A note to all clergy who may sense an urge/call to serve a church in Alaska
By Rev. David Beckett, Conference Superintendent
Welcome to the Alaska United Methodist Conference. We are a diverse group of 28 churches, two community institutions, and two camps living and ministering with Alaskans for the sake of Christ. We need clergy leaders who feel a deep call to be in mission with people, who realize that God is already present among all peoples, who desire to see all people included in the life of the church, and who have a vital and personal faith.
The number one quality I seek in pastors to appoint to Alaska churches is adaptability. We need pastors who can move into a ministry context, sense what leadership style is needed, and who can implement that style to help that church meet its mission. It should not just be about replaying our demonstrated skills, but a desire to learn new skills for a new context.
One of these new skills is the ability to discern how to grow a church in our various Alaskan contexts. Bishop Grant Hagiya and I really desire to see the church grow in Alaska. So we want to raise the bar in terms of clergy effectiveness. We want the best and brightest pastors to lead our churches into a new era of church growth.
Many new clergy share that it feels like coming home. My wife and four small children trekked here from Ohio thinking we could stay four years. That was in 1991 and I am serving my third appointment in Alaska. It is a place where people give you the freedom to be yourself, your real self, the self God is creating you to be.
If this is your desire, to live in a land of deep natural beauty and to give sacrificially in ways that give you life energy, then I invite you to pray and discern a call to come to the Alaska UM Conference. If you feel like exploring this further please complete this application. You can mail a paper copy to me at our office (1660 Patterson St. Anchorage, AK 99504) or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d also like two video sermons with one of them in a video of an entire worship service you have led.
Please don’t consider coming to Alaska if your main desire is to hunt, fish, or play. Do consider coming if you have a deep desire to serve God by serving people who will show you something of the magnificence of God in this Great Land.
Top 10 List of what the superintendent expects of all clergy serving in the Alaska United Methodist Conference
- BOUNDARIES. Respect all ethical boundaries of human behavior in your church and community. Be very aware to avoid situations where you are alone with a person who is fragile and vulnerable.
- FAMILY. Married clergy will need to pay special attention to their marriages and their children. The isolation and climate affects people in different ways. Single clergy need to find friends who can provide nurture and accountability.
- CONNECTIONALISM. Due to the isolation and remote geography of Alaska we really depend on each other. All pastors and lay professionals under appointment are expected to attend the annual clergy retreat and winter rendezvous in February, Fall rendezvous in October, regional program councils, and annual conference.
- PREACHING/WORSHIP. Work on your preaching and worship leadership. If there is one common quality our churches request at the time of a pastoral change it is that they desire a preacher who can offer a relevant, engaging message based on God’s Word they can take home and apply to their daily lives.
- SPIRITUAL LIFE. Read the Bible and pray daily. Be aware that spiritual insights are not always given to pass on to others, but for your soul’s benefit.
- LOVE. Love your congregation and community. In big and small ways show them that you are one of them, that you embrace this Alaskan life in its grandeur and in its sometimes difficult realities. Remember to include self-love and self-care for your physical and emotional well being.
- MISSION. Lead your congregation by example in reaching out to be in ministry with the poor and to engage your church in mission beyond themselves.
- EVANGELISM. Create a church system that is conducive to welcoming new people. Help them deal with the changes that are necessary in order to assimilate new people. Remember, disciple making is the purpose of the Church, and the work of a disciple is the transformation of the world.
- IMPROVE. Show a genuine willingness to become a better pastor. Take your continuing education seriously. Ask your SPRC for ideas. Consider relating your education experiences to the goals of your church.
- LAUGHTER. Look for ways to not take yourself so seriously. Letting things roll off your back with a humorous comment will go far to strengthen your emotional well being in Alaska.