Gloryland Family Fellowship Church

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City/Town:
Location Class:
Year Built: NLR - 1947, Eudora - 1920s | Year Abandoned: 2011
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Michael SchwarzEddy SissonGrant KingJared Holt

Eudora – Gloryland

North Little Rock – Gloryland

The mystery behind 2 Abandoned churches

Perhaps the only thing more depressing than an empty church is a church that is almost empty. An empty church always has the prospect of rebirth, while a church that has gradually dwindled down from being full to almost empty generally only faces the prospect of a gradual, lingering death. But unlike most churches, the worship facility located right off of Pike Street in North Little Rock has fully crossed this spectrum twice and now seemingly stands at the dawn of its third cycle and what just might prove to be its most ambitious and profitable life yet. The life and death of Gloryland and its community is not over.

I am not trying to get sentimental, but I can remember when abandoned Arkansas 1st started in late 2012. I had just started college and just moved to Arkansas. Having no friends and boredom on weekends led me to North Little Rock to try and find “cool stuff to photograph.” After what I thought was a wrong turn and getting lost, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a 3 story white brick building with broken windows.

I was immediately taken back by this and was intrigued to go inside. I spoke with a neighbor and a passing police officer that told me the owner of the building had disappeared and that entry would not upset anybody. With that in mind, I cautiously entered the structure. There were papers everywhere, all the pews were still in their place and even a drum set at the front of the sanctuary. It looked like the entire place had been frozen in time. Part of me wasn’t even sure if it was closed. Walking around, I continued to see everything perfectly placed where it should be. The toys in the nursery, desks in the office’s and a sign at the front “Prove God Now.” I wish I had taken more pictures the 1st time I went in because by the time I had come back, thieves, homeless and vandals had made there way around.

After spending close to 3 hours walking around, I made my way back to my apartment in silence; wondering how and why a place like that was closed with everything left the way it was. I immediately Went to my friend Google to see what I could find.  I found a few YouTube videos, a Facebook page and some business profiles, but nothing about its closure. According to everything I found, it was still operating. I was absolutely mystified. On a sign in front of the building and on numerous papers I found laying around, I noticed, Pastor Cedric Hayes. This man had seemed to have vanished. Other documents indicated there were 3 Gloryland locations in total. One in Wynne, Eudora and of course, North Little Rock. Every number I found, every address I saw was a dead end. All three locations now, closed. I sent emails and commented every I could looking for any clue. That’s when I finally got the call back I was looking for, from the one and only Cedric Hayes. After talking on the phone for a few minutes, he agreed to meet with me at an Applebee’s (not my first choice). Although he was slightly confused about why I wanted to talk with him, we spoke for over 3 hours.

Pike Avenue Baptist Church – North Little Rock

The story of “the little worship facility that could” begins 67 years ago. It was 1947, North Little Rock was a bustling, growing community of 102,000, the Park Avenue Baptist Church opened up to the community right off of Pike Street. By 1960, North Little Rock had grown to a city of 108,000 and the Pike Avenue Baptist Church had itself swelled up into a congregation of 300 members. The church remained a vibrant and growing body of believers all the way through the 1960’s, the 1970’s, and well into the 1980’s. But while the city of North Little Rock continued to grow all around the church, the community and the world beyond it gradually changed in ways that made church growth itself more and more difficult. Fewer and fewer young adults came along to replace the aging adults as they began to gradually pass away one by one over time. As faithful members moved away, fewer and fewer new members found their way into the congregation to replenish the waning tide. The happy sounds of children’s voices within the church’s worship facility gradually grew more and more faint until they finally stopped being heard at all. What had been well-orchestrated efforts toward ambitious church growth turned into a desperate battle for simple survival that would ultimately dwindle down into a grim waiting game. By the time the early 1990’s rolled around a scant 10 members remained within the church, a mere reminder of the once vibrant congregation that had radiated throughout the facility. When the church’s seemingly inevitable fate finally arrived and claimed the remnants of the once great congregation, it didn’t come as a surprise to that final handful of the faithful – by that time the small group of believers had seen it coming for a while. And down but not out, they embraced the final option open to them, consolidated their small remaining number with that of another nearby church, and they sold off the worship facility. And that is how the Pike Avenue Baptist Church was born, that is how the congregation lived, and that is how it died.

“Gloryland Ministies Part 1”

Enter Cedric Hayes, man of God.

Having himself begun as a pastor in a nearby neighborhood, Cedric Hayes’ held many cherished recollections of the once mighty Pike Avenue Baptist congregation and felt a special attachment to the old worship facility. And where an active membership that had been 300 strong at it’s peak once labored and ultimately fell, Pastor Hayes remained fervently convinced that the prospect of a glorious future yet remained. Could one man succeed where three-hundred had quietly dwindled down to none? In a bold statement of faith that would have made the Old Testament judge Gideon himself proud, Pastor Hayes decided that the answer was yes. In 1993 he arranged for the purchase of the old Pike Avenue Baptist Church property, and through this act of one man’s faith in God, the Gloryland Baptist Church took over the abandoned Pike Avenue facility.

