The Leachville United Pentecostal Church has a new name, People of Praise United Pentecostal Church, and now has a senior pastor, pastor and assistant pastor.
Brother Jerry Johnson has served the Leachville church as pastor since December 1980. He has been named senior pastor and is happy to welcome his son, Don Johnson, as pastor, and Mark Wheeler as assistant pastor.
In addition to the three pastors, Tim Butler serves as lay preacher and Bradley Curtright serves as youth director. A full time evangelist, Mike Bingham, is based out of the Leachville congregation. Mark Wheeler and Delana Cain serve as music coordinators. Debbie Johnson is the Ladies' Auxiliary leader. Marlon Davis serves as maintenance director. Davis spearheads any new construction or building plans.
The church also has a new children's ministry called Praise PAK (Praise Anointed Kids).
"Our church is blessed with workers," Brother Jerry Johnson said. "We never have any shortages of volunteers when it comes to the things that need to be done or the building projects."
"As a church we have been known for our praise and worship and Brother Donnie came up with the idea to add People of Praise to our name," Wheeler said.
Brother Don Johnson said even churches have to continue to change and grow or they will die.
"The message doesn't change but our approach has to change to reach out to the community," Johnson said.
Plans are in the making to add a computerized power point system for praise and singing.
"The technology is here and churches can utilize it for good," Brother Don Johnson said.
The church also plans to add pew pads, adding to the acoustics as well as comfort.
Members of the church want to reach out to the Buffalo Island Community and have several events planned to include everyone that wants to attend.
A Family and Friends Day is being planned for April 18.
"We hope to have outside singing, volleyball, horseshoes, cook hot dogs and hamburgers and a great day of fellowship," Wheeler said.
They also want to have an appreciation day for the area police officers, firemen, and ambulance workers.
"Sometimes we take for granted our local volunteer firemen and first responders. They are out there for us and a day honoring them will let them know how much we appreciate the work they do," Donnie Johnson said.
The church was founded in 1960 and the three pastors agreed that the church has been blessed beyond their vision.
"Some of our members today are the ones that helped start the church. We call them our "Senior Saints," Brother Don Johnson said. "They are all so very supportive to the church and ideas from our younger members."
Members built a new church on the same property seven years ago and thanks to the efforts of all of the members, it was free of debt in 20 months.
A few years ago the congregation decided to build a family life center in memory of Kelsey Thrasher, baby daughter of Mark and Becky Thrasher, who died with a heart problem. The Kelsey Center was completed in 2001 and is the only family life center in Leachville.
"When we decided to build the fellowship center, we went to the bank and set aside a loan for the building but never had to borrow the money," Don Johnson said. "Through donations it was paid for by the time it was completed."
The 50x80 foot Kelsey Center has a full kitchen equipped with commercial appliances, a hot food bar, a half court basketball court, volleyball court, classrooms in the upper level, and a balcony.
The church has purchased two adjacent lots to the church. Plans are to make a mini park. They want to make a cook out area with picnic tables and a volleyball area.
"Our goal is to be a witness in the community," the men said.
They all agreed that without the dedication and hard work of the members that work so well together none of the growth would have been possible.
"When you depend on the Lord good things will happen. In Psalm 67 it tells us that if we praise God, he will bless," Brother Donnie Johnson said. "We want to give the Lord all the credit."
The church is located at 106 East 10th Street in Leachville. Sunday morning services begin at 10 a.m. and the evening services begin at 5 p.m. The church also meets on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.