History of Trinity Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church on Petit Jean Mountain is one of the oldest Lutheran churches in Arkansas. The Little Rock and Fort Smith Railway granted 20 acres of land for the church and cemetery in the late 19th century. Church members built the simple, white-frame church with its steep-pitched roof immediately after the congregation organized in 1886. Both the exterior and the interior, which features the original hand-planed pews, is little changed from its original construction.
The church sits at the site of the former community of Wittenberg, where German immigrants settled in the late 19th century atop Petit Jean Mountain. The church is all that remains of Wittenburg.
The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
In 2015 and again in 2017 the camp received grants from the Arkansas Historical Preservation Program to repair and restore the church building. Through the grants and private donations, restoration was completed in 2018.
History of Petit Jean State Park
The natural beauty and ancient geology of Petit Jean Mountain inspired the establishment of Arkansas' first state park. The park's rustic log-and-stone Mather Lodge and cabins, most of them built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, reflect the mountain's rugged beauty.
Petit Jean State Park remains the flagship of the State Park system. Today the park draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Every time campers travel between Petit Jean State Park and the Lutheran Camp on Petit Jean they cross the historic Davies Bridge, a CCC-built stone arch bridge crossing Cedar Creek.
For more on the history of Petit Jean State Park and the legend of Petit Jean, visit: http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com/history/history_of_petit_jean_mountain.aspx
A century after the founding of Trinity Lutheran Church, a Little Rock pastor saw the potential of the property for a Christian camp and retreat center. Rev. Duane Brunette, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Little Rock, organized a retreat for the youth of his congregation on the grounds, and the camp was born. Brunette's vision became reality as the camp was developed over the next 30 years.
Thanks to many contributions from friends of the camp, today the property includes a large dining hall able to comfortably seat 100, with a commercial kitchen; a large covered pavilion; four heated, bunkhouse-style cabins with bathrooms and showers; a guest cabin; 15 campsites for RVs and tents, with electric and water hook-ups; a bathhouse with showers for the campground; a house for a full-time camp director; a sand volleyball court; a challenge course; a nature trail; and three outdoor chapels.
Trinity Lutheran Church also sits on the site and is still used for worship.
History of the Rockefeller Institute
Winthrop Rockefeller, grandson of industrialist John D. Rockefeller, moved to Petit Jean Mountain in 1953, and over the next 20 years hosted over 200 conferences to address issues ranging from education to agriculture, from political reform to racial harmony. He also served as governor of Arkansas from 1967-1971. His son, Winthrop "Win" Rockefeller (1948-2006) continued his father's philanthropic work.
In 2005, the University of Arkansas system established the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute with a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. The Institute, located on the original Rockefeller ranch across the road from the Lutheran Camp on Petit Jean, continues to carry out Rockefeller's vision of addressing challenging issues through collaboration. For more on the Rockefeller Institute, visit: http://www.livethelegacy.org
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13