Tag Archives: Great Land Christian

Good Friday 2020 already? It really seems strange, But Easter is almost here.

It’s been sometime since I last posted, but I’m going to be posting articles regularly now. The last month has been a blur. Trip to England and Africa was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic. Clearly Holy Week is going to be radically different this year.

With “hunker-down” and “social distancing” in place, most Christians will have a radically different experience with Easter this year. Please feel free to share your experience in your comments to this post.

I’ve been experiencing a house church for some time. It is one of several affiliated with Great Land Christian Church. Their model is to worship in house churches every Sunday except one. The exception is when the entire church meets as a congregation at the Boys & Girls Club facility. The congregate meetings, of course, have been discontinued during the pandemic. However, I’ve attended congregate GLCC meetings and find them to be a joy. My longtime friend Pastor Ray Nadon has filled me in on why they switched to this model. I’ll be doing an indepth post on them shortly. I’ve enjoyed worshipping with the Paredes house church for a number of Sundays. They are now meeting via Zoom. The majority of their time is spent discussing the assigned scripture readings. After my return from Africa, they focused on Matthew 23-24, and the following week Matthew 25-26. It is a very personable way to study, pray, and assemble as Christians together. If you would like to join their Easter service, click on this link to obtain a Zoom meeting invitation. (https://www.glccalaska.org/)

Many churches have transitioned to having their services via some type of social media or internet meeting sites such as Zoom or Skype. I’ve talked with several local pastors this week and they shared the following information about their services this weekend. This list is not exhaustive but representative. I suggest looking at church websites for specifics for onlne worship.

Anchorage First Presbyterian Church – Pastor Matt Schulz (http://firstpresanchorage.org/)
Pastor Matt shared “I have been live streaming on my facebook page and the church facebook page since this began. I will do so this week as well for Good Friday. Sunday will be Easter of course, but livestream only, probably from my home.” Livestream link: https://www.facebook.com/First-Presbyterian-Church-of-Anchorage-Alaska-152768168262144/

All Saints Episcopal CHurch – Rev. David Terwilliger
(allsaintsalaska.org)
Rev David shares, “As far as our Holy Week/Easter schedule, we have reduced many of our usual worship activities but certainly not all.  As things stand, I have been posting videos of our services on our church website – linked from a church YouTube account. (http://allsaintsalaska.org/youtube-services)

“Fortunately, I have my household to assist me with the services – usually my wife as Lector and my daughters will Acolyte for us Easter morning.  It certainly seems strange to us to conduct a service to be viewed by our church family online – many I know are able to watch and listen.  Sadly, some, I am sure, cannot.  Nevertheless, I have had folks tell me that they find great comfort in knowing that the Eucharist is still being celebrated within our church sanctuary even if they cannot be here physically to participate.  We are relying on a teaching of the church that “spiritual communion” is available to those whose desired intention is to participate in the Eucharist but for reasons – not their fault – cannot be physically present.  In this, the sacramental benefits of Christ’s sacrifice are apprehended by faith.  This teaching has been around for a long time and is even provided for in the 1662 BCP rubrics as well.  So we are relying of Christ’s presence and our Church’s tradition to guide us during these days.  Additionally, the old Armed Forces Prayer Book offers guidance for Spiritual Communion and a wonderful prayer found here: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1928/AFPB_Spir_Communion.htm

St Mary’s Episcopal Church – Rev. Michael Burke
(http://godsview.org)
Rev. Michael says they will be using Zoom for the Easter service at 10:00 a.m. with Twitch and Facebook mirroring the service. The Zoom link is (https://zoom.us/j/362945215) or go to the church webpage noted above for a link. The bulletin is also availabe there. Pastor Michael also shares, “People are joining us online from around the world and throughout the lower 48.Much joy despite the crushing busyness.”

