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The Arkansas Christadelphian Bible School was founded in Martinville (Faulkner County) in 1923 as a two-week summer Bible school for Christadelphians. The organizers were Ben Scroggin and S. O. Jones of Biscoe (Prairie County), Oscar L. Dunaway and Charles Martin of Conway (Faulkner County), and J. S. Martin and J. R. Frazer of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The purpose of the school was Bible study for Christadelphians, their children, and interested friends, in tandem with recreation and fellowship.
The school was established upon land donated by James Daniel Martin, a Christadelphian. In 1885, Martin erected a pavilion on his land at Cadron Cove (Faulkner County) for the purpose of holding Christadelphian gatherings. The community was renamed in 1887 for Martin and his brother, former Confederate captain W. W. Martin. Dunaway, an educator by profession, served without pay as superintendent of the facility from 1923 until his death in 1958. Eventually, an organizational structure was settled upon that consisted of a committee composed of a superintendent, assistant superintendent, secretary, and treasurer. These positions were appointed by representatives of the Arkansas Christadelphian congregations. Though some operational change has since ensued, the structure has essentially remained the same.
Over the years, the facility expanded, with Martin’s pavilion coming to serve as a dining hall. In 1928, a large open-air Craftsman-style building was erected for classes, lectures, and services. Called “the tabernacle,” it is thought to be the largest structure of its kind extant in the state. Also on the multi-acre grounds are dormitories, a nursery, classrooms, recreational vehicle (RV) facilities, a sports field, and privately owned cabins.
The Bible school was the first of its kind for the denomination and served as a model for many that followed elsewhere. As Christadelphians do not have a paid ministry, these are all-volunteer efforts.
As of 2011, the Arkansas school is held for one week in June, with weekend gatherings in April and September. Christadelphian teachers for both young people and adults are selected by the committee. On the average, some 300 attendees come from across the United States and Canada.
For additional information:Faulkner County Historical Society. Faulkner County: Its Land and People. Conway, AR: Faulkner County Historical Society, 1986.
Lippy, Charles H. “The Christadelphians in North America.” Studies in American Religion 43. New York: The Edwin Mellon Press, 1989.
Bob WiddingConway, Arkansas
Last Updated 7/29/2011
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