Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Family Christmas Newsletter

May the Child of Christmas touch your life.

Dave and Kim Beckett

Monday, December 20, 2010

St. John, Anchor Park/East, First Anchorage, and First Samoan

This was Pastor Peter Perry's first conference as senior pastor of St. John.  St. John is a vital church in transition with new staff on board and more to come next year with the retirement of Rose McLean this summer.  In this clip the staff share what God has been doing in and through St. John. 

Later that same day was the Anchor Park/East joint church conference.   Pastors Jon Disburg and Jenny Smith have formed a cohesive team intent on engaging their churches in mission with their community.  In this video clip they share what God has been doing through the number of hours given by their members.

Last Sunday I worshipped with First UMC, Anchorage to say goodbye to Pastor Deb Lindsay-Hudgins.  Deb is retiring and has accepted a position at Alaska Pacific University.  In this clip Deb offers the benediction.

Leila joined me at First Samoan's conference.  The most touching part was when the widow of their lay leader, Sioka Pogi, read his handwritten report to the conference.  In this clip the congregation sings a benediction song.

I pray for all of our Alaska churches and their leaders.  May you all be renewed and inspired by the presence of Christ this Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Northstar, Kenai, Soldotna, Seward and Moose Pass

I usually put about 700 miles on my truck travelling to all 7 Kenai Peninsula churches.  I saw lots of stars, moose and even a coyote on this trip.  I am so impressed with the youth ministry of Northstar UMC in Nikiski.  I spoke with one teen who is sensing a call into ministry!  Here is a clip of their youth praise band.

The big news at the Kenai church was their name change.  From UMC of the New Covenant to Kenai UMC.  The truth is that people in town had called them this for years.  After the conference I had them celebrate this new name with this clip.

It is always good for my soul to return to Soldotna UMC where I pastored and lived for 7.5 years.  I especially enjoyed my stay at the parsonage thanks to the hospitality of Richard and Karolann Whetsell.  Here's a clip of the Soldotna choir after the conference.

Final stop was Seward for the joint conference with Moose Pass.  Pastor Paul Caseman showed me the demolition of the old Wesley Rehab building owned by the Women's Division.

I'll wait to share about my time at St. John and Anchor Park and East until next Tuesday.  As an annual conference we face several challenges but God still comes to bring hope, peace, joy, and love to the people of Alaska.

Grace and peace,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Palmer, Wasilla, Willow, Ninilchick, & Homer

Lots of church visits to share with you today.  My time with Wasilla Christ First was inspiring.  Strong, growing church with a clear vision for the future.  Willow is always a fun church to visit.  The Lush family are settled into the new parsonage.  Social needs are great and the church is the hub for reaching out to others with the love of God. 

Exciting things are happening at Palmer.  One is a a new Saturday service designed around hockey families in the community.  Here is a clip of the folks sharing what God has been doing in and through their ministries.

In order to go on a date with Kim on Saturday night I got up early to drive to Ninilchik (4 hr) to preach.  What a gorgeous experience to stop in the mountains in the dark and gaze at the stars.  Without the light pollution of Anchorage the heavens were astoundingly bright!  What a wonderful time was had worshipping with the saints at St. Peter the Fisherman UMC.  Here's a clip of opening worship with what I think may be the youngest acolyte in the conference!  Her name is Devon.

On to Homer where we celebrated Pastor Charles Martindell's 53rd birthday.  I felt badly for him having church conference on his birthday.  There was much to celebrate with all that was happening in and through this church.  Here's a clip of the birthday happenings.

That's all for now.  Next up: Nikiski, Kenai, Soldotna, Seward, Moose Pass, St. John, Anchor Park, and East.

Grace and peace,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snowmachines, Skiing, & Anchorage Korean UMC

One thing I learned early on as a rookie Alaskan.  I needed reasons to get outside in this amazing wilderness.  Now I could have stuck with hiking or kayaking.  But I am a man and am drawn to machines!  Motorcycling in the summer and snowmachining in the winter.  I think the reason I enjoy these sports is because they get me out of Anchorage.

Last Friday I took my son-in-law, Aaron Smith, to Turnagain Pass for his inaugural ride.  Sun was shining and the snow was fresh.  A wonderful time enjoying God's creation.

Saturday night was a bit of downhill skiing at Hilltop.  First time for Kim since her Achilles tendon rupture two years ago.  My first time on skiis for many years.  And it was great fun and not a single fall.

Sunday was spent at Anchorage Korean UMC.  All Korean UMC's in the Western Jurisdiction are supervised by Rev. Won Kie Kim, superintendent of the Korean Mission.  Everything was in Korean: worship, SPRC, church conference.  Rev. Kim translated some of it for me.  Here is a clip of their opening worship.

I did encourage them to become connected with other Alaskan United Methodists.

Next stop: Wasilla, Willow, and Palmer!

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chugiak and Girdwood

Sunday morning I stopped by my office on the way to Chugiak for church conference.  I slipped into worship at East to hear our youngest pastor in the conference.  Jenny Smith shared the second of a series dealing with technology and social media.  I had a nostalgic moment when I realized that in 1984 I preached my first sermon in Alaska in that pulpit when John Shaffer was pastor of East.  Jenny was with Kim that day as a two year old.  Now that two year old had grown up, mostly in Alaska, nurtured by the saints of Soldotna UMC and St. John UMC.  Here she was in that same pulpit.  Pretty cool dad moment for me.

The saints at Chugiak are like the energizer bunny.  They keep going and going!  Pastor Carlo Rapanut has an effective ministry and is a pretty good preacher.  They are still using a prayer response I stole and used in Soldotna and St. John years ago.  With just over 200 members and around 170 in worship they are managing a building and mortgage payments the same size as St. John.  Here is a video clip of part of Carlo's video pastor's report.

Then it was off to Girdwood.  They had just recently got some heat in their new building.  Ceiling drywall is being done this week.  A VIM electrician is coming next week.  They hope to be in the new space for Christmas.  Girdwood Chapel is hurting right now.   They have experienced two sudden deaths in their church and community.  The church's ministry is vital to the town and Jim Doepken is the only full-time, resident pastor.  I shared with them about the importance of apportioned giving and how other Alaska churches who are struggling with finances are giving so that churches like Girdwood can thrive.

