Fort Smith Seventh-day Adventist Church

A Brief History of Fort Smith, Arkansas

The Work Begins

In 1897, Elder John Allen Holbrook held a week of prayer in Fort Smith. Camp meetings were held there in 1898, 1908, and 1910, and in Van Buren, just across the Arkansas River, in 1890, 1891, and 1903. Canvassers worked the area in 1907 and 1908.

Fort Smith Church Organized in 1911

Elder J. W. Norwood

In June 1910, J. W. Norwood organized a Sabbath school in Fort Smith (Dart, 1910) with less than a dozen members (Norwood, 1910). Norwood visited again in August and the church had ordered a large supply of Adventist books to sell (Record, 1910). This was followed by camp meeting in September and by April 1911, the Sabbath school had grown to about forty members and was meeting in a nice room above the American National Bank (Norwood, 1911). The Fort Smith church was organized on April 29, 1911, and Elder Norwood reported in the Record that the newly organized church at Fort Smith was planning to erect a church building (Norwood, 1911).

A New Church in 1912

The Fort Smith church made plans to build and had planned on a wooden structure with a brick foundation but by December 1911, enough bricks had been donated so they could build a solid brick church (Norwood, 1911). In June 1912 Elder Volney B. Watts held meetings in the new church (Norwood, 1912).

A New Church in 1920

In 1920, the members sold their church and bought a lot close to town with a frame church on it. They had it paid off within just a few months (Record, 1921). In the fall of 1929 Elder Crosier held a series of tent meetings in Fort Smith and baptized over 100 people. He planned another series for 1930 (Eichman, 1930).

A New Church

The Fort Smith church dedicated in 1953. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Several years later the old church building was sold, and for some time the church met in rented quarters while a new building was under construction. Three lots were purchased on North 34th Street, and a modernistic type church was built across the front of the three lots. On Sabbath, December 12, 1953, the building was dedicated at the morning service (Sanders, 1954).

A New Church in 1999

First baptism in the new church. Back Row L to R: Ellen Miller, Cody Thomas, Patsy Thomas, Bud Miller and Frank Weyer. Front row L toR: Christina Basham, Jill Greenwood, George Miller, Sr; Terry Miller, William Miller and the pastor, Wayne Miller. Austin and Mark Parker and Loren Rand were not present when the picture was taken. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

In 1984, construction began on a new school facility on property on Jenny Lind Road. Later a gym/auditorium was constructed on the property and served as a place of worship for the church. In February 1998, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new church and construction began. A grand opening ceremony for the beautiful new church was held on July 24, 1999, with over 270 in attendance. October 30, 1999, the members were excited to hold the first baptism in their new church. Twelve new members were baptized and two were re-baptized (Beason, 2000). The church was dedicated debt free on November 11, 2006 (Newsletter, 2007).

Fort Smith Church on Jenny Lind Road in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.

Citations

(1910, Aug. 9). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

(1911, Mar. 14). Ibid., p. 3.

(1915, Jun. 29). Ibid., p. 9.

(1921, Mar. 15). Ibid., p. 3.

(2007, Feb. 1). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 4

Beason, Janet. (2000, Jan. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 13.

Dart, C. J. (1910, Jul. 12). Ibid., p. 2.

Eichman, G. F. (1930, Mar. 12). Ibid., p. 1.

Norwood, Mrs. J. W. (1911, Apr. 4). Ibid., p. 6.

Norwood, J. W. (1911, May 30). Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid. (1911, Dec. 5). p. 4.

Ibid. (1912, Jun. 18). p. 1.

Sanders, F. O. (1954, Jan. 13). Ibid., p. 4.