On Sunday, Jan. 26, the North Little Rock Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was divided, creating the new Searcy Stake. More than 1,700 members of the church attended the Stake Conference held in Lonoke, Ark. The meeting was presided over by Elder William R. Walker and Elder Alvin F. Meridith III, general authorities of the Church visiting from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A stake is a large geographical unit consisting of a number of congregations, each with memberships of three to six thousand called wards, presided over by a bishop. One characteristic of both stake and ward ministers in the LDS church is that they serve without financial compensation. Each leader is expected to earn a living in their own profession and be self-sufficient. Among the new leaders of the reorganized North Little Rock Stake President Carlton Wing works as President of Wing Media Productions, Corey Moline of Conway is employed by Hudson Cisne and Co. as a CPA, John Hopkins works as the Rehab Manager for Occupational Therapy at St. Vincent Health Systems in Morrilton.
During the conference meeting President Wing encouraged members to expect great things to happen as they live according to the gospel of Christ alluding to the prophet Moses calling upon the children of Israel to be still, listen, and watch as God parted the waters of the Red Sea.
Congregations in the reorganized North Little Rock Stake consist of Conway I and II, North Little Rock, Morrilton, Russellville and Russellville Spanish branch, Choctaw, and Danville. Congregations in the new Searcy Stake are located in Searcy, Lonoke, Cabot, Jacksonville, Mountain View, Quitman, Batesville, Pocahontas, Paragould and Jonesboro.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was introduced to Arkansas when Wilford Woodruff and Henry Brown arrived as missionaries in Bentonville in 1835.
A permanent presence of the church was established in Faulkner County when Benjamin Franklin Baker established the Barney Branch about 5 miles north of Enola in 1914 with over 100 members. The first stake in Arkansas, the Little Rock Arkansas Stake, was created in 1969, at which time the membership in Arkansas was a little less than 5,000 members. Statistics from 2012 indicate there are 64 congregations scattered throughout Arkansas, with just over 28,000 members. Total membership of the church in Arkansas has increased 87 percent since 1993.
The need for the division of the North Little Stake into two units was due to the large number of units within the one Stake and increase in membership.