FORT SMITH – Dale Thompson, known throughout northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas River Valley as “Brother Dale,” has retired from the full-time pastorate after nearly 28 years.
Thompson, 70, became the pastor of First Baptist Church, Fort Smith, in February of 1992, after serving as the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, Rogers.
“I can honestly say that my nearly 28 years here at First Baptist, Fort Smith, have all been really good years,” smiled Thompson, adding, “Actually, all 47 of my years as a pastor have been wonderful.”
J. Michael Carroll, an accountant and member of First Baptist since 1977, said he recently was asked to complete a questionnaire for an organization, which included the question: “Who is the living Arkansan I most admire the most?”
“My response was, ‘My pastor of the past 28 years, Dale Thompson. He has celebrated with me in times of blessing and counseled me during times of challenge. His fingerprints are all over my life,’” wrote Carroll.
“God has blessed Bro. Dale with an unusual combination of talents. He is, without a doubt, one of the most gifted communicators of God’s Word in the Southern Baptist Convention and an extremely gifted administrator. That is a rare combination! He is an incredible example of a servant leader.”
In a story that aired on 5 News, the Fort Smith/Fayetteville TV station, Jacob Ray, the worship pastor at First Baptist, said he has grown up with “Brother Dale” as his pastor and says he’s the same person at the pulpit that he is behind closed doors.
“It’s been wonderful. I’ve loved it, I’ve loved being with him. I’ve loved serving with him. I would do anything for him. He has just greatly impacted my life and my wife’s life and we are very grateful for him,” Ray told 5 News.
On Sunday, Nov. 24, First Baptist hosted a special service honoring Thompson and his wife, Toni. The church auditorium was filled to capacity with church members, community leaders, former church staff and long-time friends.
Sen. John Boozman, who has been a friend of Thompson for more than 40 years, was in attendance. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a long-time friend of Thompson, sent a pre-recorded video message thanking Thompson and Toni for their friendship and his great impact on his life and the lives of countless others.
Speakers during the celebration service were Eric Ramsey, associate pastor of First Baptist; Thompson’s sons: Tad Thompson, pastor of Covenant Church, Siloam Springs, and Tyler Thompson, pastor of Westwood Baptist Church, Greenwood; Bill Hulse, pastor of Putnam City Baptist Church, Putnam City, Okla.; Kendall Lucas, worship pastor of Denton Bible Church, Denton, Texas, and Mike Carroll, a deacon and church leader at First Baptist.
In addition to serving as pastor of the church, Thompson has been the host of Hope from Above, a weekly broadcast of First Baptist. The live TV broadcast of the church began in 1953, making it one of the longest-running live weekly TV broadcasts in the world. It also has one of the largest viewing audiences among local live programming in its market.
“There’s really not much about me worth celebrating,” said Thompson, “We celebrate our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let’s make much of Him.”
In January 2020, Blake Boylston, who currently serves as assistant pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., will assume the pastorate of First Baptist.
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