Have a thankful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It was an amazing weekend on the island visiting with the saints of Unalaska UMC and the Wilcox family.  There was virtually no wind the entire time!  Gorgeous white-capped mountains and calm seas.  Here's a photo of the ballfield which is leased by the church to the city.  Notice the parsonage with the green roof at the far end.
Turnover is very high at Unalaska with the fishing industry as the largest employer.  Pastor Dan Wilcox arranged for a tour of the crab processing plant which was fascinating.  Families move away quite often which creates many challenges for this small congregation.  They depend on Advance funds from other churches and conference support to keep going.  The Wilcox's are the only full time, resident pastoral family on the island.  Unalaska is one of our new Mission Congregations.  With this new designation we as an annual conference are saying that we want this ministry to be there and are willing to support it and help pay for it with our apportionment giving.

Among the many ministries Unalaska UMC has study groups, a new choir, Kids' Night Out, Internet cafe, Second Blessing, and more.  They recently installed a high tech projector in the sanctuary and plan to show movies for families on the island.  There is no movie theater at Unalaska.

Worship was sweet for me as I could gaze at the snow-capped mountains outside and watch the eagles diving and skimming the water.  Here's a video clip.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fairbanks and Nome

Tis the season all UM's conferences!  Pastors and lay leaders dread it because it means preparing paperwork for the superintendent.  But so far the first three of 28 were very positive and hopeful.  Karen Martin-Tichenor invited me to preach at New Hope which I appreciated.  One of their mission fields is children.  I just love that the kids stay in the sanctuary during the sermon and create a craft or drawing which they bring forward during the offering.

I visited First UMC, Fairbanks, twice.  I had the honor of speaking at the Celebrate Recovery service on Saturday evening.  What a needed and blessed ministry!  I returned Sunday evening to lead their church conference which was creative and fun.  First UMC is a happening church with an amazing array of ministries.  Here is a clip of Pastor Tom Telfer sharing a piece of the ministry puzzle.

Then I flew to Nome via Anchorage which was a bit weird.  One of their saints, Esther Bourdon, is in Anchorage in the hospital following heart surgery.  I offered to visit Esther and suggested at their church conference that they sing a song which I recorded on my iphone.  Tomorrow I plan to show the video clip to Esther.  Another example of how God's Spirit moves in and through our connectedness to bring healing and hope.

Next stop: Unalaska!

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our Mission Field

Five Alaskan pastors attended the New Church Leadership Institute in Seattle last week.  Luther Oconer (Sitka), Judy Shook (Juneau), Jenny Smith (Anchorage), Leila Disburg, and myself.  A long time ago I heard a definition of maturity that has stuck with me.  "Maturity is realizing that the most important lessons in life are the ones we thought we already knew."

I was surprised that one of the take-away learnings at the NCLI was so simple.  Focus on your mission field.  You will hear me talk about this at charge conferences which begin this weekend in Fairbanks and Nome.  Do you know your mission field?  If you live in a small town the city limits may contain the mission field of your church.  If you live in a city it might be defined by a major road or a river or mountains.

We are admonished by John Wesley that the world is our parish.  I talked with Bishop Hagiya about the notion that our pastors are appointed, not to a local church, but to a community.  He wholeheartedly agreed.  I invite all of our Alaskan United Methodists to ponder and discuss this question.  What would ministry look like if our focus was more on our mission field than inside the walls of our building?

Let's celebrate ALL God is doing in our churches, both inside and outside.  And when it comes to our church goals for 2011 let's remember to focus on our mission field as we make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Rendezvous Highlights

It was a very full and inspiring gathering with the Alaska UMC lay and clergy leaders in Anchorage last weekend.  I'm going to let my camera do the blogging here and post three video clips from the worship workshop led by Dr. Marcia McFee.

A big thanks to St. John for sharing Marcia with us and for Sandy Langland for this gift in memory of her mother.

The other highlight was the consecration of Girdwood Chapel's new building.  There was no heat but a whole bunch of warmth in that holy space as Bishop Hagiya consecrated the building and ministries of Girdwood Chapel.  Here are two clips.

The only concern I have is that there was not enough time for me to check in with everyone individually.  We try to be good stewards of our time and as it is people still need to leave early.  I just wish we had more downtime to just hang out and talk.

Grace and peace,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Preaching to Presbyterians

My good friend, Dr. Curt Karns, invited me to fly to Fairbanks just to preach to the Yukon Presbytery leadership last Saturday.  This clip is from that service at First Presbyterian.  Curt and I, along with Bishop Michael Keys of the ELCA, and Michael Burke of the Episcopal Church have formed a sort of covenant group.  We meet regularly for prayer, spiritual sharing, and dreaming of real ministry we can do together.

I am excited to announce that next February 25, 2011, our conference leaders and the Lutheran leadership have changed their winter meeting date to coincide with the Yukon Presbytery so we will all meet at the same time in Anchorage.  We are planning one evening together with a light dinner, worship, and, in the Lutheran tradition, table conversation over dessert.  Mark your calendars for this special event.  A coordinating team is being assembled now to work out details.

My main goal in the sermon was to persuade church leaders that significant and systemic change is needed if we are to respond to the world as an authentic expression of the words and acts of Jesus.  The message was well received and many spoke with me afterwards about their desire to reach out to people with a transformed Church.  Here's a link to that sermon. See you at Fall Rendezvous!

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Staying in Touch

Several things to share with you today.

Welcome Dr. Phil Campbell, new pastor of Northern Light Church in Juneau.  Phil and Teresa moved from Denver where Phil was a professor at Illiff Theological Seminary.   You can send them a welcome note to

Fall Rendezvous is next week.  I am looking forward to being with our lay and clergy leaders in Anchorage.  New clergy orientation, Friday worship workshop with Marcia McFee, and the important work of our committees Friday and Saturday.  Bishop Hagiya will bring us an update after dinner on Friday on the 2012 realignment plan of episcopal areas.

We are finding ways to use our new video communications system.  Alaska Children's Services used it to interview CEO candidates.  Clergy taking the Interim Pastor Training used it to check in with their projects.  Leila and I are using it to keep in touch with pastors across Alaska.  You are encouraged to sign up for a free Oovoo account.

Please know that I pray for you all on a daily basis. 

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We Messed Up

An open letter to people who feel disenfranchised by the Christian church

We got it wrong.  For quite some time now the Church has made crucial mistakes.  We have assumed that Church as we have known it will continue without the major changes you have wanted to see.  We have focused more on doctrinal purity than the needs of the poor.  We have tried to start new churches based on our vision rather than your needs.  We have convinced ourselves that we have been loving you but more often than not you have not received our actions as genuine love.  We have held fast to worship practices that keep us entrenched and unable to conceive of the changes necessary to reach your heart with the glory of God.  We have caused division in the Church and the world with our beliefs about who is living in sin.  We have insisted that you accept certain forms of prayer and non-essential beliefs before we accept you into the Church. 

