Welcome to the Alaska District Church of the Nazarene
Currently our district is comprised of 27 churches with-in the 586,412 Square Miles of the most beautiful land scape you will ever see – called the state of Alaska!!! It’s our mission to share the Good News of Christ’s love with the people of this land. Hopefully this site is helpful and provides the information you are looking for concerning the Alaska District.
Every Pastor – a Missional Leader
Alaska District Church of the Nazarene
Every Church – a Missional Church
Every Christian – a Missionary
DS Report to Alaska District Assembly
2015 – Jewel lake Church of the Nazarene
Dr. Graves, Dr. Alexander, Assembly Delegates and friends, welcome to our 65th Alaska District Assembly. We have enjoyed a couple of wonderful days together in our SDMI and NMI Conventions and I am looking forward to our time together today as well.
Our theme this year is “Defining Moments”, we all have them sometimes they come at the least expected time – and they have the potential to be life changing. We recognize some of these moments; getting married, having a child, college, a salvation experience, or the moment you choose to surrender your life completely to Christ, and experience the fullness of the His Holy Spirit cleansing and empowering you – radically changing your life perspective. These moments and others in our lives really are defining moments, as they tend to define, who we are and the people we become.
I recently read a true story by Karen Rudd of a powerfully defining moment in her life that I would like to share with you, it’s entitled:
“The Courage to Tell the Truth”
When I was seventeen in the late 1960s, my mother was stricken with colon cancer. She was given six months to live, so she asked my father for one thing, that we would all start going to church until the end.
Shortly after her diagnosis, she asked our new pastor if she could be anointed with healing oil and prayer. She did not ask to be completely healed, only that she be given life long enough to see that all her children were safely on their own road to life.
She became ill for the last time when my baby sister (who was eleven at the time mother was afflicted with cancer) graduated from high school. Seven *years* after her diagnosis.
While she was hospitalized, I watched her mental condition deteriorate to the point that she began to get confused. Her kidneys were shutting down, so her blood chemistry was completely out of whack. Tumors had been found in her brain.
Several days after she was admitted, I arrived for my daily visit only to have her question me angrily about not telling her the “real” reason she was in the hospital. She went on to explain that she was really in the hospital for her nerves, not because of her terminal condition.
I didn’t know what to do. I was twenty-four at the time, and had never dealt with someone dying of disease. I was paralyzed by indecision and fear.
In the midst of all this turmoil, my brother arrived for a visit. I watched my mother start to tell him the same thing she had told me. My heart was pounding as I wondered how he would deal with her confusion.
Calmly, he pulled a chair near her bed and took her hand. As he held it gently in his, he spoke softly, “Mother, you know you will not be leaving this hospital alive.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, nearly blinding me, as my mother covered his hands with her own, and in a moment of lucidity, she whispered, “I know.” I stayed long enough to watch the two of them face her frightening future together.
They spoke of death as inevitability, instead of some far off enemy. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was giving Mother Permission to stop the war against her disease.
She went into a coma that night, and two days later she died.
I’ve never forgotten the courage I saw my brother summon that night. He had taken a difficult walk with my mother from her state of denial, to the peace of acceptance.
That moment has been a life lesson for me. It has helped me to face my own mortality and the mortality of people I’ve known who’ve died since then. Perhaps my brother thinks what he did that day was nothing special. It was. Sometimes truth isn’t pretty or pleasant, but it can set us free.
Karen’s brother that day walked heroically with his mom through the valley of death and the truth set her free!!
This morning I would like to Honor some Heroes who set among us, they have set at the same hospital beds, as well as a multitude of other Heroic situations, telling the “Truth”, and helping those they serve be “Set Free”, to follow after and serve the Living God.
I am referring specifically to our district shepherds, our Pastors who so freely give of themselves day after day, month after month, year after year! God has called these men & women to share the truth, to compassionately love their congregations and communities, to make disciples and be Kingdom builders. It’s a mammoth task which requires courage, dedication and perseverance. We have a great group of Pastors here in Alaska, leaders who strongly serve our Lord and the communities to which they have been called.
