Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Vacation

People have asked me how this experience of Christmas was in my new role. I have to say that it has been wonderful. Our entire family was together in Ohio and don't think we ever laughed so hard. My two sons-in-law are hilarious and fit right in with our ever-teasing family.

We spent alot of time with Kim's family and we visited two former churches. I was amazed at how many of the same people are still there after 30 years in one case.

My brother asked me to lead communion at his church which was cool. All in all it was a real vacation where I only checked my work email a few times. Thanks be to God for such holy retreat times.

Grace and peace,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Turnagain and Girdwood Chapel

Only two churches to share with you this week. But are they ever alive and vital!

Who says a gray-headed congregation has to act a certain way? Turnagain UMC even has a retired pastor, Dale Kelley, but are they ever alive! They are reclaiming their mission and purpose, changing and rearranging the building, and reaching out to their neighborhood with the Good News of Christ. They even have a new youth group with 15 teens and a new youth director, Drew Phoenix.

My apologies for not taking any pictures or video. I was too busy being inspired!

Girdwood Chapel
Two worship services, holy communion with a cantored liturgy, children everywhere, a mother bolting out of a pew holding a throwing up child, visual aids projected on the wall, holy excitement. This are some of my impressions with visiting Girdwood.
Here they are blessing each other in a benediction song.

They are hoping to be in their new building by spring. Water is hooked up thanks to a generous donation of labor from a contractor connected with the Turnagain church! This church is discovering new ways to be in mission in their community despite the building delays. Here is a clip of Girdwood saying hi.

Kim and I are flying to Ohio for Christmas. I hope you all find a few moments in your busy days to reflect on God coming to be with us.

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kenai Peninsula Churches

It was a joy to be back at my old church. It's been over ten years and I tried to be sensitive to those who have come to SUMC after I left, but it was hard not to take rabbit trails down memory lane! As with most of our churches I conducted a training for SPRC. Here is a picture of Richard Whetsell making his pastor's report.

Seward/Moose Pass
Pastor Peter had us playing a charge conference jeopardy game which was a blast!

We had to postpone Kenai's conference due to weather until Saturday afternoon. Pastor Marti Slater is in her second year and tells me the Kenai church is the most welcoming church she has ever experienced! Way to go, Kenai!

Charles and Karen Martindell and I have been friends for over 25 years. They were appointed to the church I left to come to Soldotna in 1991. It was great to see their nearly finished building with sun room, fellowship, kitchen, and expanded sanctuary. Here is Charles in the new kitchen.
Charles gave me a part of their skit in worship which highlighted the ministries of the church. Here is Charles hamming it up.

I am sorry to not spend more time with the saints at St. Peter the Fisherman. But my time there was rich. My first Alaska VIM trip was to Ninilchik in 1986 where we stayed with pioneers, Floyd and Marian Blossom. Pastor Julie Wasser is one of our two local pastors and works one quarter time providing full ministries for 35 people on Sunday mornings.

I was impressed with the large turnout for this church on the north road in Nikiski. The area has been hit with the departure of oil and gas industry. I do believe however that Northstar has the largest youth ministry on the Kenai. There were four teens attending the charge conference!

I put 750 miles on my truck in 5 days. It was a rich experience and I can tell you that God is at work in wonderful ways on the Kenai Peninsula!

Grace and peace,