No doubt you could add a few more reasons why you do not want to be part of the Church.  I apologize.  We failed to listen to Jesus when he told his disciples that others would know us by our love.  I am sorry.  We messed up when we have allowed what separates us to be more important than what brings us together.  You have looked at us and decided that Church is not for you if we continue to be the way we are.  And you are right.

The question is, Can we change?  The deeper question is, Can we listen to you?  This is not to say that we should change the essence of who we are as the body of Christ.  We should not abandon the principles of peace, healing, love, and forgiveness that are the core of the life of Jesus and who we need to become.  But can we change the form of who we have become?  Can we love the world without expectation of new members who give generously?  Can we stand up for people who live at the edges of society, those who have no voice among the powerful?  Can we start new ministries that are radical and different, ministries that you would be a part of, ministries that do not replace but exist side by side with ones church people appreciate?

I am a Christian, a disciple of Jesus, filled with God’s Spirit.  Because of this I believe in transformation!  Yes I can change!  And yes, we can change!  So I ask for patience that we will get it and shift how we do Church.  I ask for your forgiveness that we can sense a genuine love for you and the hurting of this world.  And I ask for your prayers that we will embark on a new era of authentic love and compassion, not simply to get more members, but to love this wonderful world God has given us all.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Lay School of Theology

I have a confession to make.  When I was pastor of a local church I rarely made time for the Lay School of Theology.  The third weekend of September is not a good time for pastors.  When St. John would host it I would always sneak in the back and take in some of the excellent teaching, but I never fully committed myself to the entire event.  That is, until last weekend.

I attended Dr. Elaine Heath's class on A NEW KIND OF CHURCH.  Dr. Heath is a professor of evangelism and has started a new monastic, missional community in Dallas called NEW DAY.  You can visit their web site at

I invite you all to learn more about Dr. Heath's missional initiative.  Check out her book titled "Longing for Spring." 

Basically, this ministry is about a leadership team covenanting together for their spiritual journey, living by a rule of life, and being bi-vocational.  Leaders receive their income and benefits from their employer and donate their time to the ministry.  There is no plan to grow a large church.  Anchored to an existing church a new community would consist of 12-20 neighbors gathering in a home for a weekly meal and worship.  Members would become a close-knit community sharing burdens, studying the Bible, being inclusive and diverse, and an advocate of social justice.

Dr. Heath is interested in exploring how this might look in our Alaska communities.  She has a plan for an academy that will develop lay and clergy leaders to start small, missional, monastic communities.  This vision has touched my heart and I wonder how God might be working in our lives to do something similar in Alaska.  So let's pray and talk about it!

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tonight's Dinner is in the Garbage!

This morning I put out the garbage.  Now that Kim and I have an empty nest we have much less trash to put out.  About 5 days ago I prepared some halibut for dinner and put the skins in a bag in the freezer.  We often do this so they won't smell before the next garbage pick up.  So I tossed the bag of what looked like halibut skins into this morning trash. 

At work I had a vague sense of uneasiness when I remembered that Kim suggested I fix halibut for dinner tonight.  Did I throw out tonight's dinner?  So I called Renee, a neighbor, and asked her to go through our trash to rescue tonight's dinner.  At first she couldn't find it.  Then another neighbor came over and asked her, "What are you doing going through Dave's trash?"

Renee called back to say she had found the halibut.  I had indeed thrown out something that was meant to sustain our lives.

How often do we fail to recognize valuable gifts from God that come our way?  Perhaps one comes to us in the form of a homeless person asking for help.  Maybe a gift is hiding behind a frustrated face if we will only offer a smile to unlock it.  Let's be on the lookout for the many gifts from God, gifts that are meant to sustain us and give us abundant life!

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Biblical Literacy and Money Debt

September is a high energy month in the life of our local churches.  People are returning from fish sites, non-stop camping experiences, and world travels.  Summer worship schedules give way to fall and winter times.  And Sunday School kicks off with excitement and anticipation.  It is also the time when many churches give Bibles to their third grade students.

I want to use this moment to highlight the need for Alaska United Methodists to deepen their understanding of the Bible.  Specifically, I challenge pastors and lay teachers to be honest about teaching a view of scripture that moves people beyond literalism.  There is a huge difference between biblical literacy and biblical literalism.  The first is about Bible education while the second is about a particular view of scripture that holds the Bible to be historically true in the actual words.  There is a view that holds to the truth of scripture but not in the literal words. 

I heard a story in my home conference of West Ohio when Bishop Judy Craig was speaking to her clergy.  With her finger pointing she said, "You are not teaching your people what you know."  There are ways to ask questions that lead us to want to know of the truth of scripture without assenting to the historical accuracy of scripture as it is written. Here is a link to an old sermon I preached at St. John in 1997 when I was pastor of Soldotna UMC and a guest preacher at St. John. 

Click on this link to check out a one-page resource on biblical literacy from our General Board of Discipleship.  If you have stories or ideas on Bible education that have helped your people grow in their understanding of how God acted in the stories of scripture please share them with me and we'll find ways to share them with everyone.

Now to a different topic.  At worship at St. John last Sunday Rev. Jo Ann Schaadt delivered a sermon called "Holy Meddling."  She talked about the ways we are called to meddle (hold each other accountable) in each others' lives.  This includes debt.  When all pastors are ordained we are asked historic Wesley questions and one is "Are you in debt so as to embarrass yourself?"  Whether you are clergy or lay let me ask you, "Are you in debt that is causing undue stress and anxiety for you and your family and perhaps affecting the ministry of your church?"  St. John offers a regular class called Financial Peace University which is helping many families look at money from a spiritual and biblical perspective.  So I want to encourage us all to examine our personal stewardship in light of the teachings of Christ when it comes to money.   We are called to lead by example in each of our local churches.

Grace and peace,

Monday, August 23, 2010

United Methodist Passion in Kenai, Alaska

Rev. Marti Slater invited me to preach at United Methodist Church of the New Covenant in Kenai last Sunday.  I combined it with a fishing charter out of Homer with Lonnie Brooks, our conference lay leader.  I spent some time with Charles and Karen Martindell, pastors at Homer UMC.  Charles and I went on a movie date where he introduced me to the famous Homer popcorn.  Then some golf with Revs. Paul Caseman from Seward and Moose Pass, and Richard Whetsell from Soldotna.  The weather, exercise, and fellowship was terrific, but not my golf game!