But even then, the new congregation that rose up within the old facility already had deep roots of love within the surrounding community. Starting out himself as the pastor of another much smaller church within North Little Rock, Hayes’ simply wanted to make a positive difference on a spiritual level. He first started Gloryland on a much smaller scale by renovating an old garage. Driven by the simple desire to save some of the local kids who were falling prey to the negative influences that had become prominent within the surrounding neighborhoods, Hayes worked tirelessly in his pursuit. Hayes’ faithful determination and heart-felt desires shined through in the most beautiful ways, too, and that little church began to grow as a result of his continued efforts within the Lord. As the church got bigger, it began to need a larger facility to serve as its headquarters and place of worship. Through his continued hard work, vision, and perseverance, Hayes was finally able to raise enough money to secure the old Pike Avenue Baptist Church in 1993. As the church became more and more of a driving force within the community, they renamed it the Gloryland Fellowship Family Church.

Gloryland in Eudora

In 2004, Pastor Hayes found him self in the very Southeast corner of Arkansas, Eudora. He was there to help close out a revival, but while there, Hayes received a calling to open another church found the First Presbyterian Church near-by, it had been vacant for a few years and was for sale for $20,000. Hayes new this was a great opportunity and raised the funds. He opened a full-on soup kitchen for the area and it was always packed. This historic church was originally built in the 1920s and Cedric made sure to keep everything as it was. “Everything was still in there when I bought it. All we had to do was move our stuff in, pretty much.”

For a year, Hayes was preaching at 3 churches all across Arkansas AT THE SAME TIME. “Some would consider that insanity” Hayes told me laughing. “I started in Wynne at 9AM, then Little Rock at 12PM and then Eudora at 3PM. I had so much going on.”

Eventually disharmonies arouse within the church, various factions ended up forming amongst the members, and over time it had a negative impact on the unity of the congregation. Dismayed and confused by this gradual turn of events, members began to lose their faith in the work and leave. Refusing to be daunted, Pastor Hayes continued to pour his heart into his work and he started a new effort amongst the youth of both the church and the community. Working fervently with all of the young people that he was able to draw into the effort, Pastor Hayes ended up forming what he began referring to as “The Pastor’s Choir.” youth that he called “The Pastor’s Choir.” His original intention had been to simply start a choir as a means of getting the kids off of the street, but as he continued to work with them he quickly realized that the kids had some various serious talent and the choir became popular very quickly. In recent years, this choir was featured on “America’s Got Talent.”


The Gloryland Pastor’s Choir On KARK 4 News: 

Issues within the over-all membership continued to take a heavy toll on the unity of the congregation, however, and by 2011 the membership had decreased to the point that they were forced to once again close down the Eudora location, then shortly after, the Park Avenue facility. First, the Eudora congregation became too small to fund Hayes gas bill took a toll then moving just two blocks down the street to a smaller building in NLR, next having to relocate to a hotel meeting room on a Sunday-to-Sunday basis, the membership finally decreased to the point that the church simply ceased altogether. But Pastor Hayes, his faith undeterred and his conviction unshaken, continued to work with the children in the special ministry that he had formed around them. The choir continued to grow and increase in scope and stature and today Haye’s tours with them all over the United States as they share their faith, utilize their talent, and inspire all who come into contact with them.

Walking through the North Little Rock location up to it’s unfortunate demolition in 2017, it showed a lot of work that needed to be done. However, the Location in Eudora sits in great shape in comparison. And Cedric has major plans as the previous life of the building continues to shine through. The various and miscellaneous discarded odds and ends bear silent testimony to the faithful hands that held them back during another, more active time. Rows of church pews continue to look expectantly forward toward the lectern at the head of the auditorium, patiently awaiting yet another blessed installment of the Divine Word. And while the interior of the facility remains empty of people, it continues to be blessed by the memories of all of the decades of believers that passed within it.

Gloryland can never die or completely fade away…not so long as believers such as Pastor Hayes continue to live and hold onto the keys. Indeed, as you speak with Pastor Hayes about his righteous purpose and as you observe him looking at the building simply waiting to bloom again before him, you can almost hear the congregation sing…

Article by AAR Photojournalist Michael Schwarz

Restoration

And as for the Eudora facility – it’s spirit remains persistent and it’s outlook remains bright. Always eager to move forward, forever anxious to do more, and determined to serve the community to the utmost of his ability, Pastor Hayes is currently drawing up plans to renovate the old church building, converting it into a community center, reopening the full soup kitchen and hopes to eopen another branch of a non-profit he helps with in Little Rock today. Being friends with Pastor Hayes since 2013, I wanted to be involved, not just because this is a historic building, but because I believe that he has a great plan and deep down he just wants to help. We have already had 1 volunteer day to clean-up debris, rip-up old carpet and prepare for the next steps. If you would like to be notified of more volunteer days coming up, please sign-up here. We would love your help!