Pastor’s please stand; we want to honor each of you, associate pastors as well. Please join me in “Honoring these Men and Women”. (Prayer for our Pastors.)
Not only do I want to honor all of our Pastors today but I want to especially recognize a few.
Alaska is an awesome place to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, our land is beautiful like no other; the spender of our mountains and the beauty of our Oceans, personally I love living and serving here in the “Great Land”, but with that said it can also be a difficult place to serve that not everyone is cut out for. I have been trying to bring some small change to our district culture these last few years by asking our incoming pastors to Alaska for an unofficial 5 year commitment to the church that calls them to serve, realizing that long term relationships have more potential for greater individual and community impact.
We are fortunate on the Alaska district to have a number of Pastors who have served their congregations and communities for over 10 years!!! Actually one over 15 years!
I could say a lot about the ministry that happens when a pastor builds and continues to build those long term enduring relationships, a community is blessed and so is a pastors family.
Pastor and Spouse as I call your name would you please stand and come forward, we have something we would like to give to you by way of honoring your service this morning.
10 Years Plus Group:
- Pastors Richard & Cindy Jones – North Pole 10 years
- Pastor Bob & Renee Sugden – Two Rivers 11 years
- Pastor Bruce & Carol Hardesty – Soldotna 13 years
- Pastor Phil & Margret Merioles – Valdez 13 years
- Pastor Marshall & Sandy Mayfield – Fairbanks First 14 years
15 Years Plus Group:
- Pastor Chuck & Carmen Haskins – Sitka 16 years
Pastors thank you for continuing on, when it has been difficult you pushed ahead and stayed the course. I can’t imagine (well maybe I can) how many times you have considered the alternatives, but in those “Defining Moments” you continued to follow the Lord’s call and commission – for which I am personally grateful as I believe your congregations and communities are as well. Thank you, you may be seated.
Just a couple of weeks ago we all gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This morning would you go back with me once again to a place far, far away and many, many years ago, to the Holy Land, it’s shortly after the resurrection, and Jesus gives his disciples some interestingly curious instructions – ones we continue to follow to this day!!! “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15 KJV
Jesus says to these 11 guys who by the way, up to that point, hadn’t shown in any measurable way a capacity for conquering the world. In fact when they realized Jesus was facing certain death, all of the disciples but one bailed. One committed suicide, one denied having ever known Jesus. The rest just ran for their lives, with the exception of John, who stayed till the end.
Jesus instruction “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”– sounds impossible, especially for this group doesn’t it? Jesus command in another gospel is to “make disciples of all nations.” How in the world is this group supposed to accomplish this?
Talk about a “Defining Moment” for these Christ followers!! Here they are for the most part on the run, but that is about to change. Three significant things happen that really turned the tide for the disciples.
The Resurrection of Jesus…. They saw, they believed, they were filled with new courage and resolve.
The Power of the Holy Spirit…. Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive Power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses…” (Scripture Slide) They waited and they were filled and empowered by the Spirit of Christ.
God’s Strategic Timing….You know the story of Pentecost, gathered in the upper room praying, God came, people are showing up to see what is happening, Peter preaches a sermon and 3,000 folks become Christ followers. They return to their homes all around the world, and the message goes viral.
Suddenly, Jesus command to “Make Disciples” and “Preach the Gospel to the whole World” seems much more like a possibility.
In the days and weeks following Pentecost, the Jesus movement explodes with growth – conversions, miracles, needs met by the sharing of resources, and the Bible says the “Lord was adding to their number daily.”
Then the trouble began. Peter and John are brought before the religious leaders and told to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. You know their response – in that “Defining Moment” – they stand Strong, knowing the miracle working power of Christ resurrected, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses.