It was fun to be with the Kenai saints.  I was pastor of Soldotna UMC years ago when we started a joint Ash Wednesday service with Nikiski, Kenai, and Soldotna.  Some of the folks still have a stale marshmallow I gave them 15 years ago!

We looked at Kenai's rich history of including Christians from other denominations.  Today they have a food pantry that is stocked and distributed once a week by church members.  After worship we had a conversation time where we talked about ways to revitalize the church.  One member, Kari Mohn, had a great idea which I want to implement soon.  She could not find anything on our conference web site that described where our apportionment dollars go here in Alaska.  I promised her it would be there within 30 days.

Here's a clip of the benediction song they sing at the end of every service.

Grace and peace,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Remembering Rev. Dick Heacock

Last Tuesday I flew to Fairbanks for the memorial service for Richard Heacock, long time Alaska pastor and prophet. The service was beautiful in the sanctuary of First UMC. Pastor Tom Telfer led us well with an appropriate balance of anecdotes, humor, and the gospel truth of our faith. I was astounded at the huge choir who was present at this weekday afternoon service.

Retired pastor Walt Hays and his wife, Jo Ann, were present. Walt represented so many other of Dick's colleagues over the years and did a masterful job of talking about Dick's life and faith. Here is a quote from Walt: "On these visits, I would often pick up the miniature bronze statue of “Swords into Plowshares” statue that was shelved in his living room.
The great statue was given to the UN by Russia for its outdoor statuary garden in 1969. I must confess that I would pick it up just to hear Dick respond in that great bass voice with the works from the second chapter of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into
pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up swords against nations, neither
shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) Dick’s great spirit has blessed my life and the lives of many. We truly give thanks for his life and ministry."

The big surprise for me was the impromptu ending. Dick's family members led us in singing the chorus "We Are Marching in the Light of God." It was really cool. Here's a clip.

One more thing. While walking around downtown Fairbanks I came across this hanging flower basket. Just had to share with you all the beauty of Fairbanks, not only the flowers but the land and the people, people like one of our saints, Dick Heacock.

Grace and peace,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Energy and Passion in Palmer!

Wow! What a great worship experience with our Palmer Fellowship last Sunday. A new place in the basement of the Country Cutts building with handicapped access, new carpet, new chairs. Pastors Robert and Tori Hicks are leading this renewal in what could be described as a church restart. In this video clip see if you can notice Tori's toes keeping time with the music.

Palmer was started years ago as a satellite campus of our Wasilla church. What we need now is the blessing and support of the Alaska conference. One of the ways they are rethinking Church is by listening to hockey families. So they will consider shaping their church's ministry around the needs of hockey families to discover and nurture their spiritual lives.

So please join me in praying for our ministry in Palmer. Check out their new web site at

Grace and peace,

Monday, July 26, 2010

Interim Minister Training in San Francisco

To all of our Alaska clergy let me offer a suggestion when scheduling your continuing education this year...Consider doing it with other colleagues. It's way more fun!

20 experienced pastors from the west gathered in San Francisco in a Catholic retreat center with lots of signs beginning with "Do NOT" and blocking software that would not allow us to get on Facebook. Alaska had the most with six: Tom Telfer from Fairbanks, Kim Poole from Juneau, Ev Erbele from Ketchikan, Leila Disburg from Anchorage, myself, and Bishop Hagiya.

We learned about how to be an intentional interim minister which is different from filling the gap between pastorates. The interim minister has a specific time with specific tasks which include dealing with a church's history, see its identity, acknowledge changing leadership, strengthening the denominational connection, and living towards the future. One mantra we heard over and over was: The Interim Minister is responsible for the process, not the results!

This was Phase One. Phase Two involves doing two case studies with Phase three returning to San Francisco in January.

We walked around during limited free time. Ask Ev Erbele about her dumpster diving and finding a decent roller bag. People didn't know much about Alaska so it was fun to tell our stories. It helped that we had people from four different parts of Alaska.

So maybe your next CE experience could be done with a few colleagues. Maybe you'll laugh like we did in San Francisco. Here's a clip.

Grace and peace,

Monday, July 19, 2010

God Is Doing a New Thing at East Anchorage UMC

On Sunday, July 18, East Anchorage UMC received about 40 new members, all part of a new Samoan fellowship. Former local pastor, Fa'atafa Fulumua, from the Hawaii District, has been giving leadership to a band of Samoan United Methodists in Anchorage. Now they are full members of East Anchorage UMC. There will be an English speaking worship service and a Samoan language service on Sundays. Tafa also serves as the choir director for the English speaking choir.

Here is a video clip of Pastor Jon Disburg and the congregation welcoming their newest members.

Pastor Jon Disburg did a masterful job of weaving the story of Elisha and the salt in the bowl with how God wants to do new things in the world. At the risk of embarrassing Jon I recommend any of our clergy or lay preachers who want to improve their preaching skills to request a consult with Jon.

We truly received a glimpse of the diversity and full inclusion of the reign of God on earth. Here is a clip of the Samoan choir.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Remembering Della

Our only ordained native Alaskan pastor died on July 4. Here is part of what I shared at her memorial service at Turnagain UMC.

There are many words that form in our minds we would use to describe Della. The one that comes to me is “bridge.” Della was a bridge of love, understanding, and grace between people who came from different backgrounds. One morning in the bathroom while listening to the radio I smiled as the reporter interviewed this native Alaskan woman who was teaching native dance to children and youth in White Mountain. She was using their love of basketball to encourage them to dance. It was, of course, our Della.

When Pastor Dale told me Della was in the hospital and not doing well I walked into her room. She was unresponsive and surrounded by family. As I looked on this diminutive woman who could no longer talk or sing or caress a loved one I was struck by her power. This was a spiritual giant in a very short package! I touched her forehead as we prayed. Even in this state she was sending forth the love and grace of God. We could feel it.

Rev. Jim Campbell, longtime Alaska missionary pastor and friend of Della, wrote this poem in her honor. Those of us who experienced Della's stories while she created a doll from her cuspuk will certainly smile when we read.

