1911  -  1989

 
 

Dr. W. O. Vaught was born in Versailles, Kentucky, and grew up on a farm near Brooksville, Mississippi. He was a graduate of Mississippi College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Following pastorates in Missouri and Texas, Vaught came to Little Rock in 1945 to become pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, a position he held until April 1983. During his years at Immanuel, the church grew from one building to a complex covering two city blocks. For many years Immanuel led the state in contributions through the Cooperative Program, the denomination's funding arm for all convention-wide causes, and in gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which provides one-half of the total support for Baptist foreign missions. More than twenty churches grew out of the Immanuel fellowship during Dr. Vaught's tenure. The Immanuel tape ministry, begun eight years before Vaught's retirement, distributed 3 million sermon tapes world-wide.

Following his retirement from Immanuel, W. O. Vaught conducted Bible conferences across the nation. He also authored three books, Believe Plus Nothing, God's Calendar, and The Best is Yet to Be.

Dr. Vaught was a leader in state and national Baptist circles. He served as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and as president of the ABSC Executive Board. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Ouachita Baptist University and the Board of Arkansas Baptist Home for Children. In 1955, Ouachita Baptist College (now University) conferred on him the Doctor of Divinity degree. Members of Immanuel Baptist Church spearheaded the endowment of the W. O. Vaught Chair of Bible At Ouachita Baptist University in 1983.

W. O. Vaught was a member of the Relief and Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, president of the Southern Baptist Pastor's Conference, and vice-president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He served 16-plus years on the Southern Baptist Convention's Foreign Mission Board and was chairman of the Building Committee when the present headquarters building was constructed in Richmond, Virginia.

Immanuel Baptist Church

Little Rock, AR

1945

Dr. W. O. Vaught, Jr. arrived in Little Rock on Friday, April 13, 1945, but for the church that was a lucky Friday, the 13th.  He was Immanuel's thirteenth pastor, and on the following Sunday chose for his first sermons, "My Maximum for Christ," and "What's Next."

Dr. Vaught is known as "W. O." but for the curious, and in fairness to previous pastors named, it should be explained that these initials stand for "Worley Oscar."

The new pastor came to Little Rock from Abilene, Texas, where he had been pastor of University Baptist Church since 1941.  He had been closely associated with students of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene which enabled him to continue his former, special interest in young people.

After graduating from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Dr. Vaught served as Baptist student secretary for Missouri, May 1935 to January 1, 1940.  He then became pastor of the Bethany Church, Kansas City, Missouri, from where he went in 1941 to serve the Abilene church until accepting Immanuel's call.

Although Immanuel Church had looked forward to the coming of an inspired leader to carry forward their work for Christ, they were not quite prepared for the energetic leadership they received.  They soon learned that the new minister expected them to work hard for worthwhile goals, and that he would work with them.

Dr. Vaught has always said that he knew when he was only seven that he wanted to be a minister of the gospel.  He was born in Kentucky to devout Christian parents, both teachers, but his family soon moved to Mississippi where he was reared and graduated for Mississippi College, Clinton.

His interest in religious work and his vision of the possibilities for his church have radiated in many directions, with Christ always at the center.  Competing with worldly interests that tend to detract his members from their Christian service, the pastor began to introduce "color" to the church program.  He began the use of visual aids, dramas, and attractive, colorful publicity.

It took some of the membership quite awhile to get used to the use of movies and slides in the church, but those who are active in church work know that the pastor has in mind only the promotion of Christian growth and service.

With the coming of color to newspaper advertising, special church announcements have been made in color.  For attracting attention to certain events and offerings, The Immanuel Record is sometimes printed on color paper.  Dr. Vaught believes that this use of modern means of attracting attention has created much more interest, and added more vitality to the church program.

Upon his arrival at Immanuel, he was enthused with the mission program which had originated under Dr. C. C. Warren's leadership.  He immediately took up where Dr. Warren had left the work.  When a mission location needed repair or remodeling, or if a church needed building, the new pastor was there in his work clothes to help Immanuel men and missions members.

Dr. Vaught found that the eight missions previously established were without pastors.  Laymen from the church were going out to conduct services, and he began to find a pastor for each mission because he felt the work need his stabilizing influence.  The missions became churches after securing pastors.

Other missions that have organized into churches under Dr. Vaught's direction are:  Davis Chapel, Remount, Garden Homes, Green Memorial, Arch Street, and Forest Tower, the twelfth church to be organized out of Immanuel's missions program.

