FROM THE PASTOR
The Mission of First Lutheran Church is to Preach, Teach, and Outreach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the ministries of our church and school, we want all people to grow in our relationship with Jesus. First Lutheran Church is affiliated with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, the eighth largest Protestant denomination in the United States and the second largest Lutheran body. The word Synod means “walking together”. As a ministry, we have been walking together in the Fort Smith area since 1853. God has blessed us for over 165 years and will continue to bless us as we move through the 21st century. Jesus Christ has given us the gift of eternal life by His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. Our desire is to live and share that gift of abundant life, and we would love to share it with you. You are welcome to join us in living that life by serving God and our neighbor.
Pastor John Merrill
MISSION & VISION STATEMENT
Mission of 1st Lutheran Church & School
Recognizing the call of our Lord Jesus Christ to "go and disciple all nations", First Evangelical Lutheran Church and School of Fort Smith, Arkansas, will equip the members of the congregation and students of the day school to be disciples of Christ while reaching out to bring others to be followers of the Lord Jesus - that all may have abundant life now, as well as life eternal, through God-glorifying worship, the grace-delivering Word and Sacraments, Gospel-centered education, and Christ-like acts of caring.
Vision of 1st Lutheran Church & School
The Mission of First Lutheran Church is to Preach, Teach, and Outreach with the Gospel of Christ. Therefore, we shall, as a congregation, through the power of the Holy Spirit, reach out to all people and all families, regardless of their age and background, so that we all may grow in our relationship with Jesus.
“In Christ, for the Church and the World.”
Commitment to Christ
Our Faith is grounded in a living relationship with Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord.
Our Worship centers in praise to God the Father, Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Our Message is the Good News of salvation in Christ. We make Him the focus of everything we believe and do, from worship, to activities, to community outreach. Within our community, we share God’s love, as we share a love and acceptance of each other.
First Lutheran Church and School is a part of the larger church body, the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. Here is a summary of our beliefs and practices:
In the year 1843, a small party of German Lutherans (six families) immigrated from Saxony and settled in what is now called Long Prairie, about twelve miles south of Fort Smith. During the next seven years other families arrived from Saxony and settled in Long Prairie also. To be sure they were not without services, as early as 1848, it is reported that Lutheran sermons were read on Sundays in the house of Mr. Gottlieb Ellig. However, the need of a church building and of a Christian day school became more apparent as the children in these families began to grow up. Accordingly, on Christmas Day, 1852, a meeting was called at which the organization of a congregation was decided upon, and a reader elected for regular Sunday services. A log house which was to serve a both church and school was planned. Sometime during that winter of 1853, this log meeting house was built and a teacher, Mr. Carl Reichert, secured from among the membership. Services were held in this building every Sunday, and people of the Lutheran faith who had settled in Fort Smith would drive out to attend these services. READ OUR FULL HISTORY
ARCHITECTURE & SYMBOLISM
Each symbol used in the appointments of First Lutheran Church expresses a truth in the Gospel. Every design is significant and meaningful, and should enrich one’s worship in this church.
The basic plan of our church is in the shape of the Latin cross, which we immediately recognize as a most prominent symbol in Christianity. This is apparent when you look at the interior ceiling, which forms a nearly perfect cross.
The seating area of the church is called the nave. The transept is the area in the front which widens out to form the cross bar of the cross. The sanctuary is the area which holds the altar. The chancel is the area in front of the altar which contains the pulpit and lectern. The entrance area is referred to as the narthex.
The basic colors used in the repainting of our church and their traditional meaning are as follows:
Color of fire, fervor, blood, martyrdom, victorious truth of Christian teaching based on the Blood and righteousness of Christ.
White & Gold
The color used on the altar, walls, and with gold trim used throughout the church, it signified the Godhead, eternity, the robe of the glorified Christ and the angels, perfection, joy and purity. The gold rose pattern in the pew cushions relates to the Messianic Rose. This Messianic Rose also adorns our altar.
This impressive altar is crowned with what is called the “budded cross” Each arm of this cross terminates in the trefoil, which is symbolic of the Holy Trinity.
The colors on the robes of Christ are red, white and gold. On either side of the statue of Christ is a single candle. These two candles are on every Christian altar. When lit, they proclaim the Lord’s words, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). They also symbolize our Lord’s twofold nature – divine and human.
Immediately below the statue of Christ is the Angus Dei – the Lamb of God. It is one of the most ancient symbols of our Lord. The Lamb is resting upon the three arms of the cross, which lies on the Book of Seven Seals, the reference being to the Book of Seven Seals which Christ opens, mentioned in the Revelation of St. John.
The Greek letters Alpha and Omega are on either side of the Lamb of God. These two letters are the beginning and end of the Greek alphabet, like our A and Z. See Revelation 1:8. Christ is the beginning and the end.
On the center of the altar is the missal stand, flanked on either side by the altar flowers.
Below is the scene of the “Last Supper” which we observe and celebrate with our Holy Communion. The consecrated bread and wine are served from our altar. Matt. 26:26, 28; Mark 14:22, 24; Luke 22:19,20.
On either side of the altar are seven candles signifying “the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit”.
The lectern, to the east front of the chancel, is used for the Bible from which is read lessons from the Scriptures. It is in the form of an eagle, the symbol of St. John.
It stands below the lectern. On the front of the font is the “Crown of Life” (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10), a symbolic expression referring to the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Baptism offers forgiveness and eternal life.
Facing the chancel, on the right is the flag of the United States and to the left is the flag of the Christian Church. We are to be responsible in both kingdoms.