History of Park Hill Christian Church
The Park Hill Christian Church was organized in February of 1949 with 81 established Charter Members. Thirty-one met in the Park Hill Elementary School to set Easter Sunday, 1949, as Charter Sunday.
The church was organized to fulfill a need for a Christian Church more to the center of this fast-growing area of North Little Rock. The pulpit was filled by ministers from other churches of the Greater Little Rock area until a minister could be called. It took six months before the church called a minister. The first full-time salaried minister was Dr. Cecil Berry, who arrived on September 4, 1949. The first services were held in the Park Movie Theater, “C” and John F Kennedy Blvd., only six blocks from its present location. Services were held in the Park Theater until October 1, 1950. At that time, the congregation of 108 moved the worship services to the Park Hill Elementary School facilities.
Plans were made to begin a building program. A building site was donated to the church by Mr. and Mrs. John Stacy, Charter Members, and primary leaders of the church since its beginnings. Construction was begun in February, 1951 on the first Park Hill Church. The Church, located at 3800 Olive Street, was dedicated on June 17, 1951. In April 1953, Reverend James A. Fraley was called to be the second full-time minister for Park Hill. By 1954, the membership rose to 156.
The congregation, the ministry, and its outreach in the community continued to grow and it was evident early on that larger facilities would be required sooner than expected. The congregation’s active membership had increased to 180 by 1956. Property at John F. Kennedy and Idlewild was purchased and a building program was started in 1956. The first segment of the new church complex was dedicated in September of 1957. Included was the Sanctuary and classroom space for the Christian Education Department. In May 1959, Reverend Ira Kirk was called to be the third full-time minister for Park Hill.
By 1961, the congregation had grown to 323 active members with an operating budget of $28,881. Property in Lakewood was purchased for a new parsonage to be built by fellow church member/contractor L.B. Haynie. In July of that year, Reverend John Jackson was installed as the fourth full-time minister of Park Hill.
In September 1964, the members voted for an $80,000 addition to the original building on JFK. By now, the membership was listed as 379 plus children. The second increment of construction included sanctuary and chapel remodeling, a larger fellowship hall, new kitchen, classrooms, parlor, offices, and three new children’s classrooms. These facilities were dedicated on Sunday, October 24, 1965.
In June of 1970, Reverend James M. Farmer was installed as the fifth full-time minister of Park Hill. He would serve the church from 1970 to 1993.
Growth continued by the congregation and stature in the community increased, and the need for an expanded facility for use for church and community affairs was seen as a real need. Design was complete and construction of the Christian Family Life Center was begun on May 8, 1983. The Center included a Fellowship Hall/Gym, a Youth Entertainment Center, kitchen, restrooms, and storage. The building was constructed at a cost of $276,853.
In September 1993, Reverend R. Miles Cook became the sixth full-time minister at Park Hill.
In the 90s, additional studies were underway to determine the feasibility of expanding the facilities of the church at the present location. The entire membership of the church was surveyed and each group within the church was consulted to try to determine the biggest needs of the church. This resulted in a vote by the congregation to start a phase 1 building project that would include building a new Christian Family Life Center with full basketball court and new kitchen facilities, renovating the existing CFLC into additional classrooms, and renovating the children’s education wing. The construction was begun in December 2001 and finished by August 2002.
With the addition of these new facilities, several programs have been started within the church. A new workshop rotation Sunday School program called “STAR Seekers” allows children to learn Bible themes through a series of experiences taught in four – to six-week sessions. “STAR Seekers” sessions take place in beautifully painted and decorated classrooms, each representing a scene in the Bible. Class settings include the Temple Room, the Nativity Theater, the Bible-times Home, the Desert Oasis, the Tabernacle, and the Map Room (computer lab). Park Hill is also hosting a community-wide basketball program called “Upward Basketball”. Upward Basketball combines hoops with devotionals and Christian teaching and is focused on elementary and junior high age young people.
After more than 60 years of existence in North Little Rock, Park Hill Christian Church continues to be committed to offering a place to worship together, and to offering a variety of activities that minister to the interests and needs of the congregation as well as the community.