The congregation of Bethel Lutheran Church has been serving the people of Fort Smith, AR and the surrounding area since 1939. As a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, our congregation strives to be witnesses of the Gospel by proclaiming Christ for all the world, to be advocates of mercy by serving the members of the congregation and the community, and be good stewards of the Church by living together as brothers and sisters in Christ. The congregation of Bethel is currently being served by Rev. Joshua J. Willadsen.
For more information, contact the church office at (479) 452-1521 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adult Bible Study 9:00 a.m. — Fellowship Hall
Children’s Sunday School Classes 9:00 a.m. — Sunday School Classroom & Church Library
Worship – Divine Service 10:15 a.m. — Church Sanctuary
Adult Morning Bible Study 10:00 a.m.
Adult Evening Bible Study 7:00 p.m.
Called by God, forgiven through Christ, and led by his word (Spirit)
so that we might proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified
for the forgiveness of sins to our church, community, and world.
As a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) our congregation accepts without reservation:
– The Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and practice.
– All the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God, to wit: the three Ecumenical Creeds (the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Large Catechism of Luther, the Small Catechism of Luther, and the Formula of Concord.
Bethel Lutheran Church is located at the corner of Euper Lane and Waldron Road in central Fort Smith,AR west off of Exit 8 on I-540. For directions or any other questions about visiting our church,contact our church secretary, Shirley, in our church office at (479)452-1521.
In 1938, First Lutheran Church of Fort Smith decided to start a new branch of their Sunday
School on the east side of town. However, it was soon realized that an entirely new church
body was needed for the area. Therefore, on October 15, 1939, ground was broken for Bethel
Lutheran Church at the corner of Waldron Road and Euper Lane. The new church took its
name from the story of Jacob’s dream of the ladder to heaven where the Lord appeared to him −
Genesis 28:16−19: “Jacob called the name of that place Bethel . . .” Bethel is the Hebrew word
for “house of God.”
Following the groundbreaking for this new house of God, a small white frame chapel was erected. On Sunday, December 10, 1939, it was dedicated to the glory of God and to the preaching of His Gospel. The next few years saw more milestones in Bethel’s history: In January 1940, the congregation installed the first of a long line of dedicated pastors, Rev. Erwin G. Meseke. In 1942, Pastor Meseke led the congregation’s first celebration of the Lord’ Supper. In 1950, a parish hall was constructed. The addition met the growing congregation’s need for Sunday School and Vacation Bible school classrooms as well as space for fellowship activities.
By 1965, Bethel was also outgrowing the little white chapel. Therefore, the congregation undertook its most ambitious project to date − the construction of a new church building. On
Sunday, April 4, 1965, the first worship service was held in what is now Bethel’s presentsanctuary. It was formally dedicated on Sunday, June 6, 1965.
Other additions and improvements to Bethel’s property continued throughout the 1980s and
1990s. Two large building wings were added to the sanctuary to give the growing congregation
more office and classroom space as well as a Fellowship Hall for a variety of congregational
activities. These additions, along with the sanctuary, comprise Bethel’s property today.
Also during this time, the congregation looked beyond its own doors to establish two mission
churches. The first worship service of Our Savior Lutheran in Alma, Arkansas was held on
Easter Sunday, March 26, 1989, and Grace Lutheran in Greenwood, Arkansas held its first
service on Easter Sunday, March 31, 1991.
Throughout its seventy-five year history, the members of Bethel Lutheran Church have sought
the guidance of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the church’s mission of proclaiming the love and
forgiveness found in Jesus Christ. Today, served by the ministry of Rev. Joshua Willadsen
(“Pastor Josh”), Bethel continues offering these gifts to all who come through its doors.