Monthly Archives: August 2010

Coming 9/17-18/10: Great Opportunity – Study With Southern Methodist Faculty

Several years ago I attended the Alaska Lay School of Theology for two days at St. John United Methodist Church. For a minimal price, I was treated to an incredible study of the parables of Jesus by Alyce McKenzie of Southern Methodist University. My knowledge of the meaning, use, and interpretation of parables was increased during those two days. I urge you to consider taking advantage of this year’s school. Lonnie Brooks, school coordinator, recently shared information about this year’s session.

In cooperation with Perkins School of Theology of Southern Methodist University, the Alaska United Methodist Conference is pleased to offer its Alaska Lay School of Theology for the fourteenth year in succession. This year’s event will be held at the United Methodist Church of Chugiak, which is located on the Old Glenn Highway about a half mile north of its intersection with Birchwood Loop South. The school will feature Professor Sze-Kar Wan teaching from his specialty as a scholar of the Apostle Paul, “Rereading Romans,” and Professor Elaine Heath, who grew up in Wasilla, Alaska, who will teach “A New Kind of Church.”

The school will take place Friday evening, September 17, 2010, and Saturday, September 18, from 8:00am to 4:30pm.

Register before the end of August and the fee for either course is $65.00. Registration at the door is $75.00.

For additional information and to obtain a registration form, please contact Lonnie Brooks, school coordinator, at 907-333-4529.

You may also download a flyer/registration form below.

African Children’s Choir Shines at City Church

Alaska has been truly blessed by the current visit of the African Children’s Choir. Composed primarily of 7-11 year olds who have lost one or both parents, they are an amazing tribute to Christian leadership and direction. Tonight I attended an outstanding near-capacity concert by this group at City Church. Their energetic movements and dancing when singing, accompanied by several children expertly playing rhythm on drums, gave exquisite expression to mostly upbeat Christian music, and a few traditional African village or folk songs.[img_assist|nid=152850|title=African Children’s Choir Smiling Through a Beautiful Performance|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=142]

As a regular visitor of area churches, I often comment how expressionless the musicians are. During this church performance, the children’s constant smiles were continually reflected back by the audience. Christian musicians can take a lesson from these precious kids. Smiling is truly infectious! They paid rapt attention to every direction given by their leader, Tony.

My favorite selection was “O Happy Day” the Edwin Hawkins song that made it into the Top 40 years ago. Kudos to their sponsors, chaperones, and open hearted Alaskans for bringing this group of over 20 kids to warm our hearts. It is a most fitting reminder that all are not as fortunate as ourselves in this world. After a brief intermission, the kids introduced themselves, one at at time, and their future ambitions. Would that more of our 7-11 year old children be more focused at this time in their lives. Through music, Christian education, and inspired leadership, these kids are well on their way to break the cycle of poverty in their native lands.

Try to catch one of their concerts. They’ll be in the Anchorage and Mat-Su area giving concerts through August 29. A full schedule can be found by clicking HERE.

To learn more about their organization, it’s history and purpose, as well as the various choirs over twenty five years, click HERE.

Pastoral Promises: Survey Results

Survey Results Surprising
Reader sentiment was pulsed regarding unfulfilled pastoral promises per my previous blog post. Although this was an unscientific survey, it is an indication of a problem people don’t tolerate in friendships, and find unsettling in trusted relationships represented by pastors and parishioners.

40% of survey respondents reported they were promised something by their pastors that did not come to fruition. The pastoral promises, were grouped as follows:
1. Request for personal meeting (counseling, study, etc)
2. Request for family service (baptism, funeral, wedding, etc)
3. Social (sharing a meal, event)
4. Other

Respondents indicated unfulfilled promises were most prevalent for #1, and #3. No respondents indicated #2 as an area of concern.

Respondents were asked to indicate the end results of the failure of the pastor to fulfill their commitment in the following groupings:
1. We stopped attending this church.
2. We started attending another church in this denomination.
3. We started attending church in another denomination.
4. Other

Saddest of all, most respondents indicated #1, and #4. One respondent indicated “We stopped expecting him to keep his word.” Another noted, with resignation, that the pastor “…is busy.”

I believe a “man’s word is his bond”. It’s important that promises be kept, and especially so when a pastor, a “man of God”, is making them. Promises should never be made unless they are genuine.

Pastoral Promises

I’ve enjoyed visiting many Anchorage and the Mat-Su congregations over the past couple of years. My visits haven’t always turned out the way I envisioned, but many of them exceeded my expectations, surprisingly so. For these, I’m truly thankful. In connection with these visits I sometimes receive personal or emailed invitations, from pastors, to get together over coffee or lunch. Sometimes pastors are seeking to better understand why I wrote what I did, or to offer various explanations for certain church practices. I look forward to these opportunities to gain a better understanding of the churches represented by these pastors. Accordingly, I’ve been extremely fortunate to meet with several pastors during this time, and have learned more about the dynamics of their church, faith, and our community. Unfortunately, a certain number of these promises have proven to be empty promises with no further communication.

This started me thinking, “Does this also happen with you, the reader of this blog, and your pastor?” To answer this question, I’ve posted a link to a brief, three question electronic survey below to unscientifically explore if this is a persistent theme or just a fluke.

Please click on the link below (blue bolded “Pastoral Promises Survey”) to take the survey. I’ll share the results of this survey with the readers of this blog later in August. I’ll leave the survey open for approximately 1 ½ weeks. (This is a totally anonymous survey. You will not be tracked in any way for any reason.)


Thank you in advance for your participation!