Efforts to organize a class for young adult members of the church was likely begun when the church was located in downtown North Little Rock.
First Methodist relocated to a new church facility at 22nd & Poplar Street in 1950 and this young adult group, who took the name Builders Class, began to grow rapidly over the next few years under the dynamic leadership of Mrs.Esca Riggin.
The class consisted of singles and young married couples without children. They were searching for spiritual leadership and wanted plenty of activities.
During the next 5-10 year period, the class grew by leaps and bounds. Every few years more space was needed for Sunday School. Members ended up ripping out a wall between two classrooms to accommodate the group.
In addition to S.S. and church services the group enjoyed many other activities. The church softball team was made up almost entirely of Builders Class members, and this was a good source of bringing in young people without a church home.
One couple had a water skiing/fishing boat and regular overnight outings were held on Lake Hamilton. Sunrise services were followed by a hearty breakfast, then water skiing while the lake was still as smooth as glass. One member worked at the Corps of Engineers and he arranged for the class to use the Corps house located on Bull Shoals lake. Fishing, skiing, and good eats were in order, plus always a S.S. lesson. Esca and husband Pitt were chaperones, along with some of the parents.
Soon children came along at a fast pace, singles married, and the class grew even more. So, instead of weekend outings on the lake, there were bar-b-ques and fun parties without any special occasion. Saville Henry was a staff member and husband Carol was on the athletic staff at the high school. Many of the athletic staff members were new to town and soon they became active members of the class. At one time there were at least 12 class members from this group, including wives.
A couple of times each year, class members would go to Fort Roots and hold a gospel singing and devotional service for the patients, who were mostly older men, and they seemed to really enjoy the relationship with young folks. Once a song number was called out, many would immediately know the name The Old Rugged Cross, Beulah Land, and Amazing Grace, etc . Also the class arranged with another church to play a softball game there. Ft. Roots had a good lighted ball field and the game always had several hundred patients who were rabid fans.
This was a great 15-20 year period for the class….but children grow and S.S. teachers were needed and many came from the Builders Class. Esca Riggin reached retirement age and new teachers came along over the next few years. The class continued with vitality with new members added. Among the members during this period was one who became a Methodist minister and one who devoted her life to a Methodist Mission in El Paso, Texas.
In 1980 a decision was made to merge the Methodist church in Indian Hills with the Church at 22nd and Poplar, continuing under the name of First United Methodist Church at the Indian Hills location. The Builders Class moved intact to the new location and met for some time in the choir room. As the class grew and new SS facilities were built, the class relocated to its room on the second floor. Over the next thirty years the class has continued to grow and has provided members serving in leadership roles in all aspects of the church and outreach programs. In recent time the Builders Class has been blessed with its members serving as class teachers.
Several members of the present Builders Class were among the members of the class in its formative years at 22nd and Poplar, but only one person has been a continuous member since the beginning ….and that person is Al Bass.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if First Methodist had a young adult class similar to the one in the 50-60’s!!