St. Patrick’s Parish – Fr. Leo Walsh
(https://www.facebook.com/stpatsak/)
“We are pretty much shut down” say St. Patricks Pastor Fr. Leo Walsh.”I have been live streaming mass is at noon daily, and on the weekends on our Facebook page. Due to the governors mandate, it is impossible to celebrate the Triduum liturgies if there is only one person who lives in the household, such as myself. The Triduum liturgies for the Archdiocese will be celebrated and streamed from Holy Family Cathedral (English) and Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral (bi-lingual in English and Spanish).Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 7 PM on Holy Thursday; Good Friday Liturgy at 7 PM, Easter Vigil on Saturday at 8 PM.  Details are on the archdiocesan website.” (https://www.archdioceseofanchorage.org/)
Fr Leo says he “will be streaming Easter Sunday Mass from Saint Patrick’s at 10 AM Easter Sunday morning.” See Facebook link above.

St. John UMC – Pastor Andy Bartel
(https://www.stjohneagle.com/)
They will be streaming Good Friday services at 7 p.m. today. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC157rFbLUFLjOH9XvQTjCIQ)

Easter Sunday services will also be livestreamed at 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. as well.
(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC157rFbLUFLjOH9XvQTjCIQ)

This is a friendly church with a top-notch pastoral staff.

Wherever you worship this Easter weekend, may God’s richest blessing be with you as you celebrate His richest gift to a needy world.

Millennials haven’t completely deserted Anchorage churches

For several years, I’ve written about issues churches face in the failure of attracting millennials — at least as we currently understand that word.

Pew Research defines millennials as the demographic group that fell between the ages of 18 and 34 in 2015 and projects that they number about 75.3 million, slightly surpassing the projected 74.9 million baby boomers (ages 51 to 69).

As I visit churches, in many I’m seeing fewer attendees I would identify as being in the 18-29 year range. In any organization, this group would ordinarily be the lifeblood that carries an organization into the future. (This is true not only for churches but also for civic and fraternal organizations such as Rotary Clubs and Masonic Lodges.) But not all churches are losing millennials.

In mid-November I attended Sunday services at TrueNorth Anchorage. This fairly recent church plant was meeting Sundays at the Loussac Library’s Wilda Marston Theatre but outgrew that space. Now they are meeting at Clark Middle School. I was warmly greeted by millennials as I entered Clark. The church met in the multipurpose room decorated with TrueNorth banners, and full of tables, information and helpful people. There were areas for children’s instruction as well. Many millennials attended the service, which started with a brief 15-minute musical service led by a seven-piece worship band.

The pastor introduced himself as Jason and warmly welcomed guests, explaining that the regular pastor, Brent, was at an Outside conference for pastors. Few pastors take the time to warmly welcome members and guests, much less to identify themselves by name. Jason, a millennial himself, identified as the key text for his sermon Nehemiah 3, which described rebuilding a gate and wall in Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. It shows how almost everyone pitched in to accomplish this common goal. Jason tied this to TrueNorth’s mission of “reaching people in this state who do not know Jesus’ name,” a brilliant take on the meaning of Gospel. Following communion, the pastor challenged worshippers to consider inviting just one person to church during the week, and talked briefly about TrueNorth’s life groups. I can see why millennials might be drawn to such a service: It was brief and friendly and featured good music and excellent preaching. I’ve seen similarly effective services at Great Land Christian Church (Central Middle School), Clear Water (Wendler Middle School) and C3 (Begich Middle School). Attending services of all of them, I’ve found millennials well-represented at each.

David Kinnaman of the Barna Group, released a research-based book, “You Lost Me,” several years ago detailing how this young generation is giving up on church. There are many issues involved, but a few key ones were: failure of older members to connect, sexuality, perceptions of hypocrisy, not addressing science and faith and church exclusivity. In a recent interview titled “Q&A: Why Millennials are less religious than older Americans,” published by the Pew Research Center, New York University sociologist Michael Hout contends that millennials, the children of baby boomers, were raised to think for themselves, to “find their own moral compass,” rejecting “the idea that a good kid is an obedient kid,” approaching religion with a “do-it-yourself attitude.” He also notes millennials reject more than religion, citing “lack of trust in the labor market, with government, in marriage and in other aspects of life.”

