Monthly Archives: August 2017

Church Signs Tell Strong Stories…Or Do They? Part 1

I’ve written about church signage in Anchorage several times over the years. When I was being published in the Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage Daily News), I was unable to get my photos of church signs included with my columns. I’ve decided to regularly give examples of great signs and those needing improvement. Signs are needed to identify your church, service times, and hopefully your website where more information about the church can be found. They should be readable when passing at the posted speed limit for that roadway. It is not necessary to put the name of the pastor on church signs, a vanity sign of bygone days.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral – Wisconsin Sign

I enjoy visiting Catholic services and find them of value to people of that faith and others. Many Catholics and Catholic clergy are close personal friends of mine. While the sign in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an improvement from the previous sign, it still cannot be read by someone driving by at the posted speed limit. It’s unfortunate it’s not posted perpendicular to their beautiful cathedral. It also contains too much information to digest. This information should be available by referring to Our Lady of Guadalupe’s website, the address of which is missing from the sign.

Faith Christian Community – Wisconsin Sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two blocks south of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Faith Christian Community’s sign is simple, can easily be read on both sides while passing at the posted speed limit. It contains worship times and the church website address. I’m always amazed how efficiently and inexpensively this church has used the same sign for dozens of years to great effect.

Cornerstone Church – Seward Highway (Brayton Drive entrance)

For many years, Cornerstone Church has prominently displayed their sign along Brayton Drive and the Seward Highway. Easily viewed when passing at 65 mph, their signage is often changed as the seasons dictate, e.g. Easter, Christmas, etc. What a cost-effective and efficient way to communicate their presence, website, and service times to travelers on a busy thoroughfare.

Churches need not dedicate tremendous sums of money to have effective signage.

Chris Thompson
churchvisits@gmail.com

 

AFACT hosts event, interfaith prayer vigil against racism – tomorrow @ 1 p.m., Central Lutheran Church

Church Visits has received word from Anna Bryant, Executive Director of Anchorage Faith & Action Congregations Together (AFACT) they will be hosting an inter-faith prayer vigil this coming Sunday (8/20) from 1-2 pm at Central Lutheran Church, 15th and Cordova, to address the violent displays of racism during and after the events in Charlottesville.

Anna notes that in addition to the pastors from AFACT’s 16 member congregations, they will be joined by Marcus Sanders from Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Fairview and Rabbi Avram from Congregation Beth Sholom. AFACT is encouraging car pooling as much as possible to allow for good utilization of Central Lutheran’s parking lot.

If you are as discouraged about the recent stand against racism as I am, you’ll be interested in being a part of this event. I think this is a great idea, and urge your attendance in this timely event. I’ll be there and look forward to seeing you there too!

Several AFACT documents about this event are attached. Bring your friends and neighbors.

Chris Thompson
churchvisits@gmail.com

Stand Against Racism_flyer

Stand Against Racism_insert

 

It’s Greek Festival Time at Holy Transfiguration: Let’s help them pay off their mortgage!

Nave and Iconostasis – Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church

This weekend marks one of Anchorage’s great traditions: The Alaska Greek Festival. Held yearly at Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, (http://transfiguration.ak.goarch.org/) its members offer food, dancing, and glimpses into their vital spirituality they hold so dear. And…it’s this weekend! (

There’s more than meets the eye in this major event. Holy Transfiguration’s priest, Fr. Vasily Hillhouse shared some thoughts about about its significance. “This is our 23rd Festival! I would say that this is the single most important event of our year in terms of bringing the parish community together. It takes so much work to put on a festival this large, and we continue to learn how to love each other in a sacrificial way – serving and working even when we do not “feel like it”, for the betterment of our brothers and sisters.”
Some of you might have concerns about the O’Malley Road construction. “We have been assured that the road will be open completely and that our attendees will not face any increased delays due to the roadwork”, says Fr. Vasili.
I, along with many of you, have been wondering when Holy Transfiguration’s building project will be finished. “We are nearing the completion of the new church building,” notes Vasili, “though we have had some setbacks with the dome, and may need to continue to raise funds in order to get that taken care of. Our goal for this year is to raise enough money to completely pay off our mortgage on the building! We feel that we can do this, and are so grateful to the Anchorage Community for supporting us year after year. It is in this spirit of gratitude that we look forward to opening our home to our visitors and giving the some wonderful food and good wholesome fun!”
I’ve come to love and appreciate this fine multicultural group of people over the years I’ve been privileged to worship with them, and attend their festival. I plan to be there this weekend to enjoy tasty Greek food, watch the dancing, and hear Fr. Vasili talk about the church and Greek Orthodox faith, in the church, at various times over the weekend.
There is no charge for admission or parking. Festival hours are:

Friday, August 18th, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday, August 19th, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday, August 20th, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

This is a kid-friendly event, so if you have them, bring them. They’ll enjoy the kids doing the Greek dancing for sure.

Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church
2800 O’Malley Road in Anchorage

Lack of member involvement indicates dying churches

I recently attended a church service where a wide variety of church members took part in the Sunday service. To me this was an indication of a strong, healthy, and involved church, helping make the service more interesting and representative of that church.

Several years ago, in contrast, I attended a church service where the opposite was observed. I was ignored by the greeters, and the service was conducted solely by a pastor and and a single church musician, a bit much for a lengthy service.

Two years ago, the Pew Research Center released the results of their survey of church involvement. Titled “Church involvement varies widely among U.S. Christians”, Pew used “…three measures of congregational involvement: membership in a congregation, frequency of attendance at worship services and frequency of attendance at small group religious activities.” (see http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/16/church-involvement-varies-widely-among-u-s-christians/)

The results were astounding! Ranking each denomination by involvement, the study indicated that the overall averages were 30% for high involvement, 58% for medium involvement, and 12% for low involvement.

High % Medium  % Low %
Overall 30 58 12
Mormon 67 29 4
Jehovah’s Witness 64 35 2
Evangelical Protestant 43 49 8
Historically Black Protestant 41 53 6
Mainline Protestant 20 61 19
Orthodox Christian 20 68 11
Catholic 16 70 14

The study report states the high medium level of involvement for Mainline Protestant, Catholic, (and presumably Orthodox Christian) is due to, “…while many of their members attend religious services, they do not participate in a prayer or Scripture group on a weekly or monthly basis.”

I enjoy visiting churches which exhibit a high degree of involvement encompassing all members, regardless of age. They seem to exhibit a passion for connection, which to me, is the heart of the gospel. Dying churches seem to be floundering in a tidal wave of lack of member support. Take a look at the study to see how your denomination fares.