The Cuspuk Doll

Jim Campbell

Her hands cast wonder
folding, transforming her cuspuk.
A yard of string
twisting, binding the cloth
until from her garment,
this identity that wrapped her body,
there emerged the likeness of a doll
faces transfixed by the weave of her hands
now melting to a Christmas morning smile.

Over and over it happened.
All across the land it happened.
Each town,
each stop on the agenda of places to be by five o’clock,
each plead for her people that were starving in Chukotka,
each feast attended for those who had no bread,
there came the hope moment,
that transforming moment,
that gospel moment of all things made new,
that moment of the parable of the doll.

Della made other dolls,
hands of an artist given to beading, sewing, carving…..
dolls of the Anchorage museum,
life like dolls of her people,
dolls of worth and beauty and display.
Della bore the standard of craftsman.
She distilled the beautiful,
the colors and foods of the changing seasons,
the rhythm of the beat of the drum,
the telling of stories,
especially stories to the children,
who gathered with her on the floor,
as she made her cuspuk doll
and told of times when that was all she had.

Hands, stilled….. folded,
her blessings complete.
So many lives yet sway in the wake of her Sunday prayers,
heart prayers in this sanctuary,
to the Creator,
to whom, in this moment
We lift up our dear friend…….
daring to notice in the hand of God,
a yard of string,
waiting to make,
one more new creation.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 4 in Seward, Alaska

I just love being in Seward on July 4 for the Mt. Marathon race and festivities. It is such an Alaskan event steeped in history. Ever since Duane Chase and family lived in the parsonage our family has camped out on the lawn to cheer for the runners, catch up with old friends from the Kenai, see Anchorage folks, and eat of course.

It also happens around the time of the first Sunday when a new pastor arrives. Rev. Paul Caseman jokingly tried to charge me for the spot. I reminded him who arranged for him to be in Seward and Moose Pass!

Here's a short clip of the race that ends with Paul and Patti watching. Patti is the one with a bag of kettle popcorn. She and I discovered a mutual addiction to the snack!

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big Changes for Willow UMC

Last Sunday I volunteered to be the interim preacher between Steve Eldred and Dan Lush. It was a great day with a special charge conference to approve a bridge loan and name the Merrill parsonage after member and builder, Mark Merrill, welcoming a VIM team from Virginia, potluck, praying for Dan and Maggie, and dedicating the new parsonage. This video clip has Fran Lynch welcoming the VIM team in worship.

After the parsonage dedication the VIM team unloaded the Lush's moving van. Dan and Maggie, Shenandoah, and Cassidy are settling into a brand new parsonage to begin their year of interim ministry at Willow. Here is a clip of the parsonage at the time of the unloading.

I invite you to include in your prayers our churches experiencing a pastoral transition this week. Willow, St. John, Seward and Moose Pass, Jewel Lake, East, Anchor Park, Douglas, and Northern Light.

Grace and peace,

Monday, June 21, 2010

PNW Commissioning and Ordination

Last week Kim and I attended the Pacific Northwest annual conference in Tacoma. The partnership between Alaska and PNW has grown and strengthened since we were linked a few years ago. We share a bishop, treasurer, benefits officer, and foundation. Our Professional Ministries Unit functions as a district committee on ministry and certifies candidates for ministry to the PNW Board of Ministry.

Two new pastors coming to Alaska were commissioned and ordained last Saturday. Jenny Smith was commissioned as a provisional elder and has two years of supervision before her ordination. Here is a photo of her commissioning. Note the proud papa standing in the back.

Jenny and Aaron and beagle, Zoe, are driving through Canada on their way to Anchorage where Jenny will be associate pastor with Jon Disburg at East and Anchor Park.

Cindy Roberts is moving from rural Idaho to Douglas and is quite excited about joining the Alaska family. Cindy was ordained an elder. You can't see her in this video clip with all the bishops surrounding her but you can hear the audio.

Here is a photo of our Alaska team at PNW. It was an impromptu picture that unfortunately did not include Leila Disburg who was also at the conference.

We now have nine PNW members serving in Alaska: Tom Telfer, Jo Ann Schaadt, Deb Lindsay Hudgins, Robert and Tori Hicks, David and Julie Elmore, Jenny Smith, and Cindy Roberts which represents a third of our clergy. This is a testament to the strong relationship we enjoy with PNW.

Joining Jenny and Cindy will be Phil Campbell going to Northern Light in Juneau, Paul Caseman going to Seward and Moose Pass, and Dan Lush going to Willow. And let's not forget Peter Perry going to St. John. I hope you'll take a moment to send them a welcoming note. Email addresses are available at

This is an exciting time as we ponder what it means to have a vision cast before us: 20/20 Vision: Leading to God's New Horizons.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Alaska United Methodist Annual Conference

Words to describe annual conference: Fun, entertaining, joyful, worshipful, respectful, compassionate. You likely have other words to add. Words such as these are not usually associated with an annual conference of the United Methodist Church. Here are some video clips of Bishop Hagiya at the basketball challenge.

One of the highlights for me was the First Samoan choir. Evidence of our heartfelt connection was powerful in the debate and decision we made to support this congregation with their mortgage. Then they came to say thank you with a song to start our worship Saturday evening. Here's a clip.

Bishop Hagiya was at Chugiak to preach and baptize Titus Rapanut, son of Pastor Carlo and Radie Rapanut. At St. John Rev. David Fison's Christmas totem pole was blessed and erected on the lawn for all to see. Here's a clip.

Next stop for me is a week's vacation with family, then PNW Annual Conference for the commissioning of Jenny Smith and ordination of Cindy Roberts.

Grace and peace,

Monday, May 31, 2010

Encounter with Bruce

Last week I attended the Anchorage Assembly as they dealt with the issue of homeless camps. Rev. Michael Burke, pastor of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Anchorage, is a good friend and articulate spokesperson for the homeless. He has the credibility of 20 years of visiting homeless persons around Anchorage. Several of his members do not have a place they call home.

At a recent forum on homelessness the leaders at St. Mary’s taught me that it is very important to be in relationship with the poor, to look them in the eye and speak their name.

Recently I was coming out of Fred Meyer with my lunch in hand, headed back to the office. A man approached me in the parking lot and asked me if I had 20 cents. I had become used to projecting my steel side that protected my wallet and I really did not have 20 cents in change and told him so. I was surprised that he did not follow up with another request. As I was securing my lunch in my motorcycle bags he was admiring my bike. I asked his name. “Bruce,” he said. “Hi Bruce. I’m Dave.” We chatted for a bit and then parted.

