Our History

History of Paragould First Assembly of God

(pictured to the right is the original Church Building on Lake Street below to the left is Rev. and Mrs. J.S. McMahon Further down on the right is our current building erected in 1991 and to the left are Rev. and Mrs. Mark Smith and just below that is Rev. Mark Smith and some of his Church Staff in the new FLC built in 1997 )

Rev. J. E. Baldwin planted Paragould First Assembly of God sometime during 1919.  The church was first located on the bank of “8 Mile Creek” near the intersection of North End Avenue and Bradley Street.  Pastor Baldwin and his small church family applied for affiliation with the Assemblies of God on February 7, 1920 with affiliation granted on February 12th1920.  The first board consisted of Pastor Baldwin, William Earhart, A. C. Brown, and S. C. Bell.  As with most new churches, the early years were difficult as the church struggled to establish itself in the Paragould community. 

The church was without a pastor for nearly two years in 1928-1929 and was running about 15 in attendance.  Rev. Ambers Roy, a twenty-eight year old minister, assumed leadership of the church in 1930. 

Pastor Roy resigned in 1931 and invited Guy Walsh, a guest evangelist, to lead the struggling church.  During the tenure of Pastor Walsh the church moved twice in search of an appropriate meeting location.  After meeting in the Greene County Courthouse for a short time they moved to a building on Pruitt Street, then decided to purchase land and build a new facility.  Under Pastor Walsh’s leadership the new building on Lake Street was completed in 1933.  The church grew to over 100 in attendance during that time.  Pastor Walsh served for three years and resigned in 1934 when he married a lady evangelist. 

It took one year to find a replacement after Pastor Walsh left.  In 1936 Rev. Ralph M. Coon came and served for one year.  He was followed by A. A. Bradley who served from 1937-1939.  Rev. Lloyd Wallace followed A. A. Bradley, but stayed less than one year.  Pastor Bradley returned for a second term and served two more years until 1942. 

As World War II broke out in 1942, Rev. J. S. McMahan assumed leadership of the church and served until 1946.  The Rev. H. L. Blankenship came and stayed until 1948.  Then came Rev. C. L. Hundley who served for three years followed by B. Ferrin who stayed less than one year.  During this time period, attendance had fallen off to about a dozen people each service.  Oversight of the church came under control of the Arkansas District headquarters as the church body was unable to sustain its own governing board.          

The Arkansas District appointed Rev. J. O. Smith as pastor in August 1951.  Under Pastor J.O. Smith’s eight-year tenure the church regained stability.  Attendance rebounded and approached the 200 mark.  When Pastor Smith resigned in June 1959 he was followed by Rev. Hugh Still

Church attendance grew to near capacity and a new building was desperately needed.  Pastor Still and his board decided the future of the church demanded that they relocate.  In 1960 the church voted to purchase property on the corner of North 7th and Morgan Street.  Some were opposed to moving the church to Morgan Street and split off at that time.  Though the building campaign was a financial strain on the church for a season, God blessed the step of faith and the church continued to grow.  Four acres were purchased and a new sanctuary that could accommodate 300 people was completed in 1962.  Pastor Still served for 8 ½ years and resigned in December 1967 to pursue another ministry opportunity.

In December 1967 Rev. J. T. Gates became pastor of Paragould First Assembly.  For the first time since 1961, the church was reestablished as a “sovereign” assembly within the Assemblies of God..  This meant the church became self-governing again apart from district control.  Pastor Gates oversaw many improvements to the church property and faithfully served God’s people at Paragould for 18 years.  Pastor Gates resigned in September of 1985 at the age of 62.

In October 1985 Rev. Mark Smith became the pastor of Paragould First Assembly at the age of 28. Under his leadership attendance doubled.

In January 1991 a fire completely destroyed the church building on West Morgan Street.  The loss of the church building and its contents was estimated at $400,000.  The community rallied around them.  More than a dozen different churches offered their buildings for services.  They met at different places, but eventually the congregation decided to meet for worship at the Paragould High School auditorium.  Pastor Smith and the Church Board felt the church should relocate in order to position itself for future growth and the changing demographics of the city.  Under Pastor Smith’s leadership, the church was rebuilt at 1605 Fairview Road where it stands today.    Serving as board members and trustees at the time of the relocation and reconstruction were Ken Curtwright, Richard Mann, William C. Stewart, Calvin Prestidge, Charles Woodson, and Buddy Mann.  The new structure was completed in October 1991. 

As the church celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1995, Pastor Smith spoke in a newspaper article in reference to the devastating fire, “What Satan meant for bad, God has turned into a great blessing for us.  Over the past four years the church has grown spiritually and in attendance.” 

A “Family Life Center”, containing a gymnasium and additional classrooms, was added to the church grounds in 1997.  In April of 2003 Pastor Smith resigned to return to his home state of Ohio.

One of Pastor Smith’s former associates, Rev. Shannon D. Morgan, returned to Arkansas from his home state of Oklahoma to serve as pastor in September 2003.  Pastor Morgan resigned in 2010.  In December 2010, Pastor Tim Snavely became the pastor and later resigned in July of 2015.

On Sunday, November 1, 2015 Carl and Sarah Friedel were elected the Pastors of P1AG.  They moved to Paragould with their family of six after serving as Short-Term Missions Coordinators and as Instructors of a School of Ministry in Tijuana, Mexico.  They served in co-leadership at P1AG from December 13, 2015 to August 2, 2020 when they resigned their position.


P1AG Pastoral Leadership Timeline

J.E. Baldwin                                  1919-1928

Ambers Roy                                  1930-1931

Guy Walsh                                    1931-1934

Bill Laster                                      1934-1935

Ralph Coon                                   1936-1937

A.A. Bradley                                   1937-1939

J.S. McMahan                                1942-1946

H.L. Blankenship                           1946-1948

C.L. Hundley                                  1948-1951

B. Ferren                                         1951

J.O. Smith                                        1951-1959

Hugh Still                                        1959-1967

J.T. Gates                                         1967-1985

Mark W. Smith                                1985-2003

Shannon D. Morgan                       2003– 2010

Timothy Snavely                             2010-2015

Carl & Sarah Friedel                       2015—2020