As a result the Disciples are arrested and put in jail, and then the Bible says a messenger of the Lord came along and released the disciples. The next day they are back preaching and teaching, so again they are rounded up. Acts 5:27 picks up the story: (reading of Acts 5:27-32 NIV) with Scripture Slides.
27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest:
28 We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, he said. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: We must obey God rather than men!
30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead – whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.
31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.
32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.
No question in my mind the disciples were walking through a succession of “Defining Moments” in the life of the early church.
“Defining Moments” – as I mentioned earlier, we all face these times in our lives. It seems to me that we are in one of those periods of history once again that we could say is a “Defining Moment”.
The call and commission to us as Christ Followers is to be “World Changers” to go and make a difference. So let me ask you: What kind of church makes a difference in their community? What kind of person makes a difference in their place of work? The Biblical account we have just read highlights three important specifics that took place.
- The Disciples filled Jerusalem with teaching about Jesus.
Verse 28 “You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching about him.” NLT
- Our task is to talk about Jesus more than anything else.
We can talk about a lot of stuff, and we do, but the question is how much of our conversation is about Jesus – not politics, not the current cultural crisis, or the economy or the current theological trends. In our individual lives as well as in the church, our conversation may well point to our greatest interests.
Through Jesus we have forgiveness and peace, our lives are transformed and filled with His grace, we are empowered and cleansed by His Spirit. His teachings are the greatest lessons ever heard; His life is the greatest story ever told….how can we not talk about Jesus?
- The Disciples walked in surrendered Obedience.
Verse 29 “Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”
- We need to Honor God above anyone else.
A verse that I believe should be considered:
“Therefore, the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi would always be my priests. But I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those who think lightly of me.” I Samuel 2:30 NLT
The scenarios are many and seeming to increase continually as we are confronted by the strong cultural change in our North American society. Obeying the voice and direction of our Lord Jesus or the multitude of other voices, that is too often the question we are facing today. The practical examples of this type of challenge for today’s Christians are mounting in almost every area of our society.
I can almost hear Joshua calling out – “. . . Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . .” Joshua 25:15 NIV
When we approach life with an attitude that lets everyone know – gently and respectfully – that I will honor God above all others, people will notice and that’s how we change the World.
One last thing that I notice in this passage of scripture:
- When Peter talked to the Sanhedrin he emphasized that Jesus came offering forgiveness.
Verse 31 “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of our sins to Israel.”
- We need to love people more than anything else.
Peter and Johns driving motivation as well as the disciples was to see people saved, their lives transformed by “Resurrection Power” and set free by the truth.
There is a reason the early church changed the world. Not only did they proclaim the name of Jesus, not only were they willing to take a stand for God, but they also loved people.
The church when it’s at its best is all about helping people!! Bringing Hope and Help through the power of Christ’s love. Demonstrating God’s love by what it does.
Could it be that some appropriate questions in our board meetings may be – “How are we showing this community God’s love? Is our church bringing HOPE to our community? What are we doing to serve others, to bless others, and to minister to others?
Jesus said, “The greatest among you must be a servant.” Matthew 23:11 NLT
The early church made a difference – they were World Changers, whose message centered on Jesus. They were willing to take a stand and even suffer for what was right. They honored God above anyone else. The early church made a difference because they cared. They wanted to see people saved and fed and taken care of, they loved people.
I believe as we continue to seek the Lords leading in our communities and follow the example and priorities of the early church – we too will increasingly become “World Changers” making a life giving difference in our communities, agents of reconciliation, Hope and Healing.
Pastors, church board members, Sunday school teachers, leaders, could I encourage you to get ahold of God’s dream for your community, dream big and pray big asking our Lord for His strategies!!! Start some new outreach ministries, maybe focused on meeting needs in your community. Maybe even think about your church becoming a mother church and working together to plant a new church in your geographic area.
It seems way too easy to fall into the trap of allowing the routine of our lives to crowd out the passion of walking as a “World Changer”.