Okay, before I pat myself on the back for this response, let’s fast forward to later that night. I’m lying in bed trying to sleep when I heard God speak. “Why didn’t you ask Bruce if he was hungry? You could have given him your lunch.” I pounded the bed! Why didn’t I think of this?

I share this with you because I have much to learn about the poor. I have so many layers of white middle-class privilege that need to be peeled away. Being a Christ follower does not always make me comfortable. But facing up to the ways I have been shaped by my culture can help me see the humanity in another child of God.

So what barriers do you automatically erect in such circumstances? Friends, we really need to be in authentic relationship with all of God’s children. This is especially true for the poor.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Motorcycling to Moose Pass

I had the opportunity last weekend to preach at Moose Pass and Seward while Peter Perry was leading a family wedding in Nevada.  The sun was shining on Saturday afternoon in Anchorage and although it was cool (50 degrees) I decided to venture forth on my trusty Suzuki motorcycle.

I've driven the Seward highway hundreds of times over the past 18 years but never with the view afforded by a motorcycle.  It was spectacular and exhilerating!  Motorcyclists have created an award for those hardy souls who can ride long distances.  It's called the Iron Butt award.  I'm here to tell you that there is no iron in my butt.  I had to stop frequently along the way which was fine with me and my stiff body.  I tried to find Jim and Kay Shock's cabin near Moose Pass but couldn't find it and ended up on an ATV trail.  All part of the adventure!

In Seward John Dodson, interim pastor of St. John, was there to speak to a large group of Boy Scouts.  So he and I enjoyed dinner and hanging out together at the Seward parsonage.

Riding to Moose Pass early Sunday morning was quite the chilling experience.  It was great to see Rev. Chuck Young and the congregation there.  Back on my bike and I walked into the Seward church 2 minutes before 11.  People are not happy that Peter and Karen are leaving them but they understand our system and are looking forward to welcoming Paul and Patty Caseman.  Life is full of transitions.  One woman told me that she will look forward to visiting St. John when she travels to Anchorage.  I told her she could see if Peter was preaching any Seward sermon reruns!

Life and ministry in the Alaska conference continues to be full of adventure and joy because of our Pentecost God who fills us with Holy Spirit love!

May the Fire burn in your heart!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Worship at Turnagain UMC

I wanted to see the new energy and enthusiasm at Turnagain UMC for myself last Sunday. Pastor Dale Kelley came out of retirement last summer to Turnagain. She wasn't there very long having recently completed a year of interim pastoring at First Christian Church. Her interim period at TUMC is being extended for a second year as the congregation works to reestablish a stronger base to afford a full time pastor.

Since arriving last summer Turnagain's worship attendance has doubled. Nine new members were received since Christmas and many upgrades have happened to their building.

Some churches think that having a young pastor with a family is key to growing their church. Well, Pastor Dale is not (Sorry, Dale) young, nor does she bring a family other than dear friend and fellow church servant, Joan Flowers. So why is Turnagain UMC turning around? I encourage you to ask Dale. My answer in part has to do with the one question she asked when she arrived. When confronted with all the reasons why they could not do this or that ministry due to outside groups using their building she heard, "They've been here for a long time. We don't want to hurt their feelings." To this Dale asked over and over, "Is it the mission of this church to be in the landlord business or the disciple-making business?" It was this question that sparked a conversation in that church that eventually led them to gracefully exit a group or two that was part of the renewal at Turnagain.

Lay and clergy leaders. What ministries or events are you doing that may be taking energy away from our primary mission of making disciples for Jesus Christ?  Ask Dale to tell the story of Turnagain's turnaround. There just might be something in it that could be reproduced in your church.

Grace and peace,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meeting with the Governor

Last Friday an ecumenical group of church leaders were invited to meet with the governor about the high rate of domestic violence offenses in Alaska. He wanted to hear from us about ways to address this serious problem. It was noted that this issue is present in both our rural villages, small towns, and big cities. He told us that if you were ride in an Anchorage police car for an evening that 60% of the calls would be related to domestic violence.

Our ecumenical group had met before and had created a religion map of Alaska which we presented to Governor Parnell. Truth be told it was my idea and Crystal's work. It lists every town or village in Alaska in table format with the number of denominations present. You can check it out by clicking on this link to our web site.

We agreed to do what we could apart from what state government is doing. We plan on creating a simple statement that reflects our scriptural principles about the dignity and respect of all people. We are in strong agreement with recent TV ads with the message that "Real Alaskans Choose Respect."

So I encourage pastors to consider preaching a sermon on this subject. You might post a help line number in your restrooms. Include those hurt by domestic violence in pastoral prayers. The sad truth is that there are people in our churches who are afraid to talk about this family secret. We feel that awareness is an important step in bringing the healing love of God to families in need.

Grace and peace,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Immigration Reform Rally

Last Saturday Kim and I participated in a rally in Anchorage designed to draw attention to the need for changes to our nation's immigration laws. It has been a long time, probably since high school, since I was cursed verbally and with hand gestures. I was taken aback by the anger of some passing drivers and wondered if they truly understood why we were there. Did they assume that we were advocating that we open our borders to let everyone into our country?

This event was sponsored by the nonprofit group, Reform Immigration for America, who believes that our immigration laws are broken and need fixing. All three of Alaska's federal legislators agree. Despite the naysayers it was encouraging to see the people who drove by honking and giving their thumbs up. To see more of what this group's principles go to

How do these principles match with our United Methodist Social Principles? Here's what our church says: ¶ 162 H) Rights of Immigrants — We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education, and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.

So I encourage all Alaska United Methodists to become aware of the issue and to let our legislators know that we need this to be our next national discussion. Please take some time to hear some of the stories of those who live in the shadows. Listening is one of the first things we learn about Jesus' ministry. It should be a primary component of our common ministry.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Real Alaskan United Methodist Story

Yesterday I met a legend of a man. His name is Jim Hitchcock, a seasoned builder of log buildings. Shane Inch called me to see if I could give Jim a hand at Birchwood Camp. Steve Sweezey, camp manager, and Charley Brower, our AUMC Native MInistry Committee chairperson, and I spent a gorgeous afternoon working with Jim. Our task was to help Jim build a log cross on the inside of the new building that would give support for the wall.

Jim has been building log buildings for 50 years in Alaska. He mills his own logs and has tons of experience and wisdom. It was a joy to just watch him work and talk. Jim has built most of the log buildings at Birchwood Camp.