Ray Nadon, pastor of Great Land Christian notes they’ve achieved positive results with “personal contact, meaning young people caring about other young people. Building relationships with them, learning to talk with them and not be ‘religious,’ but real and honest.” Sounds a bit like Kinnaman’s observations to me. Nadon further notes that training and teaching is important, aided by personal dives into Scripture, community service and active involvement by everyone. He did express a concern that too many churches try “to play in the millennials’ weaknesses by making ‘church’ about entertainment.” I agree with Nadon that’s a mistake, and isn’t really what millennials are looking for.

Brian Cook, lead pastor at ACF Church in Eagle River, another millennial-heavy church, thinks “that many current cultural issues are polarizing the church, which is reducing the number of nominal Christians, especially in the millennial generation. This is causing many to weigh the cost of aligning with the label of ‘Christianity.’” He notes that ACF is “a community of grace, where doubts and questions are welcomed. People don’t have to ‘believe’ to ‘belong.’” Cook believes “millennials are simply looking for honest and loving community with a real vision to make life better in our cities.”

Many churches continue to conduct church in traditional ways that frankly do not address millennial needs. Millennials are searching for authenticity in an unauthentic world. Churches could provide more of this if they really tried. Mentoring could help in many, but the big question is, will it happen?

However, I’m encouraged that millennials in Anchorage are finding places of worship that address their various backgrounds and needs, places that extend themselves in ways that are not claustrophobic.

Chris Thompson is a religion scholar who visits local churches and writes about his experiences and matters of faith on his blog,churchvisits.com.

The views expressed here are the writer’s own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words toletters@alaskadispatch.com or click here to submit via any web browser.

Two more churches using schools as places to meet, worship – 3-07-15

In my Feb. 21 column, I wrote about two churches using Anchorage School District middle schools as places to worship. This week’s column is devoted to two more churches doing the same. I’ve attended services at both and find their worship is not impeded by meeting in a school.

Great Land Christian Church lives up to its name

It’s been my pleasure to visit Great Land Christian Church a number of times since I’ve been in Alaska. Initially I was invited to visit this church when they were meeting in a UAA Recital Hall. The invitation came from a college student I met on an Alaska Airlines flight years ago. She wanted to share her faith and where she worshipped. I responded to her invitation and had an interesting time at their service. GLCC started in 1992 and the Rev. Ray Nadon and his wife became actively involved in 2007.

While they worshiped at the Anchorage Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church I really became aware of them. Due to their growth, they needed a much larger meeting space, and settled on Central Middle School as that place. Central is a great place to meet. It has a large multipurpose room ideal for meetings. Last time I visited the church there I saw hundreds of energetic, engaged worshipers. People were open and friendly to me. The music was refreshingly a cappella, the preaching was energized and the audience was engaged in the sermon. To this day, it remains a high point among my church visits locally.

I asked GLCC pastor Nadon why they chose Central. He said there were five reasons: a home they could grow in, a home where they could have potlucks, a home with breakout rooms for the children, Central was “central,” and a home that “wouldn’t break the bank.” Nadon, elaborating on the money issue said, “We had considered buying, but the cost is so great and to be tied to such a big mortgage is not the best situation. We believe it can hinder your ability to preach the Gospel, as you may just be too concerned about money. As well, if you buy, then you are limited to that size or multiple services, which we are not ready to look at yet. We love the closeness of our family. One last thing on the buying: It does seem strange to own a building that remains empty a good part of the time, hence our schedule lines up quite well with a school’s.”

