little disconcerting one time, when several members got up in the middle of my sermon and left,” shared Breshears. “But I found out later that they were all answering a call for an emergency.”
A familiar story in rural churches, the members of Manchester never fail when it comes to helping a neighbor. Casseroles are delivered within an hour of finding out someone is sick. Chickens are fed when owners are sick or on vacation. Decks are built, yard work is done, and now you can add trash pick-up to the list of service to community by the good people of Manchester.
Lately, when passing through Manchester, you will have most certainly seen church members, Les Kent, Danny McClain, John Haltom and Rodney Grant picking up litter alongside Manchester Road. Approximately 50 bags of trash were picked up last week along this highway and Mr. McClain picked up more than 30 bags of the littered trash all by himself.
On Facebook, Mr. Kent shared, “At least for now Manchester Road is clean from its beginning all the way to the church! Mission accomplished! A small church doing big things!”
Indeed, Mr. Kent, you all are doing big things, indeed.
To learn more about Manchester UMC, you may join their Facebook group found here. Rev. Russell Breshears is the pastor and the church is located at 898 Manchester Road, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, 71923. Sunday School classes begin at 10am and Worship begins at 11 a.m on Sundays. All are welcome to be part of this church family!