History of First Presbyterian, BentonFirst Presbyterian Photo

First Presbyterian Church, Benton first congregated on the banks of the Saline River in central Arkansas more than 150 years ago. From those humble beginnings, we continue to desire, in response to God’s love, to love God faithfully and to love and serve others.  
We serve the people of the Saline County area as we continue First Presbyterian’s long-time focus on mission activities in our community through our mission-related activities and through the use of our facilities for the benefit of the community.
  • 1838 – Reverend William Harland was the pastor of the Saline Congregation, now called First Presbyterian Church, Benton, Arkansas.
  • 1887 – Became the Benton Congregation, meeting on the lower floor of the Odd Fellows Lodge.
  • 1901 – The session recommended purchase of a suitable site to erect a new building in June, 1901. The property secured is now the location of the Federal Building in Benton. The church was dedicated in January 1903.
  • 1922 – Due to the need for added space as area young people flocked to our church, Cockman Hall was added to the church building, our church building, which became a center for youth activities for the whole community. During the 1940s it was used for a men’s dinner served once a month by the Presbyterian women, drawing large attendance from several denominations.
  • 1962 – On February 27 the church caught fire. The interior was completely ruined, but the structure survived. In the months that followed, services were held in homes and then moved to the church basement. This was a time of great physical endeavor as well as building up spiritual fellowship, which led to an enthusiastic return to a full-time program when rebuilding was complete.
  • 1973 – First Presbyterian organized and facilitated the development of what is now called the Churches Joint Council on Human Needs or CJCOHN (pronounced see-john) as it is often called. CJCOHN is now housed in a county facility which was leased and eventually sold to the organization by First Presbyterian. CJCOHN remains one of First Presbyterian’s major local mission obligations with many members faithfully volunteering every month.
  • 2000 – In September the church caught fire again. Services were held in the Benton Municipal Complex until the church building was rebuilt.
  • 2004 – First Presbyterian focused attention on developing church programs. First Presbyterian’s accomplishments during the following years included establishing a Kids Day Care, an early Sunday morning Contemporary Worship Service, an internet presence, as well as obtaining and restoring a beautiful Jardine Pipe Organ for the church sanctuary, improving the church’s parking lot, and creating an attractive playground for children.
  • 2010 – First Presbyterian resolved to call an interim pastor to assist and support the church to faithfully continue to serve God and our community as led by Holy Spirit. We called Rev. Dari Victoria Rowen to serve as our guide, counselor, and shepherd throughout a transition period. Under her guidance, the congregation gathered on several occasions for a time of careful self-evaluation. We prayerfully worked to renew our focus, which we determined to be that of the early church times: “Abiding in Christ, we love and serve others.”
  • 2013 – Due to the action of Holy Spirit and changes in our Book of Order (you will find the details in an article on the Meet the Staff page), the way was cleared for us to call our interim pastor, Rev. Dr. Dari Victoria Rowen, as our installed pastor.  She accepted our call in March and was installed in July.  With Pastor Dari’s guidance we continue our journey together, prayerfully and joyfully being the mission-oriented church we have long been known to be. 

First Presbyterian Church exists today through the love, faithfulness, dedication, and perseverance of the many men and women who have worshiped and served God and reached out to others since our inception on the banks of the Saline River.