One hundred and fifty years ago the Confederate Army in Arkansas was organizing, not just for upcoming military campaigns against the Federal foe, but organizing their church. The South has traditionally been called the “Bible Belt” and was called so for a reason. Since the Civil War started in 1861, it was common for Confederate President Jefferson Davis to call for national days of prayer. It was also not uncommon for the Confederate Army to hold camp revivals that lasted, in some cases, many days.
To meet the demand for in increasing numbers of soldiers serving God on and off the battlefield, there was a perceived need to create a new church specifically for the Confederate soldier in Arkansas. Several ministers from various denominations in the Army met at the Presbyterian Church in Little Rock in mid- May, 1863 to discuss the creation of a consistent and effectual church for the soldiers in Arkansas.
The document that they drafted noted that, “The Christian men in the army believing that the habitation of God by his spirit constitutes the church, agree, for their edification and for the conversion of their fellow-men, to organize The Church of the Army…” Because of the multitude of Christian denominations whose beliefs may vary only slightly from one soldier to the next, a set of core beliefs were agreed upon to perpetuate a Christian Army: “ I. We believe the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament to be the word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience. II. We believe in one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; the same in substance, equal in power and glory. III. We believe in the Fall of Adam, the redemption by Christ, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. IV. We believe in justification by faith alone and therefore receive and rest upon Christ as our only hope. V. We believe in the Communion of Saints and in the doctrine of eternal rewards and punishments.”
The Church consisted of soldiers who, “have been baptized, adopting these articles of faith and constitution, in each regiment, shall constitute our church; who shall choose ten officers to take the spiritual oversight of the same.”