I’d noticed there seemed to be a high proportion of millennials at GLCC. Nadon said reaching that age group wasn’t a focus initially, but started happening over the past five years. He interpreted this as being “focused on serving the community and teaching a discipleship that was active. Over the years, we have seen that the millennials are kind of interested in God, but not the God they see in church. At least part of this seems to be that they do not see any meaning behind it or action attached to it — just Sundays and perhaps a worship thing here or there. Many do not want to ‘play’ church and most are looking for more than just a good ‘worship band’ or dynamic preacher. They want substance and we put quite high expectations on them when it comes to reading the Scriptures and digesting it for themselves. We try to connect them with the Gospel in a practical way. We also connect them with mentors to help them in life’s many decisions and choices.”

GLCC delivers much of what I seek as I visit churches: greetings, hospitality, well-delivered biblical sermons and music not intended to entertain. I consider it a great church and an asset to Alaska.

Calvary Chapel South Anchorage makes the switch

A relatively new church, Calvary Chapel, initially began meeting as a mobile church, migrating to a fixed site over the last four years. Two weeks ago, they began meeting at Hanshew Middle School. I attended their second service there last Sunday and found it sincere, with a warm greeting, singing, prayer and a good sermon.

Jeff Steiner, their pastor, feels strongly their move was blessed by God. “To see the body working together, serving together and fellowshipping in a capacity that would not have occurred in our other facility was a great confirmation of the Lord’s blessing on our move,” he said “This has a very fresh appeal in reminding us that the body of Christ is not a building, but people. Love is the greatest tangible expression of being a disciple, not the facility occupied.”

When I asked pastor Steiner if he was targeting any demographic he said, “Anybody and everybody. We are not really the cool or hip fellowship, nor are we liturgical. Our motto is simply ‘teaching the word of God simply, verse by verse and chapter by chapter.’ We have simple, singable contemporary worship and open Bibles. Our target audience is Christians who want to grow in their relationship with Jesus and be equipped. We teach ‘the Bible,’ and seek to do it in its entirety.” Steiner did note young families, mostly millennials, figure prominently in attendance.

What a concept! Meeting in a convenient location, plenty of parking, and the familiar setting of a public school. I’m not surprised more young families don’t jump at this type of chance.

Clearly one detriment for all churches meeting in public schools, as opposed to a fixed location, is having to move in and out every Sunday. This requires the offsite storage of audio/visual equipment, tables, chairs, and whatever else is necessary to conduct church, in a trailer or truck. It all must be set up prior to the service and taken down afterward.

Personally I’m fascinated with church plants, meaning a church being raised up in a new area. There’s always room for one more. I don’t see it as a matter of “sheep stealing” but making opportunities for worship in our community more accessible. Both are worthy of visits from those seeking a new church experience.

Chris Thompson is a religion scholar who visits local churches and writes about his experiences and matters of faith on his blog, Church Visits.

The views expressed here are the writer’s own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.

Great hymn singing is not dead in Anchorage

Many readers have written asking for names of churches offering music formats not harsh, overly loud, consistent with Scripture and based on spiritually uplifting hymn format singing.

Many evangelical churches used to offer hymn singing formats where a 10- to 15-minute period of congregational singing, called “song service,” commenced the worship service. This style is dying out for lack of gifted song leaders and musicians who can perform this music in a spirited, uplifting and inspired fashion. When done well, a song service can be the most member-active portion of a church service.

Liturgical churches Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist and similar congregations may offer some of this style of music interspersed throughout their services, but it is often performed in a doleful, draggy funereal manner. I recently received an email from a new Anchorage resident, transplanted from another Alaska city, looking for a good song service music format.

Who has the Best Song Service? 

“I have so enjoyed your running commentary on local churches. I’m new to Anchorage, and looking for the church with the best song service. Any “flavor” will do. I’m looking for a mighty Spirit here. Being a missionary kid, I’ve learned to keep my spirituality my own business. I can attend almost anywhere, realizing the kingdom of heaven is within. I do love traditional hymn singing, such as “Like a River Glorious,” “He Hideth My Soul,” “A Mighty Fortress,” etc. I grew up in an Alaskan church in another city. The only thing I miss is their hymns and Scripture songs. My former church plays their hymns at double speed now due to a new pianist since I grew up there. It would be nice if a search of “best church singing” would yield a result. God bless you for your continued service to Anchorage!”