Sign-up to Volunteer: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14r4p4jwpveKY6qex_UYywFv3dUZulrjBKcyN04WnADw

Extensive Photo Gallery BelowKATV 7press




North Little Rock Photos (For Eudora, keeps scrolling)

Eudora Photo Gallery BelowKATV 7press




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Teresa Ray Canales
Teresa Ray Canales
2 years ago

i also was raised at pike avenue and was baptized there when i was 8 my grandparents (Corders) were a huge part of this church i am so glad i have so many wonderful memories there and i miss this church it was a great place for families .these pictures are so heart breaking.

Kitty
Kitty
4 years ago

So very sad that Pike Avenue is no more. The city has now razed the building and only a pile of rubble remains. It should have never gotten to this state of condition. Cedric Hayes should be ashamed he let a beautiful house of worship be condemed.

rewrite paper
5 years ago

This church is working since a long time ago and it just have wonderful time with students.

Mike Seabaugh
Mike Seabaugh
7 years ago

I appreciate the photos and the story about gloryland. But the part about Pike Avenue is totally inaccurate. As the former Pastor, I was there when the church facility changed hands. Pike Avenue was running around 120 in worship. Gethsemane Baptist Church approached Pike Avenue about merging. They were running around 80 at that time. Their facilities were more centrally located for the membership so on the Fiftieth anniversary of Pike Avenue, the church celebrated its history and reconstituted as the Crosspoint Baptist Church that afternoon with the membership from Gethsemane. The Pike Avenue property was made available to Gloryland… Read more »

Michele Chrisman
Michele Chrisman
Reply to  Mike Seabaugh
2 years ago

Hi Pastor Seabaugh, my name is Michele Donley Chrisman and I was a member of Pike Avenue Baptist Church in the early 70's. After spending 42 years in Houston, Tx I have returned to Arkansas and have found a church I would like to join. I was saddened and surprised to learn of the demise of my church, i truly loved this church.
I never moved my letter from Pike Avenue Baptist Church, and was wondering if you have any idea what happened to the church records?
Any information you can supply will be appreciated.
Thank you
Michele Donley Chrisman

Cathy
Cathy
7 years ago

My family started Pike Avenue Baptist Church. My father,mother and I was baptized in this church. It was a everyday part of my life. The sign outside the church was made by my father! Proud to say I am a Corder!! It breaks my heart to see these photos! Thanks for posting this! If the sign every comes up for sale, let me know. My love and memories are embedded in those walls!

Mason
Mason
Reply to  Cathy
7 years ago

I don't suppose you remember the name of the architecture firm that designed the building?

jonathan merritt
jonathan merritt
7 years ago

I have the pike avenue baptist church history book. Nothing hurts more than to read the names of those whose families gave the stained glass in their memory. And now…the glass is shattered and in a crumpled mess…

Regina
Regina
7 years ago

I grew up in this church when it was Pike Ave Baptist Church. There is so much more to the story. The original church burned in the late 50s or early 60s. It was a community church and many people walked to services.

James Jarmon
James Jarmon
7 years ago

Greeting TUNE IN THE BEST HAS YET TO COME FORTH DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTER IN CHRIST!!! Let it be known "This shall I offer unto the: GOD'S LOVE, GOD'S GRACE, AND GODS MERCY!!!" Because these things were given unto thee and not by the hands of man let that be known as well, Amen? SO IF WE "THE CHURCH" KNOW WHERE THEY ARE SOME PLEASE IN FORM THEM OF THE FOLLOW: THEY HAVE CA– — USE A STATE OF CONFUSION AMONGST WE THE PEOPLE OF SAID BUILDING!!! THEIR PRESENTS' WAS NEEDED BUT COULD NOT BE FOUND!!! I BESEECH THEE TODAY… Read more »

former member
former member
8 years ago

I attended and worked at this church for a long time. I left there in 2001 or so. Looking at these photos makes me want to cry. Lots of memories in that building….both good and bad. Also,,,the brief 'history' of the church listed in the piece isn't right. There was a church in that building before us and its congregation split ….leaving the building to be purchased by Gloryland. Gloryland itself wasn't formed until the early 90's or so and they started in the old Stinger Sam building on 15th St. in North Little Rock. Just FYI….

former member
former member
Reply to  Michael Schwarz
8 years ago

That is awesome! Glad that the building won't go to waste. There were a lot of lives changed in that building (for the good) and mine is one of them. It went 'left" later on but nonetheless, powerful ministering and outreach took place for a long time.

James Jarmon
James Jarmon
Reply to  Michael Schwarz
7 years ago

Greetings……………………………………… SO LET US PRAY FOR THE CHURCH!!!

Jason
Jason
8 years ago

what street is it on

Margy
Margy
8 years ago

This looks really scary! How do you go into these buildings??

Cindy
Cindy
8 years ago

Wow, it's like they just left one day and never went back…..

Baptist Member
Baptist Member
8 years ago

I remember attending this church in 2001 to 2007. there were rumors of it closing when I left for New Mexico. This is one of the more beautiful churches I attended.

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