Monday, November 30, 2009

Chugiak Visit

Pastor Carlo Rapanut invited me to preach which I appreciate. I have discovered that this really helps connect me with the congregation. I also enjoyed offering an Advent sermon that fit with the worship pattern Carlo had mapped out for Advent. I much prefer this than me coming to deliver a message from the conference. So thanks to Carlo and the people of Chugiak. What a dynamic and growing church!

This is a clip showing their beautiful Advent wreath while the choir sings.

I'll have lots to share next week as I am spending the week visiting all our seven churches on the Kenai Peninsula.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Willow/Nome/St. John


It was quite cold when I left Willow at night after their charge conference. -18! But it was a warm experience to be with this thriving church. This is a picture of BJ Eldred showing me her vast collection of hand stitched stoles and banners.

Pastor Steve Eldred and Fran Lynch work well together as they address the spiritual and physical needs of Willow residents. We would do well to remember that in Willow like many of our churches that important ministries are extended to people who may never attend a worship service. They, too, are God's beloved children.


It was colder in Anchorage than in Nome. I couldn't even bring my new Arctic parka. I am doing some basic training with all SPRC's that includes duties of an SPRC and church conflict. The Nome SPRC was particularly engaged with this which was fun. Pastors David and Julie Elmore are leading this church into some new ministries such as Tuesday school and their Monday night worship.

Julie is showing me around the Nome Community Center office in this picture.

I attended a meeting of their board and learned much about their many vital ministries.

St. John

I think the reason I did not take any pictures during my visit to St. John was nervousness. It was a bit weird to see myself as their superintendent when I had served for ten years as their pastor. But it was great to see old friends and to celebrate the ministries of St. John. This is a major year of transition with the change of a senior pastor, youth pastor, and business manager. Pastor John Dodson has fallen in love with St. John and is leading this church forward.

Next up is Chugiak UMC.

Grace and peace,


Monday, November 16, 2009

Unalaska/Anchor Park/East/Korean

Anchor Park/East
Pastor Jon Disburg leads a game for the East/Anchor Park joint charge conference. Check out the video clip.

Both churches have a parish nurse ministry led by Cathy Feaster. They also have a prayer ministry where people leave prayer requests in the "wall" and take others home with them.


I spent three days in Unalaska with no flight delays. Being with the Wilcox family was a delight. This small church plays a huge role in this rugged and remote community. We simply cannot be there without the mission support of so many United Methodists. They have a thriving Kids Night Out program every Wednesday for 20-30 kids who don't get Christian Education.

Rev. Won Kie Kim is the superintendent of the Korean Mission in the Western Jurisdiction. Our Korean UMC has two superintendents. I told them he was number one and I was number two. I did manage to say hello and thank you in Korean thanks to my iphone. I also encouraged us to overcome the language barrier to be in community with the AUMC.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Palmer and Wasilla Visit

Palmer Fellowship - I had heard that finding the Palmer worship location was a challenge and it was. Armed with GPS and asking a man walking his dog I still had trouble finding it. But when I did there was music drawing me in as the band rehearsed.

Two things were striking about Palmer’s worship space: a beautifully decorated worship table and the excellent music group. I have to say that the addition of a soprano saxophone added tremendously to the music environment.

The Palmer Fellowship has struggled to hang on to their dream of becoming a UM Church. They receive excellent leadership from Pastors Robert and Tori Hicks. I encouraged them to participate in our UM connection and tell their story. I'd like to bring their band to one of our Anchorage gatherings.

Wasilla Christ First UMC. For children’s time they have a separate carpet in front for the kids to sit on. It gives them their special space and keeps them in one location for the message. Not everyone can reproduce this idea but their remodeled worship space drastically changes the worship experience for the better. Chairs instead of pews give them a flexibility for all kinds of ministries.

For years people lamented that this church was too far from town. Now the town has grown to the church! This church has a contagious spirit and has captured a vision. They feel they could become the second largest UM church in Alaska in five years! Wow. I tested this with the congregation and they enthusiastically embrace it. They have 13 acres and a new spacious parking lot and 100 in worship. What a joy to be with this vital and alive congregation.

Grace and peace,

Fairbanks and North Pole Visits

It was my privilege to conduct charge conferences at First UMC, Fairbanks, and New Hope, North Pole over the weekend. It has been a major adjustment for me to not preach/lead worship so I am grateful to Pastor Tom Telfer for the invitation to preach at all three services. This is one vital and energized church! I told them they should change their name to Fun UMC! Led by CE director, Clarice Moore, they had a Hee Haw theme complete with real corn stalks (Where did they get them?). Dozens of people popped up from the corn field and shared a ministry joy. We all shouted out, "Hee Haw!" I took a couple of video clips for you.

My experience at New Hope Presbyterian/United Methodist Church was a great joy as well. We celebrated their newly refurbished education wing. There are many blessings and challenges with being a union church shared with two denominations. Dr. Curt Karns from the Yukon Presbytery was present and having the two of us present was helpful for New Hope to continue to explore this important union. The video below is for you to see their new fellowship/dining room as our meeting was ending.

Happy to be in the AUMC!