Not many Anchorage churches offer what you are looking for. Many churches have dumped people-friendly song services for entertainment-format praise bands and choirs. I personally know several Anchorage churches that offer what this reader is looking for, and do it well.

A great song-service and a well-delivered sermon are what many people seek in a church service. Instead of offering a search of “best church singing” send an email request to ChurchVisits@gmail. com to obtain a list of churches offering great song services. One of those churches is Great Land Christian Church, which offers one of the best song services in town. It is led by a group of young singers who present an a capella group of hymns and songs that are theologically strong, not Bible camp-style music and so well done that virtually every person in the congregation can be heard following their lead and singing.

The two “Beer and Hymn” sings offered by Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in 2013 offered some of the best hymn singing I’ve heard in many years. More than a hundred people sang great hymns of the church for several hours with unrestrained joy in a restaurant setting while raising close to $10,000 to support the Lutheran Social Services food bank.

 Only a piano delivered the musical accompaniment, while the singing was led by a talented pastor who knew how to sing and lead the music. Occasions like these are infrequent but indicate many seek participative music, not theologically weak “music as entertainment” delivered at eardrum blasting levels. Seek and you will find!

Chris Thompson is a religion scholar who visits local churches and writes about his experiences and matters of faith on his blog, Church Visits, at adn.com/churchvisits. Email him at churchvisits@gmail.com.

Original ADN Article
http://www.adn.com/article/20140131/church-visits-great-hymn-singing-not-dead-anchorage

Great Land Christian – Awesome Revisit!

My History With GLCC
More than ten years ago, long before I began blogging Church Visits for ADN, I was witnessed to by a college age member of Great Land Christian Church while on a Seattle-Anchorage flight. She was most enthusiastic about so many aspects of GLCC, that I decided to take up her offer to attend a Sunday service.

I attended but was put off by the former pastor bragging about being out duck hunting that morning before coming to church. While I enjoyed many aspects of that early experience with GLCC, listening to killing ducks before church was not one of them. Years later I finally revisited GLCC (click HERE and HERE for blog posts of my previous visits). What I discovered was the same younger crowd, a capellasinging, bible-based teaching, and friendly people. After outgrowing their Korean SDA Church meeting place of many years, GLCC has begun meeting at ASD’s Central Middle School.

I attended GLCC’s services last Sunday, October 27, as one of my local church revisit updates. To me, things have gotten even better at GLCC. They’re friendlier, the music is still great, the preaching is inspired, and there are many more members.

Now these people don’t know me, but I was approached by many members who greeted me, extending true Christian hospitality, without smothering me. This experience was truly rare among all the Anchorage church visits I make. In many churches I’m left with the feeling I’m a leper not to be touched, and certainly avoided. I effortlessly slip in and out without a nod or touch in many churches. If you’re a regular reader you already know this.

Music the Way it Should be
The music was truly a delight; Just congregational singing led by a group of five singers on the platform. No 105+ decibel instrumental music to blast the eardrums as is so common in most Anchorage contemporary worship churches. At GLCC, it seemed as though everyone was singing, and…you could hear the words. The loud music at so many churches drowns out most individual’s singing. Those who choose to sing the complicated rhythms and harmonies seem to be in “entertainment mode”, carried along by the 30-45 minute standing concert. For the first time in years, it was enjoyable to sing in church, singing lyrics that made spiritual and theological sense without vain repetition of meaningless verses.

The songs sung were:

Run to the Fight
Jesus Will Fix It
Holy, Holy, Holy
Encourage My Soul
I Tried and I Tried
What a Fellowship
Whose Side Are You Fighting On?

Bulletins Anyone?
GLCC’s bulletin (sheetlet) covered the basics of the service, including an Order of Service, announcements, and prayer requests. Many contemporary churches have pages and pages of fodder, but absolutely no information about what is going to occur at the service despite survey results showing members want more. Even though it was brief, I like what I got and what they are doing. It contained many of the basics those surveys indicate members want (click HERE for my recent post on bulletins). (This hyperlink not currently working.)

