After 100 years
Written 10/26/2003. Last Updated 3/2/2012.
The Lord has blessed us to maintain and Improve our meeting house over the years. For this we are grateful.
Copy of Original Minutes Constituting Harmony Church
The Harmony Primitive Baptist Church at Donaldson, Hot Spring County, Arkansas, was constituted near the Elmore Community (intersection of Hwy 67 and Hixon Loop near Central) on August 8, 1903. The twelve members were:
- M. Timmens
- H. Beason
- W. H. (Billy) Fuller
- A. M. Reed
- H. P. Gill
- Ira B. Fuller
- W. H. Catlett
- W. A. Catlett
- M. R. Gill
- M. J. Catlett
- B. H. Huggins
- Maggie Fuller
Elder George Hathcock was the first pastor. He served the church until 1922.
Late in 1922 the members voted to move the church to Donaldson. A new church building was erected on land donated by the Fuller family and the first meeting was held there in January of 1923. Elder C. M. Monk served as pastor from January of 1923 until February of 1925. Elder Jacob Sandage was joint pastor with Elder C. M. Monk from 1924 to 1925. He continued to serve as pastor until 1928 jointly with Elder E. W. Hargett. Elder John R. Harris was pastor of the church from 1928-1929. Elder Harl Lee served as pastor from 1929 until his death in 1941. Elder Jacob Sandage served as joint pastor from January 23, 1935 until his death in December of 1935. Elder W. A Clayton served as pastor from 1941 to 1944. Elder H. E. Black served jointly with Elder Clayton from 1942 to 1944. Elder E. W. Hargett returned to pastor at Harmony from 1944 to 1947. Elder Virgil F. Lowrance served as pastor from 1947 until 1965. Below is another picture of the first Harmony Primitive Baptist Church at Donaldson. Notice the sign is missing and the vent is smaller. The front of this meeting house faced the railroad tracks (west).
Our Present Day Building under Construction
Our present day building was erected in 1953. Building costs were kept low by using donated building materials and labor from church members and friends in the community. Can you name the four ministers in the above photograph? Clue: There are two sets of brothers.
Workin’ Hard The women pitched in to help as the building began to take shape. As you can tell from the pictures, there were lots of hours of labor that went into the new building with everyone helping out as much as they could.
1953 Construction Almost Completed
The building was completed but there was still a lot of work to be done on the yard and parking lot. This side of the building facing Hall Street shows the entry door to the basement and wood steps leading up to the side entrance of the auditorium. This is the side of our church that has changed the most over the years. Newly completed Harmony Church as seen from the railroad viaduct in 1953. Our present building is now fifty years old. Originally the basement had windows directly under each present day upper window. The parking lot sure could use some gravel or asphalt. In August of 1953, Elder Charles Sandage was ordained to the ministry and began to pastor Harmony Church jointly with Elder Virgil Lowrance. At that same meeting, Brother Lawrence Clayton (son of Elder William H. Clayton) was ordained as a deacon in the church. He served for 45 years until his death in May of 1998. Elder Sandage and Elder Lowrance served as joint pastors until 1965 when Elder Lowrance resigned. Elder Charles Sandage continued to serve the Harmony Church until 1995.
Peace Meeting Held at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
A Peace Meeting was held at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church in 1953 to encourage peace among the sister churches in our nation. Sixty-five attending ministers are pictured here on the steps of the church.
Church services have just ended. The building appears to be about two years old in this photograph (1955). Notice that no sign had been installed above the steps and the landscape shrubs left and right of the steps are very small. The 1949 ¾ ton Ford truck sporting a good set of cattle frames belonged to Arnold Sandage. Harmony Church has enjoyed the fellowship of members from our sister churches for many years. Their help in times of need has always been invaluable.
Above: Bro. Lawrence Clayton stands on the steps as Elburn Sandage stands left. Wendell Davis and Arvil Stafford are on right.
