Welcome Letter

Greetings and Blessings to you as you discern the future of your ministry. Thank you for
considering St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Nestled on the banks of the Arkansas River, Fort Smith is a charming city that seamlessly
blends its rich history with the natural beauty of its surroundings. Whether you’re captivated
by its historical sites, engaged by its cultural offerings, or enchanted by its outdoor wonders,
Fort Smith promises an unforgettable experience that bridges the past and the present. The
iconic Fort Smith National Historic Site features original 19 th Century structures that served
as a military outpost and courthouse. Thanks to The Unexpected Project, a unique initiative
of urban and contemporary art, Fort Smith is an open-air gallery of stunning murals and
sculptures. The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center invites you to explore
the diverse ecosystems of the Arkansas River Valley through interactive exhibits and guided
nature trails. Just beyond the city lies the Ozark National Forest, a haven for hikers, campers,
and outdoor enthusiasts. In Fort Smith, history comes alive, and the natural beauty of the
region beckons exploration.

The parish of St. John’s Episcopal Church finds great comfort in the consistency of the
liturgy grounded in Prayer Book worship and the serenity of our music directed by the
professional musician on St. John’s staff, the choir of parishioners, and music student interns
from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. A mature parish, we have enjoyed wide support
for pledging through the years with more than 90% of recent survey respondents stating they
regularly support the church financially. Led by our Sextant and Junior Warden, we maintain
and improve the physical plant through proactive projects. Recently completed projects
include a sanctuary renovation, Victorian house remodel, and stained-glass windows repairs.
We are currently preparing to the update the kitchen in our main building.

The St. John’s community is unified in its desire to serve, eager to work together, and
resilient in the face of challenges. We host Sunday school classes, eucharistic minister
training, liturgical calendar intergenerational events, and the largest EFM group in the state.
The parish enjoys long-standing groups of Saints Alive, Daughters of the King, Vino League,
and Girls Night Out; we also care for our bodies and spaces through vestry safeguard
training, parish yoga, and a biweekly clean walk group. The St. John’s tech team, established
in 2020, remains in place today to live-stream services and post recordings online for later
viewing. This ministry reaches shut-ins, former members in distant states, and digital
‘visitors.’ We have opened our facilities to host community wide events like Mind Stretchers
Lecture Series, Ozark Bronze Bell Choir, UAFS Opera, LGBTQ group, and AA group.

St. John’s represents dedicated service and engagement with our downtown, greater area
communities, and the Diocese of Arkansas. Building upon a long history of loving and
serving the surrounding community, the parish opens its arms and cares for its
undernourished and underinsured neighbors. St. John’s joins and coordinates with other
downtown churches and public and private agencies in “Neighbors on the Block” working
through Crawford-Sebastian Community Development Council to improve the lives of low-
income individuals and families and the communities in which they live. We partner with
Community Rescue Mission to help the unhoused populations in our region and provide
shelter for the Good Samaritan Clinic, which has provided medical care to the uninsured
since 2003. The Sack Lunch Program, born out of the doors of St. John’s, is now a multi-
denominational volunteer program that serves 1200 lunches a week to those who are food

We are eager to move forward with what God has planned for us and our new rector.
Inquiries about this full-time position can be made to Jason Alexander, Canon to the
Ordinary, with the Bishop’s office in Little Rock, Arkansas,
at jalexander@episcopalarkansas.org.