Diocese: Diocese of the South
Deanery: Southcentral Deanery
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Roland, OK 74954
SS George and Alexandra Orthodox Christian Mission is located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, at the Arkansas/Oklahoma border.
From Fort Smith via Rogers Ave
Go east through Barling past Highway 59 approximately 1/4 mile, having crossed railroad tracks take first right. Go 3/4 of a mile, Church will be on your right.
From Fort Smith via Zero Street/Highway 255
Go east to where Highway 255 meets Highway 22. Turn right. Go past Highway 59 approximately 1/4 mile, having crossed railroad tracks take first right. Go 3/4 of a mile, Church will be on your right.
From Interstate 540
Exit at Highway 59 South and turn left at the bottom of the exit ramp. Go approximately 8 1/2 miles to where Highway 59 dead ends at Highway 22. Turn left. Go approximately 1/4 mile, having crossed railroad tracks, take first right. Go 3/4 of a mile, Church will be on your right.
Schedule of Services
Services are in English.
6:00 PM Vespers.
9:00 AM Hours ; 9:30 AM Divine Liturgy.
Confessions are heard one-half hour before all Liturgies and before Saturday Vespers.
Please contact the Priest-in-Charge to arrange Baptisms, Marriages, Thanksgiving services, etc.
Please see the parish website for details of additional services throughout the year.
[Will appear after all other details]
In June of 1994, three Orthodox faithful became actively involved in the rebirth of an Orthodox Church in Fort Smith, AR. There is a building which is privately owned, that was once used as St George Greek Orthodox Chapel. Sadly, the building is in grave disrepair as it has not been maintained or used as an Orthodox Chapel since 1974 and even then it was not a full-time parish. The part-time Orthodox Community was considered to be in the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Church due to the fact that the three men who originally owned the building were Greek immigrants and would contact the priest at the Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock, AR for weddings, funerals, etc., in order that they could hear services in a familiar language.
From the beginning in an effort to revive Orthodoxy in the Fort Smith area all segments of the Orthodox Church were contacted. Everyone involved felt that the most important thing was to have an ORTHODOX church regardless of the jurisdiction which they would eventually fall under. There are not this time enough of any ethnic group (Greeks, Russians, Syrians, Albanians, etc.) to support a specifically ethnic church. Some are single people, some are inter-faith couples and some are families. Most of them are second or third generation Orthodox. They are a diverse combination of Greek, Russian, Antiochian, etc.
There had been Orthodox Priests in the area, that celebrated Divine Liturgy, only seven times from June 1994 to June 1996: Fr John Maxwell of St Tikhon’s Seminary: November 1994; Fr Elias Scoulas of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Little Rock: January 1995; Bishop Timothy of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Detroit: July 1995; Fr Bill Christ of Holy Trinity in Tulsa: August 13, 1995; Fr Maxwell, August 20, 1995; Fr Michael Herrick of St Matthew Church in Green Bay, WI, September 1995; Fr Maxwell, April 1996; and Bishop Maximos of the Greek Diocese of Pittsburgh celebrated a Vespers service in June 1996. The local Roman Catholic hospital was kind enough to allow the use of one of their chapels for services. A Subdeacon of the Orthodox Church in America (Constantine Xenos) made himself available for regular Typica (reader) services every Sunday except the first Sunday of every month at which time the faithful had been traveling to other Orthodox Churches (Tulsa, OK - 140 miles, Hartshorne, OK - 95 miles, Little Rock, AR - 168 miles, or Hot Springs, AR - 125 miles). Unfortunately, not all of them have “come home” at the same time to Typica or Divine Liturgy. As can be imagined, because there had not been an active Orthodox Church within 95 miles for many years, most of them have sought out Churches of other denominations or just stopped going altogether. As of November of 1994 when an Orthodox Priest was in the area, we scheduled a Divine Liturgy with everyone being informed.
At a Vespers service in Fort Smith on Friday, June 14, 1996, Bishop Maximos of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh announced to the congregation that after many months of deliberation and in order to foster unity within the Orthodox Church, he “has given his blessing to the planting of a mission by the Orthodox Church in America in Fort Smith, Arkansas”. Fr John Maxwell of the Orthodox Church in America was released from the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania to the Diocese of the South by His Eminence, Archbishop Herman, effective July 31, 1996. Archbishop Dmitri of the Diocese of the South had expressed his willingness to place Fr Maxwell under his omophorion. As of August 1, 1996, Fr John Maxwell has been serving the Church as pastor of SS George and Alexandra Orthodox Christian Mission in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Although Fr Maxwell’s mother was Serbian Orthodox, he grew up in a Protestant home, because his mother converted to his father’s faith. A number of years after becoming an ordained Southern Baptist minister, he, his family, and two other Baptist ministers converted to the Orthodox faith on January 28, 1982.
Fr Maxwell was ordained to the Holy Priesthood seven years later on January 27, 1989. For the next seven years he had served the Church as Rector of SS Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Uniondale, PA. During the same time Fr Maxwell also served St Tikhon’s Seminary in South Canaan, PA as Registrar and as an instructor of both Comparative Soteriology and Evangelism & Missions.
The Mission of SS George and Alexandra Orthodox Christian Church is to serve the religious and spiritual needs of Orthodox Christians, converts, those in inter-faith marriages, and the unchurched in the Fort Smith area, especially, but not exclusively, those whose mother tongue is English.
Our vision for SS George and Alexandra Orthodox Christian Church is to fulfill our mission of outreach to the unchurched. We anticipate keeping the spirit of a small, close-knit, accepting and friendly parish that focuses on the Orthodox Christian liturgical and spiritual life in an outreach of service to the people of our area. We hope to become the spiritual home of all the Orthodox people in our designated area who are looking for a parish that emphasizes liturgical participation, spiritual growth, a full range of education programs and ministries of service and outreach.