{ business directory }

CELEBRATING FAITH

Fort Smith’s religious community is as diverse and varied as its population, but many local events help to unite its residents in faith. Each May, Fort Smith officials, residents and church leaders come together in observance of the National Day of Prayer.

The nondenominational event is an opportunity for everyone to gather in prayer for the city as well as the country. Last year’s event was held on the lawn of the Sebastian County Courthouse and included Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders, Fort Smith Police Chief Nathaniel Clark, Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck and Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue. Church leaders who contributed to the event included Pastor Don Hutchings of Evangel Temple, Pastor Brad Lewter of Grand Avenue Baptist Church and Pastor Jackie Flake of Community Bible Church. Students from the Christ the King Catholic School choir also sang two songs during the event.

Sebastian County Judge David Hudson said that America has been blessed by the grace of God.

“President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that our nation should set apart a day for national prayer to confess our sins and transgressions in sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon announced in the holy scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord,” Hudson said at the May 2017 event.

Here are a few of the area churches that helped shape the community long ago, and some new up and coming congregations:

EVANGEL TEMPLE

A new building that will serve its mission to help the community is being built at Evangel Temple Assembly of God in Fort Smith.

Currently, the church is building a Family Life Center at its 1110 S. 12th St. location. The new facility will include a kitchen, new classrooms and foyers, a children’s church space and a dedicated outreach center. The new addition will add 20,000 square feet to the church’s main building.

The church has hosted a number of community events, including featuring Fort Smith Police Chief Nathaniel Clark as a guest speaker last year.

GODDARD UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Many of Fort Smith’s churches boast a lot of history, and this is especially true of one that marked 110 years in 2017.
Goddard United Methodist Church celebrated its anniversary with a picnic in September. The church was founded in 1907 as Dodson Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church South. At the time, anything south of Rogers Avenue was considered the south side of town. The church was born when the governing body felt that a congregation should be established there; First United Methodist Church was already in existence at B and 15th streets.

The main sanctuary building of the church was built in 1931, although during the Depression, the congregation fell on hard times. Members took out second mortgages and held bake sales in order to keep the church together.

In 2014, lightning struck the church’s bell tower, causing damage, including water damage in the Sunday School wing, which was repaired.

Goddard is known for its missions in Fort Smith and throughout the country as well as its ministry for children. One annual event the church hosts is a concert of African American spirituals and gospel music, something it has done for the past 25 years.

LIFE.CHURCH FORT SMITH

Life.Church Fort Smith continues to grow. Currently in a location at 4933 Old Greenwood Road, the nondenominational church plans to move into a new building at 1900 N. 62nd St. in late 2018. The new building will be 38,923 square feet and is currently under construction off I-540 next to Kelley Highway Walmart.

“Currently, Life.Church Fort Smith welcomes about 500 people through its doors each weekend, and we’re excited for the opportunity to welcome even more people in our new, bigger space later this year,” said Rachel Feuerborn, the church’s public relations specialist.

TheBOD.Church became Life.Church Fort Smith in December 2016 and was Life.Church’s first Arkansas location.

NEW LIFE CHURCH

New Life Church’s goal is to complete 50 campuses throughout Arkansas; this includes locations in Fort Smith at 9000 S. Dallas St., 4201 Windsor Drive and Sunday services at the Riverview Hope Campus, 301 S. E St.

A nondenominational church, NLC Fort Smith offers a unique opportunity for its members to join a variety of different “life groups” based on a group or individual’s needs. The groups vary from middle school and high school to co-ed to Bible classes and other special interests.

The church’s remodeled 12,000-sq.ft. sanctuary was completed in 2017, which doubled the space at the church.

ST. SCHOLASTICA MONASTERY

Work continues on construction of a new St. Scholastica Monastery near the iconic larger structure on South Albert Pike Avenue, which was constructed between 1924-29.

The new 30,900-square-foot monastery is expected to open in summer 2018. The Benedictine Sisters at St. Scholastica have planned the new monastery for more than 15 years, with funds being raised through the Forward in Faith Capital Campaign. The current building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

St. Scholastica is an independent religious community of Benedictine Sisters. At the height of its occupancy, St. Scholastica was home to roughly 300 nuns. Now there area 33. Trinity Junior High School uses space at the former St. Scholastica Academy, which closed in 1968, in the separate building on the property.

The Benedictine nuns first arrived in Arkansas in 1878, moving into quarters built by Benedictine monks in Subiaco, which was then Creole. Later that year, the sisters moved into a new building and began teaching in St. Benedict’s School, the first parochial school in Logan County. The sisters moved the mother house to Fort Smith in 1924.