The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Arkansas

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An LDS meetinghouse in Conway, Arkansas

As of January 1, 2011, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 28,667 members,[1] six stakes, 64 congregations,[1] (38 wards[2] and 26 branches[2]), and one mission in Arkansas.[1]

History[edit]

Elders Wilford Woodruff and Henry Brown arrived as missionaries in Bentonville on January 28, 1835. They held their first meeting four days later and preached to an attentive congregation. Later they were confronted by an apostate member, Alexander Akeman.[3] Akeman was a man who earlier endured severe persecution in Missouri, but later turned bitterly against the Church. However, this man died suddenly and Elder Woodruff preached his funeral sermon. This event, along with Woodruff's teachings led to the baptism of a Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Hubbel, the first converts in Arkansas, on 22 February 1835.

Parly P. Pratt's gravesite near Alma

In 1838, Elder Abraham O. Smoot was called to a five-month mission to Arkansas where he preached frequently with varied results.

The year 1857 marked a tragic era in Church history in Arkansas. Elder Parley P. Pratt was murdered in on May 13, 1857 near Alma, Arkansas.He had just been acquitted by a court in Van Buren of charges pressed by Hector H. McLean, the former husband of Pratt's wife Eleanor. At the trial she testified that her former husband frequently physically abused her. Disappointed with the verdict, the McLean followed and assassinated the apostle.[4] (On April 2, 2008, Crawford County Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell gave the Pratt family permission to move Parley Pratt's remains to Utah.)[5]

Negative feelings, and later the U.S. Civil War, kept the Church from the area for the next two decades.

After the War, the church again sent missionaries to Arkansas in 1876. In 1877, Elders Henry G. Boyle and J.D.H. McAllister visited a member in Des Arc. By 1877, 27 families totaling 125 converts emigrated west. Through the 1880s, converts continued to join the main body of the saints in Utah.[6]

Permanent presence of the church was established on May 30, 1890 when the fist Latter-day Saint meetinghouse was built in White County. Benjamin Franklin Baker, an early influential convert, helped establish the Barney Branch (about 5 miles north of Enola) in 1914 with over 100 members. By 1930, three branches had been organized in Arkansas (Barney, El Dorado, and Little Rock) with a total membership of 944.

The first Arkansas stake was created on June 1, 1969 in Little Rock. This was known at the time as the Arkansas stake and later renamed to the Little Rock Arkansas Stake.[7]

The first institute building, adjacent to the University of Arkansas, was dedicated in the fall of 1999.[8]

On July 20–22, 2006, over 1,000 Latter-day Saint teens from all 5 of the Arkansas Stakes gathered for a 3-day multi-stake youth conference. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve and former associate dean of Graduate Studies in the College of Business Administration at the University of Arkansas spoke to the youth and encouraged them to live high moral standards.[9]

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, several thousand Latter-day Saint volunteers, from a 7 state area (including Arkansas), went to Louisiana and Mississippi. Many of them taking time out of their jobs or came down on the weekends to help anyone needing assistance regardless of faith.[10][11]

Arkansas "Mormons" volunteered relief in their own area on several occasions including the April 2, 2006 Tornado Outbreak,[12] and the 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak.[13] In September 2008, Arkansas Latter-day Saints went to the Baton Rouge area to aid cleanup efforts following Hurricane Gustav.[14]

Graph of Arkansas LDS membership history

Arkansas Membership History[edit]

Year Membership
1930 944
1974 5,355
1980 9,878
1990 13,753
1999 20,077
2008 25,878

Stakes[edit]

Arkansas is currently part of 11 stakes. 6 of those stakes have their stake center within the state. Since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have no paid clergy, stake presidents, bishops, etc. have their own occupation.

Arkansas Stakes[edit]

Stake Organized Wards/ Branches in Arkansas Stake President Occupation
Fort Smith Arkansas April 30, 1978 5 Glenn Richard Titsworth[15] Realtor for American Equity Realty
Little Rock Arkansas June 1, 1969 11 Michael V. Beheshti Interventional radiologist at UAMS
North Little Rock Arkansas June 19, 1983 8 Carlton V. Wing Sports Fishing Television Producer[16][17]
Rogers Arkansas August 11, 1991 12 Simon F. Keogh[18] Financial Planner
Searcy Arkansas January 26, 2014 Bruce Kevin Berkheimer[19] Podiatrist
Springdale Arkansas Stake June 4, 2006 10 Thomas Hal Bradford[20] Physician
  • The Arkansas Stake was renamed to the Little Rock Arkansas Stake.
  • The Jacksonville Arkansas Stake was renamed the North Little Rock Arkansas stake when the stake center was moved to North Little Rock.

