Monthly Archives: September 2010

Mark Your Calendar: Brad Sherrill Coming Back Oct. 27 to Nov. 1

In 2004 I attended a dramatic solo recitation of the Gospel of John, in its entirety, by Brad Sherrill at St. John United Methodist Church. What an experience that was! A spare stage with a few key props provided the background for bringing this Gospel alive. And it’s going to happen again!

Progressive churches are bringing Brad Sherrill, a professional actor, to Alaska for seven performances of PROPHETS, a work premiered in Atlanta in March of this year that combines the spoken word message of the Old Testament Prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos – enhanced by high multi-media.

Sherrill, a twenty-year veteran and artistic associate of the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, has gained wide recognition for his solo performance of the entire text of the gospel of John. Over the past ten years he has performed this work over 600 times to a combined audience of over 180,000. Venues have included theatres in Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, DC, Toronto and off-Broadway in NYC, the great cathedrals in the U.K., and hundreds of churches. [img_assist|nid=153305|title=The Prophets – Brad Sherrill|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=376]

When and Where
Evening performances (7PM) will be held at Central Lutheran Church (October 27 & 28), First Presbyterian Church, Wasilla (October 29), St. John Lutheran, Palmer (October 30), St. John United Methodist (October 31), and Soldotna United Methodist Church (November 1). A Sunday matinee (2PM) will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church on October 31.

Tickets are available from the churches – Adults $15.00, Youth/Seniors/Military $10.00.
Proceeds from the tour will benefit both local charities and church-related international relief causes.

Walt Hays Talks About the Performances
I asked Walt Hays, a retired United Methodist minister and development officer, who believes that progressive (mainline) churches can have a real impact when they work together, to comment on these performances. During his 46 years in Alaska, Walt has coordinated a number of ecumenical and community projects that have raised significant funds for charities and international relief.

Walt stated, “We had a great response to ‘the gospel of john’ tour with Brad Sherrill 2004. Audiences in the seven performances were amazed at Sherrill’s ability to bring all 20,000 words of the fourth gospel to life in a powerful way. After the first two of the seven performances, there was a great “buzz’ and we had to add an additional matinee to accommodate the demand. That tour had a combined attendance of 1385 and raised $5,450 for church-related international relief causes.

I trust we will have a similar response to PROPHETS. This new production brings the timeless message of Isaiah, Amos and Jeremiah to life. This great poetry and imagery is the very bedrock of our faith traditions with its message of compassion for the poor and the mandate that God’s people work for peace and justice. The performance is designed to let the words of the Old Testament Prophets speak for themselves – there is no interpretation or sermonizing. Too often, we hear scripture in snippets – a verse or two as we read a devotional guide or a dozen or so verses in the Sunday scripture reading. This 95 minute experience will be different. Those attending will hear the words of the great Prophets – enhanced by high quality multi-media images – with a message that is sorely needed in our turbulent times”

I’ll be there to see this performance and share my perceptions with readers in this blog. Don’t wait too long to get your tickets. You won’t want to miss this!

Reminder: SMU 2-day Study Opportunity Starts Tonight

Rarely do opportunities to study scripture and church issues with theology school faculty come to Anchorage. Tonight begins the 2-day lay workshop with Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology faculty at United Methodist Church at Chugiak. Start time is 6:30 p.m. A complete announcement with downloadable flier is located on my August 21 post below.

Don’t Faint – A Positive ChangePoint Report

What’s going on here? A greeter at the door, a lobby filled with tents and happy people, an energetic church service filled with music, testimonies, positive reports from ChangePoint leaders, and an unusually upbeat message from Teaching Pastor, Dan Jarrell? So many activities were planned that they had only two services. That’s not the ChangePoint I usually see.

Last Sunday, August 29, ChangePoint’s Homecoming Day, was filled with activities for members and the community. A ministry fair, the focus throughout the day, was a huge changer of my opinions of ChangePoint. While one might quarrel with whether churches need to be providing this depth of services in people’s lives, it’s certainly telling. So far, I’ve not seen any Anchorage church go to these lengths to inform their members and the public with regard to the scope of ministries they offer. There were more than a dozen small expo tents, each with four sides, with each side staffed with members supporting that ministry. Divorce, grief, diabetes, Boy Scouts, high school, missions, kinder care, Bible study and many more were represented. I was impressed![img_assist|nid=153029|title=Boy Scouts at ChangePoint Ministry Fair|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=263]

Music Really Worked!
The music was briefer and less boisterous than usual performed by a smiling and engaged ensemble of talented musicians. When “In Christ Alone”, a wonderful tribute to the Christian plan of salvation was sung, Pastor Jarrell, at the conclusion, started singing the refrain from the hymn “My Hope is Built”

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

What a moment![img_assist|nid=153030|title=Pastor Dan Jarrell Preaching|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=131]

State of the Church
Pastor Jarrell’s remarks were somewhat brief and to the point (click here to listen to or download recorded sermon), centering on their recent financial and administrative challenges. He typified 2009-2010 as a rebuilding year. 2010-2011 is a defining year, a year of “turning the corner”. Jarrell introduced ChangePoint’s new lead pastor, Jay Pullins, who is more of an administrative leader. Pullins, a local ex-military figure, offered his vision for the next year. Several other church leaders also gave interesting and useful reports.

Jarrell articulated ChangePoint’s mission and vision as follows:

Life in Christ for every Alaskan and the world beyond.

To train Christ-followers who are:
1. Enjoying God together
2. Being transformed together
3. Demonstrating the heart of Jesus Christ together

He finished by defining three key objectives for the year ahead.
1. Let my people go
2. Love your neighbor
3. Go to the nations

In conclusion, Jarrell noted there were challenges ahead with the sizeable balloon payment on their former ASI site, and in embracing the mission ahead. Their vision embraces using this facility in a way that it is leveraged for the benefit of the orphans, widows, and the poor.

I enjoyed this revisit to ChangePoint and certainly received a better glimpse of the reach of their ministry. Megachurches like ChangePoint do face criticism and challenges as they attempt to better impact their communities. ChangePoint appears to be dedicated to the task of growing Christians. Unfortunately many other megachurches around the U.S. are intent on fleecing the sheep under the guise of growing Christians. ChangePoint’s mission appears to preclude this. They appear to have changed direction. I’ll have to ask Pastor Jarrell to talk about this with me.

Thanks for the great visit ChangePoint! I look forward to monitoring your progress.