Andrew Hunter (Methodist preacher)
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Hunter was born in Antrim, Ireland and came to the United States with his parents when he was two years old. The family settled in Pennsylvania where Hunter received a common-school education. In 1833 he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1835 he moved to Manchester, Missouri, near St. Louis, and began teaching school. In 1836 he received a license to preach and spent one year preaching to the Choctaw nation near Muskogee, Oklahoma and then appointed to a missionary school at Bayou Baynard, He was ordained a deacon in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1839 he became an elder in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the fall of 1842 he was made presiding elder of the Washington District, which comprised a large portion of Southern Arkansas. He served as pastor of what is now First United Methodist Church in Little Rock<http://fumclr.org/welcome/history/> twice, first appointed in 1842. He became one of the most popular preachers in Arkansas as well being well respected throughout the country. In 1866-67 he was elected to represent Dallas and Bradley Counties in the Arkansas State senate and was president of that body. In 1866 Hunter was elected US Senator from Arkansas by the State Legislature along with Elisha Baxter, however he was not allowed to take his seat in Congress due to disenfranchisement of Southern States at the beginning of Reconstruction. Augustus Hill Garland took his place instead. He was married in York, Pennsylvania, in 1844, to Anna M. Jones, and had four children.
Dr. Hunter died on June 3, 1902, in his 89th year, after having held almost every office his church offered: teacher, missionary, pastor of both small and great churches, presiding elder for 20 years, delegate to Annual Conferences, a member of 12 General Conferences, and of the 1891 Ecumenical Conference.
He was laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery, beside his wife. The Hunters were married in 1844 and had four children. Mrs. Hunter was active in establishing the Woman’s Missionary Society of the Little Rock Conference in 1878. Elected president of the organization in 1879, she served in that office for five years.
At the time of Hunter’s death, Dr. John H. Riggin described him as a pulpiteer, saying: “His mellow, vibrant voice made his speech impressive. His hearers soon understood that there was nothing rash or inconsiderate in his words, nothing light or trifling, nothing for show or merely to attract attention to the speaker, that the message – not himself – was his concern…”
Hunter Memorial Methodist Church
A newspaper clipping dated December 3, 1898, reads: “Last Sunday should be a red letter day in its history and one to be remembered by members of Hunter’s Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South. On that day was formally opened for public worship one of the prettiest, neatest, most comfortable and, in everything, completest houses dedicated to God that Little Rock has yet had built within her bounds. Well may the good folks of Hunter Memorial feel proud. With becoming modesty, they are loath to assume the credit for what has been done, giving praise to God first for enabling them to carry our that work which He has put in the mind of their reverend benefactor, Leon Le Fevre to design and plan for the,.”
Aside note appeared in the 1947 publication stating that “Leon Le Fevre, member of a French family that had settled at the Little Rock site before the region became American territory, had bequeathed $2,800 in cash and a plantation, for the construction of a Methodist Church .”
The Rev. James Major, pastor of Hunter Church from 1945 to 1948, wrote a history of the church for the 50th anniversary celebration which included the following statements: “It was the life of Andrew Hunter that inspired a wealthy man by the name of Leon Le Fevre to leave in his will property valued at $5,000 to be sold and the proceeds used for the building of a Methodist Church east of what is now McArthur Park and south of East 9th Street.”
The cornerstone for the first church was laid on March 27, 1897, on Barber Avenue, between 11th and 12th streets. Dr. Hunter dedicated the church on the last Sunday in March 1901, after all the indebtedness was paid.
- Andrew Hunter was also somewhat of an historian and recorded numerous significant and interesting occurrences during those early days of Methodism. The January 24, 1838, issue of the Arkansas Gazette carried an advertisement for Lincoln’s Book Store in Little Rock . The ad listed Fr. Hunter’s Sacred Biography. Dr. James Anderson in his Centennial History of Arkansas Methodism says, “There was a remarkable weight of character about the man, his personal dignity, his unselfish and blameless life, and his wisdom won the especial regard of all men.” One participant in an early revival held at Scott’s Campground described Hunter’s preaching: “Old Dr. Hunter’s favorite sermon was on the Prodigal Son. When he reached the climax and called for mourners, they filled the aisles.” id=6hUUAAAAYAAJ&dq=robert%20c%20newton%20arkansas&pg=PA978#v=onepage&q=andrew%20hunter&f=false Google Books - Centennial history of Arkansas Volume 1