What a joy it was for me to get to know the people and places of SE Alaska. I had never been to Sitka or Ketchikan. I experienced the patience of waiting in airplanes and being diverted due to poor weather.
I almost didn't make it due to weather but was able to spend about 5 hours with Pastors Teri and Ev and several lay leaders who shared with enthusiasm the long and rich history of First UMC. They have wonderful stories of ministry in Ketchikan that need to be told. I hope to be able to be with this church on Sunday when I return for charge conference. If you get a chance be sure to ask Ev about their Pigs In Mission program. It's great and easily duplicated in your church.
Pastor Luther Oconer, Marion, and Ilena showed me gracious hospitality. Mike drove Luther and me around Sitka and we all bought some Sitka-made chocolate. Luther and Marion have connected with a few Filipino families and a new ministry has already begun. The best part of my visit to Sitka was playing with Ilena who turns 2 this month.
Northern Light, Juneau
Pastor Kim Poole and her mother hosted me in their home. I met with Northern Light's council and worshipped with them on Sunday. She had us all playing with Legos and teaching us about tithing and God's grace. People are happy to have Kim as their interim pastor.
Douglas Community UMC
I used Kim's car to zip across the bridge to Douglas to catch most of worship at this church. Pastor Imelda Ramos led a baptism for a baby that awed everyone there. After worship I met with their SPRC to talk about future pastoral leadership. Imelda and Bob will move to California next summer where she will pursue her doctor of ministry degree.
Last on this whirlwind tour was worship at Aldersgate for Pastor Judy Shook's celebration of being the "settled" pastor. Previously she had been interim. There were clergy and laity from other churches and I was privileged to preach the homily.
God is certainly present and working through the many hands and hearts of Alaska United Methodists in the Southeast! I am grateful to have this experience.