Inspiring, Well-Delivered Sermon
Pastor Ray Nadon had a wonderful, encouraging sermon based on Luke 14. His observations about the tower in v.28 were excellent coupled with Christian admonition about counting the cost. He’s a very good speaker with excellent stage presence, preaches extemporaneously, and makes the application clear. Too many of today’s Christian preachers tiptoe around the information their position dictates they should bedelivering to worshipers. Current research on church guests indicates they come to visit your church for mainly one thing; They want to know what you believe, i.e., your doctrine. No pussyfooting around at GLCC. It’s too bad they don’t record their sermons, and make them available to the public for replay. During Ray’s sermon, people were busy taking notes and consulting their bibles, a sure fire indication of how much GLCC members immerse themselves in the word, a marked contrast to most other Anchorage churches. I’ve commented before on the sound of bible pages being flipped while Ray preaches. Last of all, I love to hear members shouting out words of encouragement to Ray or other participants during the service such as “Come on!”, “Say it!”, etc. It shows me these worshipers are hungry for participation and really enjoy their church-going experience.

Suggestions
If I had any suggestions for GLCC, they would embrace putting true greeters at the front door instead of bulletin passers. There were no directional signs posted showing the way to the service, so I had to find my way. The entry is also an excellent place for a staffed guest table, but none was seen. The offering call did not offer guests a pass on the collection plate, a very guest-friendly gesture. With so much criticism about money in churches, this is an easy fix.

Communion was served very early in the service without comment. The early church considered communion to be a special ordinance reserved for those who clearly knew about the significance of the rite. Basically, nothing was said about communion, but that’s the way it’s always been when I’ve visited GLCC. It’s in their DNA. There was a joyful baptism that day, a introduced by younger members who said nice things about the young man being baptized. Nothing was really said, however, about the rite of baptism, how it happens, and its significance in the Christian life. There were several references to concerns the young man might back out before the baptism which raised a red flag in my mind. Full immersion open water baptism has full credence according to scripture. I really didn’t understand what happened Sunday at that baptism.

The website, being redone, is painfully short on the critical information GLCC needs to augment its community mission. It needs to be fixed immediately. The main things the public wants from a church website is (1) where do you meet, and (2) when? Neither of these were apparent on the initial splash screen.

Lots of Good Things at GLCC
On the whole, I can happily say this church is full of amazing people, doing amazing things, and practicing their faith in awesome ways. It tends to be a younger church, but there were grey hairs in evidence too. I give this church a hearty two thumbs up and highly recommend it to potential guests. As we’re now in the church season of compelling members to pony up hefty dollars or pledges for the year to come, it must be reassuring for GLCC members to know a small weekly rental fee for the use of Central Middle School is going for a great cause, instead of payments for hefty mortgages, bricks and mortar, and upkeep for a really nice, underutilized facility.

If you want to know what happened to the 18-29 year-old “lost generation” we keep hearing about, go to GLCC. They’re worshiping there. Keep up the good Christian work you do GLCC!

Great Land Christian Church – What a Great Experience!

[img_assist|nid=134747|title=Great Land Christian Church Meets Here|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=151]
Summary
A quiet street in Midtown hides a strong and vibrant church full of Christian vitality and enthusiasm. Great Land Christian Church fosters a younger congregation which worships in a conservative setting, but their strong faith and quest for community bursts up like water from a mountain spring. Their singing is a joy to experience. Led by an enthusiastic, clean looking and in-tune praise group, every attendee joins in the meaningful mix of hymns, recent gospel songs, and some folk music, all without instruments. Totally a cappella! Not singing or holding a songbook due to a sinus infection, I was offered one four or five times during the singing, a distinct departure from any Anchorage church I’ve visited. The preaching, led by Pastor Ray Nadon, straight from the Word of God, was on a topic not usually heard in church: Revelation 2-4. Unlike many pastors, I felt Pastor Ray’s clear and dynamic extemporaneous preaching style connected clearly with this group. The church was full, but it felt like a one-to-one conversation. After communion the lead singers quickly came up and closed the service in song. Several members introduced themselves after the service. More happiness on the faces of the singers and greeters who are visitor-aware would have capped the day delightfully!

