(928) 649-9983 office@riverchurchaz.org

History of River Community Fellowship

How did the church get started?

Four partner churches came together in 2002 under the leadership of the Yavapai Baptist Association with the vision of starting a new church in the Verde Valley.  

The growing population and the expanding needs of the community were the reason behind it.  While the efforts at first were focused on establishing a church in Camp Verde, after much prayer the Lord led the group to focus on Cottonwood. 

At the invitation of the associational partnership, Pastor Dave Arden, his wife Becky, and their two small children (Hope and Brooke) moved to the Verde Valley the summer of 2004 to begin the work of establishing a core group.

The church officially launched October 3, 2004 at the Quality Inn…

…with Wayne Watson leading the worship the opening weekend. 

The church moved to Tavasci elementary school in October of 2005 and worship services were held there for 8 more years—so the church met in a temporary location, setting up every week for 9 years total.

How did the new sanctuary get built?

In 1915, the James Douglas Family, wanted to develop a new mine and expand on the copper mining of the Verde Valley.  

The establishment of the new Little Daisy mine in Jerome and the new smelter were instrumental in getting our town established. 

One of the most distinguishing parts of the smelter was the 425 foot smokestack that rose above the Verde Valley floor.

This was a landmark that could be seen from miles around.  But in 1938, the Little Daisy Mine was closed, and the smelter stopped operating.

In 1948, the smokestack was blown up, and the old hill covered with bricks and rubble.

For 60 years this hill sat idle, until in 2008, the Lord called the River Community Fellowship in Cottonwood to begin the restoration of the Old Smokestack Hill.


In 2009, the church cut a new road into the top of the hill and gave the town better access to her past.

Soon after, the old base of the smokestack was restored and turned into a platform for worship and events.

In the summer of 2011, the church broke ground on the new church sanctuary.

In October 2013, after many years of praying, planning, and developing the hill, the doors were opened on a new 8,500 square foot church facility.  

Sixty-five years later, a new landmark has risen above the Verde Valley as a banner to the Light and Power and Love of Christ.