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, 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 30,694 members,[1] seven stakes, 74 congregations,[1] and two missions in Arkansas.[1]


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.[2] 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.[3] (On April 2, 2008, Crawford County Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell gave the Pratt family permission to move Parley Pratt's remains to Utah.)[4]

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.[5]

Permanent presence of the church was established on May 30, 1890 when the first 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.[6]

The first institute building, adjacent to the University of Arkansas, was dedicated in the fall of 1999.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9][10]

Arkansas "Mormons" volunteered relief in their own area on several occasions including the April 2, 2006 Tornado Outbreak,[11] and the 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak.[12] In September 2008, Arkansas Latter-day Saints went to the Baton Rouge area to aid cleanup efforts following Hurricane Gustav.[13] Arkansas members from Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Searcy Stakes again provided volunteers to help clean up homes in the Baton Rouge area following the 2016 flood, completing over 1,400 work orders. [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
2018 31,254


Arkansas is currently part of 13 stakes. 7 of those stakes have their stake center within the state. On October 26 the Bentonville Arkansas Stake was established making it the 7th stake in Arkansas. Two stakes were formed in 2014 .[citation needed] 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 T. Paul Martin[15] Lab technician
Little Rock Arkansas June 1, 1969 11 Jared A. Dixon[16] Physician
North Little Rock Arkansas June 19, 1983 8 Carlton V. Wing[17] Sports Fishing Television Producer[18][19]
Rogers Arkansas August 11, 1991 10 Gregory L. Chandler[20] Senior Marketing Director at Walmart Stores
Springdale Arkansas Stake June 4, 2006 10 C. Alan Gauldin[21] General Counsel and Vice-President United-Bilt Homes
Searcy Arkansas January 26, 2014 11 David M. Lewis[22] Physician - Otolaryngology
Bentonville Arkansas Stake October 26, 2014 7 Simon F. Keogh[23] Financial Planner
  • 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 Gary Alan Bronson[24] Vice-President of IT Operations, FedEx
Memphis Tennessee North Sept. 14, 1980 5 Scot Kenneth Canfield[1][25] owner Life Strategies of Arkansas
Monroe Louisiana Aug. 18, 1985 1 John A. Heim[26] Facilities Manager
Shreveport Louisiana Jan. 26, 1958 1 Ross Evan Smith[27] Associate Professor of Music
Springfield Missouri South May 21, 1995 3 Shawn Keith Shanklin[28] Manager at Oschner
West Plains Missouri Nov. 24, 2013 [29] 1 [30]
The North Little Rock Stake Center is also the mission office for the Arkansas Little Rock Mission


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 Arkansas Bentonville Mission, renamed in 2015 from the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission. The far south and southwest parts of the state are in the Mississippi Jackson Mission and the Texas Dallas Mission respectively.

Significant members that lived in Arkansas[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Facts and Statistics" USA-Arkansas". Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Pratt, Steven (1975). "Eleanor McLean and the Murder of Parley P. Pratt" (PDF). BYU Studies. 15 (2): 225–56.
  4. ^ Smith, Robert J. (4 April 2008). "Relatives get OK to disinter, move Parley P. Pratt". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. (reprint by Church News)
  5. ^ "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, Central Arkansas Library System
  6. ^ 2008 Deseret News Church Almanac, Salt Lake City: Deseret News.
  7. ^ Gauldin, C. Alan (13 November 1999). "Arkansas institute building dedicated". Church News.
  8. ^ Keogh, Rochelle (29 July 2006). "Display integrity, apostle tells youth". Church News.
  9. ^ "Latter-day Saints to Mobilize Another 4,000 Volunteers in Chainsaw Brigade's Second Wave" (Press release). LDS Newsroom,. 16 September 2005.
  10. ^ "Joining Hands as Neighbors and Now Friends" (Press release). LDS Newsroom. 13 September 2005.
  11. ^ Bendall, Carolyn (29 April 2006). "Church members help with clean-up, roof repair". Church News.
  12. ^ Helping Hands at
  13. ^ "'Dream' relief provided in Louisiana". Church News. 18 October 2008.
  14. ^ "Mormon Helping Hands assists with flood relief". Arkansas Democrat Gazette. 4 September 2016.
  15. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 27 October 2012
  16. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 1 September 2016
  17. ^ "Local stake," TheCabin.Net, 5 February 2014
  18. ^ "Wing Media Group". Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  19. ^ Schroeder, Jeff. "Q-and-A with FLW host Carlton Wing". FLW Sports. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  20. ^ "New stake presidents," Deseret News, 6 December 2014
  21. ^ "New stake presidents," Deseret News, 6 June 2015
  22. ^ " The Sun Times, 22 January 2017
  23. ^ "New stake presidents", Church News, November 16, 2013
  24. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 7 April 2016
  25. ^ "New stake presidents". Church News. 11 January 2018.
  26. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 31 October 2014
  27. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 29 September 2017
  28. ^ "New stake presidents," Church News, 28 January 2015
  29. ^ "West Plains Missouri Stake". Rick Satterfield. Retrieved 2016-06-03.
  30. ^ "Ash Flat Branch". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  31. ^ "Leader Biographies: Elder David A. Bednar". LDS Newsroom.
  32. ^ "Leading school board associations". Church News. 3 March 2007.
  33. ^ "Powerlifter earns 3 Special Olympics medals". Church News. 16 Aug 2003.
  34. ^ "Mormon non-athletes at the Olympics". Deseret News. 17 Aug 2008.
  35. ^ "State's Mormon mission leader promoted". Arkansas Democrat Gazette. 13 May 2017.
  36. ^ "New Area Seventies Called". Church News. 22 April 2016.

External links[edit]