Between whaling stories from Charley, wilderness first aid stories from Steve, and log stories from Jim I counted that opportunity to get out of the office a joy.

Grace and peace,

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Your Church Can Do for People Without Homes

Last Sunday I attended a Homeless Forum designed to educate faith communities about the complexities of homelessness. Pastors and staff from St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Anchorage have been ministering to and with homeless persons for 20 years. They visit the homeless camps and listen to their stories.

They have a creative and simple ministry that I want to pass on for your consideration. It is called "Helping Hands." People bring in items like granola bars, toothpaste, hair brush, etc. Then a group assembles them in clear plastic bags which are distributed to families in the church. They keep them in their cars and offer them to people asking for help on street corners.

I would ask you to add that you invite your people to look them in the eye and ask them their name. As God's people we can be the body of Christ offering a kindness and a look into their soul to remind them that God knows their name and loves them very much.

Issues of homelessness may be different in each of our Alaskan communities. Some are visible. Others are invisible. But they are there and this is a small action we all can do to break down the walls of fear that keep us from responding to people who have no home.

If you would like to see the power point presentation which Rev. Michael Burke, pastor of St. Mary's, make on Sunday please let me know and I'll try to get it for you.

Grace and peace,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Immigration Reform

Yesterday I attended an event in Anchorage sponsored by the nonprofit group Reform Immigration for America. Molly Haigh, their Alaska director, met with me last week to tell me about this bi-partisan effort to enact humane immigration laws.

At the event at St. Mary's Episcopal Church I met Maria, a Filipino woman whose family has been in Anchorage 7 years. Due to the economic downturn her husband's company was quitting business. It was his business that provided the visas for their family to be here. Through tears she shared that they have been told that they will be deported.

There were many people who have similar stories, stories of separation and fear. I was asked to speak and offer a prayer. Because we United Methodists have already declared a position on this issue in our Social Principles I was able to stand up and speak for our church. What a marvelous gift to witness moments when the desires of Church and society come together in a common purpose.

Everyone is saying that our immigration system is broken. With health care reform accomplished many are hoping that the nation's attention will focus on immigration reform. The time has come. As people of faith we can raise this banner as we join to give those who live in the shadows a chance to come into the light.

Grace and peace,

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Moment at St. John

One of the gifts of my new role as superintendent was to sit with my wife, Kim, our two sons, and friend during Easter worship at St. John UMC, Anchorage. Rose McLean, was the preacher. She delivered a remarkable message that included the intriguing thought that Mary was committed to her grief. So much so that she was not able at first to hear the good news that he had risen. She helped me think about the ways I fail to see Christ's resurrection in the world around me because I cannot let go of my grief. I take this to mean my desire for sympathy, my anger, my attachments and addictions. To hear Rose's sermon click on

Pastor John Dodson gave the children's sermon. I just happened to record this video clip of a funny kid's moment.

I trust the joy of Easter will grace your moments to come.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


During a children's moments in worship a long time ago I talked with the kids about a God-moment. I was interested in how our children experience God-moments in their homes. Sometimes we feel that a God-moment has to be a religious, churchy moment. But God-moments happen to us every day. And they are not always joyful, happy moments. Sometimes a God-moment can happen after a car accident, or when we learn that a loved one has died, or when our families can't seem to stop arguing and fighting.

Do you have a tendency to experience God only when life is going well for you? For some folks the reverse is true. They find it hard to think about God personally acting in their lives until a crisis engulfs them.

During worship a young child was misbehaving. The parents did their best to maintain order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer the child called loudly to the congregation, "Pray for me! Pray for me!"

God-moments are right before our eyes even as you read this. Our job is to notice and be aware.

My prayers are with you all as you lead your church and community through the passion of Holy Week. May we all be ready to experience many God-moments.

Grace and peace,


Monday, March 15, 2010

On Not Liking That I Am a Christ Follower

Sometimes I am tempted to dislike that I am a Christ follower. Case in point. Kim and I celebrated our upcoming 30th anniversary by taking a Mexican cruise over spring break. Traveling on a luxury ship from LA to the Mexican Riviera our first port of call was Cabo San Lucas. No excursions for us other than to walk about the shops and restaurants near the harbor.

It was during a rest stop that I saw her. An elderly woman was rummaging through a garbage can picking empty plastic bottles and anything else that could have a second life other than the garbage dump. When she finished her treasure hunt she took her bag and sat near us.

I didn't think about it...just responded to what could have been my American guilt or the Holy Spirit. I dug out some cash, walked to the woman, gave it to her and said, "Vaya con Dios." I hope that meant "God be with you."

Her toothless smile was all the response I needed. I walked away with no warm glow in my heart. I was just glad to offer some help to this woman. I was just struck by the contrast of my wealth compared to her poverty. But the part of me who wanted to enjoy the luxury of the cruise did not care for this encounter with this poor woman.

Yes, there are days when I would rather not be a disciple of Jesus Christ. But when I affirmed my baptism and was confirmed, and every day since then when I daily decide to be a Christ follower, I gave up the right to choose whom I will love and whom I will not love. God, help me to know when my love for others requires actions that include generous sharing of my wealth.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Memorial Service Prayer

Today I attended the funeral for Alan Gage, the young husband and father of two, who died in the avalanche a few weeks ago. Alan was the husband of Dalon Gage, an active member and leader at St. John. Rev. Jo Ann Schaadt did a wonderful job of leading this service. Dr. John Dodson shared a prayer that I want to share with you. I thought others may want to copy and file it for future use.

Dear Lord,
We gather in this place of sacred worship to remember Alan Gage. We know him in many different ways as husband, father, son, relative, friend, leader in his work, lover of life, active sportsman, adventurer, a great encourager of people. Our lives will never be the same again and the pain of losing Alan is great. Alan found You best in his outdoor playground, observing the majesty and beauty of your creation around him. Alan found You when he gazed into his children’s eyes and felt the joy of their love. Alan found You when he was surrounded by his wife, friends and family.
Lord, we lost him too soon and we struggle trying to make sense of it all. Come, help us find understanding, bring to us comfort that goes beyond our pain. We need signs of your love and support. Help us to be those signs to each other in love and friendship. Allow us to continue to surround Dalon, Payton, and Jarrett with great love and support. Give us the wisdom to know how to connect with each other in ways that make a difference.
As first you gave Alan to us, now may You receive him with the joy of reunion. May he find in you the freedom to explore heavenly places. May we always remember Alan and his joy in Alaska and in his family and friends.
We give him to you while the joy he shared with us remains in our hearts. So help us now as we share the prayer your son gave us….Our Father

Grace and peace,

Worship in Willow, Alaska

I had a wonderful opportunity to worship with Willow UMC. This vibrant, little congregation is so important to the Willow community. They understand their mission to be the light and grace of Christ for the people who live in the area. Even if they don't attend the church people know that they can count on Pastor Steve and Fran Lynch and the Willow UMC for firewood, rides to the doctor, food, insulation, prayer, and even a memorial service or wedding.

