In 1998, God placed a burden on the heart of Bishop Steven M. Arnold, Senior Pastor of the St. Mark Baptist Church at 5722 West 12th Street of Little Rock, to plant a church in Jacksonville, Arkansas.
St. Mark Baptist Church had a membership of over 4,000 members and was having two Sunday Morning Worship Services with capacity crowds.
After prayer and research, it was felt that Jacksonville was fertile ground for a progressive ministry and that a church in the area would help to accommodate over 150 members who were already commuting from the Jacksonville are to the Little Rock location for the weekly worship services.
Bishop Arnold shared the vision with the Church, leaders and staff and began to organize and develop this effort in 1999. After much work and prayer, the first worship service was held at 10:00 a.m. on the 2nd Sunday in September 2000 at the Jacksonville Community Center. St. Mark Baptist Church became “One Church in Two locations”. Bishop Arnold continued to preach and pastor at both locations.
The initial vision was to plant the church and turn it over to another pastor and allow it to function independently from the mother church, St. Mark Baptist Church of Little Rock.
In January 2002, the assistant pastor of St. Mark, Pastor Al Romes, began to alternate and share the preaching and teaching responsibilities at the Jacksonville location. In the meantime, an aggressive effort was launched to acquire a permanent home for the church.
In July of 2003, God blessed St. Mark to acquire property from the Landmark Baptist Church at 800 North First Street in Jacksonville, Arkansas. This property consists of over 2 acres with 2 buildings in excess of 17,000 square feet.
On September 14, 2003, the church moved from the Jacksonville Community Center into the newly acquired sanctuary. In addition to Sunday worship, a Bible Study was established on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. weekly.
In May 2004, Bishop Arnold moved forward with the plan to make the Jacksonville location independent from the Little Rock location. He recommended that the Jacksonville location be renamed the St. Mark Community Church and that his assistant pastor, Rev. Al Romes, be named as the Senior Pastor. The recommendation was unanimously approved by the Board of Elders and the Jacksonville church was officially incorporated as St. Mark Community Church.
Pastor Romes took the reins on September 12th, 2004, as the church celebrated its 4th Anniversary. Pastor Romes was installed on November 21 of the same year. Staff was hired to assist him with the work of the ministry.
Under Pastor Romes leadership numerous ministries have been established as well as a scholarship fund (2006) to award scholarships to qualifying high school graduates. The church also maintains community contributions to local charities and foreign missions.
In May 2016, Pastor Romes was diagnosed with lung cancer and the church went into 24-hour prayer as he began several months of radiation and chemo treatment. While he was out, the church continued to stay the course, but the illness pointed out the need for pastoral help and after much prayer, Pastor Brian K. Baker came abroad as Associate Pastor in 2017. June, that same year, Pastor was pronounced as healed.
January 2018, Pastor Romes with much prayer, announced that he will retire and requested that Pastor Brian K. Baker be Senior Pastor to take on the rein in January 2019. It was unanimously approved.
From the beginning to now, God has blessed this church beyond measure. God has demonstrated His awesome power in so many. As we begin 2019 under a new Senior Pastor, St. Mark continues to hold true to a favor scripture Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.