Below: Church services are getting ready to start inside. The year would have been in the late fifties or early sixties. A 1956 Oldsmobile is on the right of the picture. The sign above the steps says church services were held two Sundays each month (2nd and 3rd).
A baptistry was added to the church during the 1960s. Our building was remodeled and bricked in 1981. There was still no pavement on the parking lot. Our present pastor, Elder Neil Phelan, Jr. joined our church during the 1980s and began to pastor Harmony Church in 1995. Over the years, the Lord has blessed us to have many regular and special services in this building. We have enjoyed meals and family gatherings in the basement. There are many fond memories of loved ones that have passed on that center around time spent in fellowship and communion with one another in our church.
Harmony Primitive Baptist Church Today
You can see many improvements have been made to our building. In the last few years we have installed new doors, resurfaced the front steps and paved the parking lot. In 2001 a pastor’s study was added to the building, matching the new building to look like it was always there. We currently meet every Sunday with singing starting at 10:30 and preaching at 11:00 A.M. Lunch is served at the church every first and third Sunday of the month, as well as when we have a visiting minister. A tape ministry is an ongoing project at our church. It is currently managed by Brother Mike Harvey. If you would like a copy of any of the sermons at Harmony Church you may contact Mike for one. Harmony Quarterly is a newsletter that is published by the pastor for members of our church. The church is also working on the library at this time to add titles that would be beneficial to the study and worship of God’s word by our members.
The pastor of Harmony Church is Elder Neil Phelan, Jr. Deacons at Harmony Church are Mike Burnett, Leon Burris, Jack Clayton, Robert Jacobs, and Buford Newman.
Pastors of Harmony Primitive Baptist Church
- Elder George R. Hathcock 1903-1922
- Elder C. M. Monk 1923-1925
- Elder Jacob Sandage 1924-1928
- Elder E. W. Hargett 1925-1928
- Elder John R. Harris 1928-1929
- Elder Harl Lee 1929-1941
- Elder Jacob Sandage 1935-1935
- Elder W. A. Clayton 1941-1944
- Elder H. E. Black 1942-1944
- Elder E. W. Hargett 1944-1947
- Elder V. F. Lowrance 1947-1965
- Elder Charles Sandage 1953-1995
- Elder Neil Phelan, Jr. 1995-Present
Biographies of Pastors
Elder George R. Hathcock 1903-1922 – Elder Hathcock was born April 2, 1875. He was the first pastor of the Harmony Primitive Baptist Church and served until November of 1922. He went from Harmony Primitive Baptist Church to Little Hope Primitive Baptist Church at DeRoche. He died March 7, 1938 and is believed to be buried in the cemetery at Caney, Arkansas.
Elder C. M. Monk 1923-1925 – Elder Monk served as pastor the first two years at the new location in Donaldson.
Elder Jacob Sandage 1924-1928, 1935-1935 – Elder Sandage was born April 17, 1866 in Perry County, Indiana, to Nathan and Delilah Lamar Sandage. He was the sixth child in a family of nine children. He married Laura Griffth at age twenty and was baptized at Salem Church at the age of twenty-six. He was ordained shortly before his wife, Laura, passed away, leaving him with four small children. He married Nancy Parish and had five children with her. He first served the Harmony Church as a joint pastor with Elder Monk in 1924 and continued to pastor until 1928. He returned to Harmony Church in 1935 as pastor and served there until his death on December 1, 1935. He is buried in the Ouachita Cemetery at Donaldson. His children with wife Laura were Celia Speights, Pearlie Sandage, Delila Grant, and Edie Davis. His children with Nancy were Laura Ragan, Riley Sandage, Mattie Hudson, Mary
Melvina McDermott and Jefferson Davis Sandage.
Elder E. W. Hargett 1925-1928, 1944-1947 – Elder Hargett was born October 30, 1894 and died January 1, 1983. He lived in El Dorado, Arkansas.