Dr. Vaught was a man of vision.  He wanted Immanuel to grow and meet the needs of the people.  Plans were made to build a Education Building.  A modern three-story education building was completed in 1951, with the lovely Whitington Memorial Chapel in the northwest corner.  This addition, costing about $470,000, provided space for 15 different departments, from infants to 12-year-olds.  The chapel, with it adjoining bride's room, seats 325 and has been in much use for assemblies, study courses. weddings and funerals.

 

Chapel & Education Building

1951

The pastor's study formerly in this wing, was furnished in honor of Miss Gulnare McGuire.  The chapel's beautiful windows and its colorful pews, with theater-type seats, were memorials or gifts honoring Immanuel members.

Because of crowed conditions, Dr. Vaught began on October 3, 1954, having two church services each Sunday morning.  At 9:20 a.m. there was a Youth Service, followed at 10:50 a.m. by the usual service.  It was necessary to continue this double service for 12 years, until the recent building program was completed.

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention met at Immanuel Church in November, 1955, and the church had the privilege of hearing their former pastor, Dr. Warren, address the convention as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The sanctuary was enlarged and remodeled during the last half of 1959, with the $200,000 cost covered by the unified budget, which for 1960 was $350,000.  The remodeling program provided a better lighting system, and added space for a new platform, choir loft, baptistery and baptismal dressing rooms.  The new platform could be converted into space for dramas and pageants, and equipment was install for controlling stage lighting and for showing films.

 

Immanuel's New Remodeled

Sanctuary - 1959

By 1963, Immanuel Church had spent in the past ten years a total of $767,528 in building programs and remodeling.  The last payment on the note due on the Educational Building was paid off in December, 1963, three years and two months ahead of schedule.

The second major building program, completed in 1966 under Dr. Vaught's leadership, actually added four building areas.  To the south of the church, extending the full length of the block, the addition houses three separate units.  A new children's building is on the west which contains eight departments for children from grades 1 through 6.  It also has eight nurseries equipped with individual heating and air-conditioning units.

The new fellowship hall located in the central area of the addition contains a new dining room and banquet area which accommodates 500.  It can be divided into three smaller dining rooms, all served from a new stainless steel all-electric kitchen.  The dinning area has a stage for dramas and other presentations.

This $800,000 building program also included at ground level and attractive administrative wing north of the church, near the sanctuary.  The new Ola Youngblood Memorial Library is in the west side of this wing, while the second level consists of an adult department and three music rooms.

Administration/Library

1966

Revivals

Dr. Vaught held several revival meetings each year in other churches, and sometimes conducts the services for Immanuel's own spring or fall meeting.  He is in demand as a speaker for many out-of-state meetings, especially on college or university campuses.  In December, 1966, he was a guest speaker for Spiritual Emphasis Week at the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board, Nashville.

Many of Immanuel's Revivals were Tent Revivals which were held only a block away from the main church building.  The revivals were held during the summer months, before the church had air-conditioning.  Dr. Vaught always would bring in top leaders to these meetings.  On several occasions we had the opportunity of hearing the late  Dr. Harry Rimmer, Charles Wells, Chester Swor, and Angel Martinez.  Also he had those noted for their music and singing such as Homer Rodeheaver, Stuart Hamblen, George Beverly Shea, and Dick & Bo Baker.  On several occasions he had outstanding Christian laymen such as Roy Rogers (movie star), Howard E, Butt (founder of HEB grocery chain), and Congressman Brooks Hays (Past President of the Southern Baptist Convention).

Immanuel Baptist Church

Tent Revival

After each service Dr. Vaught would stand at the front of the sanctuary and hand out his favorite gift to the kids.

Dr. & Mrs. Vaught's

25th Wedding Anniversary

June, 1961

On April 17, 1983, on his thirty-eight anniversary as pastor Dr. Vaught resigned.  He was ready to retire.  Soon he would be named Pastor Emeritus of Immanuel.

On April 21, 1983, Dr. Vaught preached his last sermon as pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church.  The title of the sermon which was published was "Ten Things I Want You To Remember."  Dr. Vaught listed the ten most important doctrines he had taught as pastor of Immanuel.

Dr. W. O. Vaught, Jr. went to be with the Lord on (Christmas Day), December 25, 1989.