Not My First Visit
I was invited to visit Great Land Christian Church by a young UAA coed on a flight from Seattle to Anchorage, some years ago. They were still meeting at the UAA Fine Arts building. I was put off on my initial visit by what I recall as the preacher bragging about being out duck hunting earlier that morning. The members were enthusiastic and engaging, but I didn’t return for another dose.

In my quest for churches to visit in Anchorage, I recalled Great Land and on November 9, decided to give it another try. They worship in the Korean SDA Church on quiet 34th St between C and Arctic. There was no other sign out front but the address was right and there were lots of cars in the parking lot.

Greeting Weak
A greeter just inside the front door said good morning. I was a bit confused where the service would be but sort of followed a few people headed toward some singing. A person at the sanctuary door gave me a bulletin, really a single sheet, more of a newsletter and calendar.

Awesome Singing Inside
Five appropriately attired singers were arrayed across the platform leading the singing in harmony, and a cappella! What a wonderful sound! Virtually everyone in the audience was singing along, except me due to my voice being out of commission from sinus. What an experience to actually hear the words and not be drowned out by a loud rock band. And wonderful too, to see clean cut and nicely dressed folks instead of the down-dressed and sometimes disheveled look of many Christian musicians. The singers would change places on stage with others from the audience as the songs changed. And the rafters literally rang with their praise music. A wonderful blend of Christian music from across the spectrum was sung, most of it familiar to me. I was puzzled the singers were not reflecting the beautiful lyrics with smiling faces, but for the most part, they had pleasant but unsmiling faces. Four or more people offered me a songbook to sing from, which despite my vocal challenges, was an absolute first in all of my Anchorage church visits. Sadly, I’ve not witnessed this behavior in any other Anchorage church visits.

A Younger Attendee
For the most part, a younger crowd attends this church. I would call it college to middle aged in composition. However, the service and message is certainly appropriate for any age. But from the outside, it appears to be a high energy group that is submitting themselves to the transforming love of God.

The Meet n’ Greet segment was somewhat the same as other churches. I did get to meet Pastor Ray during this time. It’s no secret I don’t like this segment because it’s so staged.

[img_assist|nid=134748|title=Pastor Ray Nadon Preaching from the Word|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=229]
Inspired Preaching
The sermon was delivered by Pastor Ray Nadon, a high energy preacher. He has a gift to take scripture and make it plain, diligently making connections for its application. Revelation 2-4, his focus for the day, is not for the faint of heart. Pastor Ray pointed out we need to read Revelation with the right glasses. No long-winded emotional heart-tugging stories here. And it wasn’t a 3-point sermon using fill in the blanks slides. Nope. No slides here. Just good bible-based teaching with lots of great audience participation and rustling bible pages, again, uncommon in many of the churches I’ve visited. And to this bible student, it seemed Pastor Ray had the right glasses on.

Conclusion
The service ended with communion but without a word on how communion was taken in this church. I discovered the bread was consumed immediately upon receiving it, and the wine also, replacing the wine glass in the serving tray immediately. Some Protestant churches have different ways on serving and partaking of communion. Nonetheless it was a beautiful ending to a great sermon. Finally, the singers came up and an energetic song ended the service. If the greeters were as practiced as the singers, and the singers loosened up and smiled more, this church could be a powerful force to deal with in the community. Afterwards I had friendly conversations with several of the church members and it was refreshing to have this experience. They offer many additional options for bible study, women’s classes, finance, singles, and relationships. Ray’s wife Stephany Nadon also pastors leading out in women’s ministry. My best to this unusual church as they continue to grow.