Elder John R. Harris 1928-1929 – Elder Harris was born August 17, 1879. He was ordained in 1917. He passed away December 23, 1961.
Elder Harl Lee 1929-1941 – Elder Lee was born April 18, 1886 to Albert Pike and Rebecca Baker Lee.
He married Mexie Davis and had one child, Voisie. After Mexie’s death, he married Lillian Grist and had four more children, Laura Belle Bonds, Virgie Sandage, Reuben Lee and Harley Lee. Elder Lee was ordained to the ministry on November 7, 1920 at Antioch Church near Paris, Arkansas. He first served as pastor at Friendship Church at the Lone Gum Schoolhouse. He served at Harmony from 1929 until his death on March 24, 1941. He also served as pastor at some neighboring churches including Mt. Paron, Warren and Macedonia. Several of Elder Lee’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have been members of Harmony Church.
Elder William Alva Clayton 1941-1944 – Elder Clayton was born in Missouri, March 25, 1894. He joined the church at age 17 and began declaring our Lord’s goodness soon thereafter. He married Ella Lee in 1951. Their children were Iva Sandage, Lawrence, Velma Sims, Farrell and Fernando. He was ordained in 1931 at Salem Church near Damascus, Arkansas. His wife Ella died in 1944 and he later married Omer Turner. He served as pastor for Harmony from 1941-1944. He served Friendship Church, near Rosston, Arkansas, from 1942 until his death in March of 1971. Elder Clayton’s son Lawrence served as a deacon at Harmony from 1953 until his death. Elder Clayton’s grandson, Jack, serves as a deacon in our church. Harmony is blessed to have several of Elder Clayton’s grandchildren and great grandchildren as members of the church today.
Elder H. E. Black 1942-1944 – Elder Black was from Merigold, Mississippi. He was married to Edna Black and had two daughters, Evelyn and Sue.
Elder Virgil F. Lowrance 1947-1965 – Elder Lowrance was born in Eastland County, Texas, on March 14, 1904 to Thomas and Minerva Susan Lowrance. He married Virginia Ann Netty McDorman in 1928, and had three children. Onita, Pat, Peggy and one that died in infancy. Elder Lowrance joined the church in August of 1930 and was ordained on October 19, 1932. He moved to Arkansas in 1946 and served as many as four churches as pastor at the same time. He was active in the radio broadcast ministry and traveled all over the United States to preach. Elder Lowrance passed away October 6, 1987.
Elder Charles B. Sandage 1953-1995 – Elder Sandage was born March 11, 1922 to Frank and Allie Sandage in Bee Branch, Arkansas. He moved to Donaldson with his family in 1925. In 1940, at the age of 18, he joined Harmony Church. He was the last person baptized by his future father-in-law, Elder W. H. Lee. Elder Sandage married Virgie Mae Lee, Elder Lee’s youngest daughter, in 1942. They have two children, Charles Lee and David. Elder Sandage was ordained as a deacon in February of 1948 and made his first efforts to speak in 1949. He was ordained in August of 1953 at Harmony church and served jointly as pastor of the church with Elder Lowrance from 1953 to 1965. In 1965 Harmony Church began to meet every Sunday and called Elder Sandage to serve as full time pastor, which he did until 1995 when he resigned. Elder Sandage served the church as pastor longer than any of the elders thus far. He now serves Mt. Paron Church near Fordyce as pastor.
Elder Neil Phelan, Jr. 1995-present – Elder Phelan was born April 18, 1952 to Neil and Norma Phelan. He married Marilyn Bryant on November 1, 1980 and has four children: Kelli, Ryan, Neil III, and Bryant. Neil and Marilyn joined the church in April of 1983. He began speaking in the church in 1986 and was ordained on April 7, 1990. Shortly after his ordination he served Mt. Paron Church near Fordyce. He was called to pastor Harmony Church in February of 1995.
Elder Phelan is the great grandson of one of our charter members, Ira B. Fuller.