Other Stakes with congregations in Arkansas[edit]

Stake Organized Number of Wards/ Branches in Arkansas Stake President Occupation
Memphis Tennessee April 18, 1965 1 Steven Moyle Dorius[21] Tax attorney at International Paper
Memphis Tennessee North Sept. 14, 1980 5 C.E. Zobell[22] General counsel for Peabody Hotel Group
Monroe Louisiana August 18, 1985 1 Aristotels Pena M.[23] Physician
Shreveport Louisiana January 26, 1958 1 Henry John Platt[24] Physician, partner/owner of Urgent Care Center
Springfield Missouri South May 21, 1995 3 Brian Kay Chandler[25] Clinical psychologist
West Plains Missouri May 21, 1995 1 [26]
The North Little Rock Stake Center is also the mission office for the Arkansas Little Rock Mission

Missions[edit]

Arkansas formed part of several church missions. Originally a conference of the Southern States Mission, it later became part of the Indian Territory Mission. Southwestern States Mission, Central States Mission, Texas-Louisiana Mission, Gulf States Mission, and ultimately the Arkansas Little Rock Mission formed in 1975 with Richard M. Richards as president.

The northwest part of the state is in the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission. The far South and Southwest part of the state is in the Mississippi Jackson Mission, and the Texas Dallas Mission Respectively.

Significant members that lived in Arkansas[edit]

  • Amy Daniel of the Benton Ward, Little Rock Arkansas Stake, is a former president of the Arkansas School Boards Association.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Facts and Statistics" USA-Arkansas". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "The Cumorah Project: USA - Arkansas". The International Resources for Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Alexander, Thomas G. Things in Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet. Signature Books, Incorporated. Salt Lake City, Utah, reprint 1993. ISBN 1-56085-045-0 (Excerpts)
  4. ^ Pratt, Steven (1975). "Eleanor McLean and the Murder of Parley P. Pratt" (PDF). BYU Studies 15 (2): 225–56. 
  5. ^ Smith, Robert J. (4 April 2008). "Relatives get OK to disinter, move Parley P. Pratt". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  (reprint by Church News)
  6. ^ "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, Central Arkansas Library System
  7. ^ 2008 Deseret News Church Almanac, Salt Lake City: Deseret News.
  8. ^ Gauldin, C. Alan (13 November 1999). "Arkansas institute building dedicated". Church News. 
  9. ^ Keogh, Rochelle (29 July 2006). "Display integrity, apostle tells youth". Church News. 
  10. ^ "Latter-day Saints to Mobilize Another 4,000 Volunteers in Chainsaw Brigade’s Second Wave" (Press release). LDS Newsroom,. 16 September 2005. 
  11. ^ "Joining Hands as Neighbors and Now Friends" (Press release). LDS Newsroom. 13 September 2005. 
  12. ^ Bendall, Carolyn (29 April 2006). "Church members help with clean-up, roof repair". Church News. 
  13. ^ Helping Hands at angells.com
  14. ^ "'Dream' relief provided in Louisiana". Church News. 18 October 2008. 
  15. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 2 August 2003
  16. ^ "Wing Media Group". Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Schroeder, Jeff. "Q-and-A with FLW host Carlton Wing". FLW Sports. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  18. ^ New stake presidents, Church News, November 16, 2013 
  19. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 28 July 2007
  20. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 24 June 2006
  21. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 22 March 2008
  22. ^ "New stake presidents". Church News. 3 January 2009. 
  23. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 22 October 2005
  24. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 15 March 2008
  25. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 21 January 2006
  26. ^ "Ash Flat Branch". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "Leader Biographies: Elder David A. Bednar". LDS Newsroom. 
  28. ^ About Dr. Wally Goddard, drwally.org
  29. ^ Little Rock AR Faculty Directory, Church Educational System
  30. ^ "Leading school board associations". Church News. 3 March 2007. 
  31. ^ "Powerlifter earns 3 Special Olympics medals". Church News. 16 Aug 2003. 
  32. ^ "Mormon non-athletes at the Olympics". Deseret News. 17 Aug 2008. 

External links[edit]