Sometimes it's the pastor who needs help. The night before Steve and BJ's generator shed with two generators burned to the ground. They had to come to the church to shower for worship. It was a member of the church who came in the fire truck in response to the call. And it was a member of the church who provided a generator for the Eldreds. What goes around, comes around.

Here's a brief clip of Pastor Steve leading congregational singing.

Small churches can and do make a difference for Christ in our world. Willow UMC is an example of such a faithful congregation.

Grace and peace,

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spiritual retreat

I am at the Palisades retreat center in Seattle attending the five-day Academy for spiritual formation all this week.  It is an ecumenical, semi-monastic community of laity and clergy seeking God. I am hoping to keep my job title a secret. Just want to be Dave, beloved child this week. I would love to have you send me your churches prayer request so that I may lift them in prayer this week.   You can let me know your requests by replying to this blog.  All of our conference mission sites are in my prayers. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter Rendezvous Highlights

Last week our Alaska appointed and retired mission staff and spouses met for a two-day retreat in Anchorage. The highlight was spending time with Father Michael Oleksa of the Orthodox Church teach us about how to understand different cultures. It is often like two groups of people playing a ball game, only one is playing according to the rules of basketball and the other is using soccer rules. We need to understand one anothers' game and the rules. HEre's a brief clip:

Then it was time to conduct our business, this time at Anchor Park. We have a link for everyone to evaluate this experience and location in the E-Aurora. In addition to our regular committees there was the Vision Team, Annual Conference Planning, and GBGM consultation.

On Sunday we held a joint worship service at Central Lutheran Church in Anchorage commemorating our union. Bishop Hagiya preached a powerful message about a broken Christ for a broken world. Here's a clip of the first hymn, "Lift High the Cross."

I hope all of our Alaska United Methodist leaders will find ways to share what happened at Winter Rendezvous with their churches. Educating our people is an important piece of what we can do to strengthen our connection.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jewel Lake Parish

Last but not least is Jewel Lake Parish in Anchorage. This union church is served by Rev. Kay Shock who, after 9 years as pastor, announced her retirement this summer. This little church is full of joy and energy for God. I told them that they were the smilingist church I've seen! Check out this clip.

My good friend, Dr. Curt Karns, executive from the Presbytery of Yukon, was there to share in leading their annual meeting. They will follow the Presbyterian process and receive an interim pastor this summer while they work on their church profile to call a new Presbyterian pastor.

Here's another video clip from Jewel Lake.

I have begun a new task group on new church development. We are examining demographic data and potential leadership as we seek to discover where it is God may be moving us to begin new faith communities.

Now it's time to turn our attention to our Winter Rendezvous and Professional Church Worker's Retreat in a few weeks.

Grace and peace,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Northern Light/Douglas/First, Anchorage

Northern Light
Except for St. John I believe Northern Light had the most people at their annual meeting. Here we are singing an opening hymn.

Interim Pastor Kim Poole is guiding this church through their transition and new life is springing forth. Since this is a union church Dr. David Dobler from the Southeast Presbytery joined me in leadership.

What a delightful experience for me to be with Douglas Community UMC across the bay from Juneau. Pastor Imelda Ramos shared a slide show with pictures from the past year with an emphasis on the saints who went to glory. Did you know they prepare a breakfast for children FIVE days a week? Pastor Imelda is leaving this summer to move to California to attend seminary for her D.Min. I am working with SPRC on their pastoral transition.

First, Anchorage
Pastor Debra Lindsay-Hudgins had me preaching at their two morning services which was quite fun for me. The outreach ministries of this church are many and varied. IN spite of some struggles they were able to give 100% of their apportionments!
Here is a clip of Deb sharing a message with the children.

Last week I conducted my very first introduction with Peter Perry and St. John SPRC. As you might imagine it was a bit strange to do this for my former church, but very gratifying to see this new relationship develop.

This week is a 5-day trip to Phoenix for Western Jurisdictional meetings. Then my last charge conference with Jewel Lake Parish next Sunday.

Grace and peac,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ketchikan, Sitka, and Aldersgate

My time with the people of First UMC, Ketchikan was wonderful. This church is moving forward with mission, local outreach, Christian education, and hospitality. Pastors Teri and Ev Erbele are leading this church into a new chapter of vitality. We've all heard about Pigs on a Mission. Did you know that they have a birthday blessing where you give a dollar for every year of age on your birthday? These funds go towards their apportionment giving!

Flying in a rainstorm to Sitka was the bumpiest flight of my entire flying career! My time in Sitka was brief but rich. Pastor Luther Oconer has started a new Filipino ministry that is embraced by the church. One of their new members talked with me about ordained ministry. I did not get much time to play with little Ilena Oconer but she is a wonderful little girl.

I went from rain to snow as I made the 25 minute flight from Sitka to Juneau. Monday was spent with Aldersgate UMC in Juneau. Pastor Judy Shook continues to provide excellent leadership as they celebrated all the various and vital ministries over the past year. They showed a nice photo presentation of the year's events.

Tonight is Northern Light and tomorrow is Douglas. Nearly done with charge conferences. I am so impressed with what God is doing in and through all of our churches.

Til next time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Worship at East Anchorage UMC

After returning from a wonderful family vacation in wintry Ohio I needed to plow through my stack of emails and administrative tasks at the office. Since I had not yet worshipped with the East church AND since our wonderful DCM, Leila Disburg, was preaching I wanted to go to church at East last Sunday.

It was a great time of Epiphany worship. Here are two video clips. One is of Jon Disburg singing a song on his guitar.

East Anchorage UMC was the site of my first ever sermon preached in Alaska. It was 1983 and I was on vacation subbing for John Shaffer. Lonnie Brooks was there that day and even remembers the content of that sermon!

Next week I will be with our southeast churches for 5 days. With two more Anchorage churches I will be done with my first round of charge conferences. It continues to be a wonderful journey!

Grace and peace,