Would you consider joining us on Thursday’s, which our District Advisory Board has designed as our “Alaska District day of Prayer and Fasting”, you will find a flyer in your packet with some information and some prayer requests. Fast a meal on that day, or follow a creative Fast as the Lord Jesus leads you.
Spend that time in prayer, for our district, for our pastors, our church boards, that we would clearly see the mission and how to strategically follow the Lords leading in reaching Alaska for Him. Join us in praying for “Revival and Spiritual Awakening” here in Alaska.
Many of you know the story of Jonathan Edwards and his powerful preaching of his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” J. Wilbur Chapman reminds us in his description of Jonathan Edwards. Says Chapman, “I have been in that old church in New England where Jonathan Edwards preached his great sermon. He had a little manuscript which he held up so close to his face that they could not see his countenance. But as he went on and on, the people in the crowded church were tremendously moved. One man jumped to his feet and cried for mercy. Other men caught hold of the backs of the pews lest they should slip into perdition. I have seen the old pillars around which they threw their arms, when they thought the Day of Judgment had dawned upon them. The power of that sermon is still felt in the United States today.”
Chapman then shared the full story of this powerful sermon. For three days prior to that historic day Edwards prayed, “Give me New England! Give me New England!” When the day finally arrived to preach, Edwards made his way into the pulpit with live-changing power. Some say it looked as if he had been gazing straight into the face of God. When he opened his lips to speak, conviction fell with an intensity seldom known. The unction of God’s Spirit on Edwards’ preaching came directly from the closet of prayer.
Please join us in Missional Prayer for Revival & Spiritual Awakening here in the “Great Land”.
Follow us on “Facebook” where I post weekly “Missional Prayer” updates.
Another area in which we would ask you to pray with us is the planting of new churches in Alaska. I have appointed an “Alaska District Church Planting Task Force” and we are working on possible strategic church plants in the future. You will remember we have some powerful goals that will require the miraculous power of our God to see accomplished.
Share the Alaska 20/22 Vision:
“By the year 2022 the Lord is leading us in Alaska to be a district of fifty two strong and healthy, externally focused, spiritual vibrant, Missional local congregations. Faith communities built strongly on the Living Word of God, who are continually seeking transformational impact within: individuals, families, extended families, and communities.”
I love the quote from O. Hallesby’s book entitled “Prayer”.
“The work of Praying is prerequisite to all other work in the Kingdom of God, for the simple reason that it is by prayer that we couple the powers of Heaven to our helplessness, the powers which can turn water into wine and remove mountains in our own lives and the lives of others, the powers which can awaken those who sleep in sin and raise up the dead, the power which can capture strongholds and make the impossible possible.”
Ephesians 3:20 NASB
“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Please dream with me Pastor for your congregation and community, laymen dream with your pastor – let’s get ahold of Gods dream and desire for “the Great land” in which we live.
Pray with me Pastor, Pastors pray with your people – Gods dream for a transformed Alaska!!! “He is exceeding abundantly able to do beyond all that we ask or think….. PTL
In Conclusion I simply want to express my thanks to the team that I serve with; our District Advisory board: Dennis Strait, Dick Smith, John Linnell, Pastors Dan Wiese, Gene Rosebecke, and MJ Quick. As well as our Auxiliary Chairmen: Kathy Wigginton – NMI President, Stephen Sheets – SDMI Chairman, and David Smith our NYI President. You’re a great group of leaders and I love serving with you!!
I also want to say thank you to our very able District Treasurer – Denise Linnell and our District Secretary – Pastor Jason Evoy, you’re a blessing!!!
To all those who serve so faithfully on our district boards and councils, it really does take a team effort and your contribution is supremely important – thank you!!!
And to my wife Patti, I love you and love serving with you!!!
Finally I simply want to say to each of you called Nazarenes on the Great Alaska District – thank you so much for the privilege of serving as your Superintendent.
Paul R. Hartley
Pastor Paul & Patti Hartley