Finding Community Through the Back Door: Nome Community UMC

Written by Pastor Charles Brower of Community UMC of Nome, Alaska

The “front door” of Community UMC is where the playground is.

Every day, most everyone is actively engaged in all kinds of crowds: work crowds, school crowd, the crowds associated with our children’s activities,  and there is the church crowd. It can be easy to confuse our associations within these crowds with the experience of authentic community. Crowds are drawn together by activities, rather than to seek accountability and deeper meaning in our lives. Every crowd is defined by activities that draw us together.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10: 24-25 New International Version)

Nome’s Community United Methodist Church is not one’s usual United Methodist Church. To start, most congregants enter our church using the back door, then proceed through our fellowship hall to enter the sanctuary. On a good Sunday some two-dozen loving, hardy folks gather as a caring community to worship our creator, our loving God, and encourage one another to love and support one another.

We are THE COMMUNITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH  for Nome. Our mission happens mostly outside our walls. In our town of some three thousand seven hundred hardy souls, our church stands tall in the care and love we show to Nome and the sixteen other communities in the Norton Sound Region.  Our United Methodist Women operate the only Thrift Store in our region – providing clothing and sundry other items. The newborn babies of our region are welcomed into our community with a layette consisting of clothes, diapers, a blanket, and a toy. Some of our folks are seen daily picking litter off the streets and roads around Nome. We share worship experiences within the Quyana Care Center, an assisted living facility serving the Norton Sound Region.

The “back door” is where people come in and then go out to the world in service.

The Nome Community Center (motto: Serving elders, families, and youth since 1910), a non-profit organization, housed and loosely associated with our church, provide other community services: boys and girls club; XYZ elder meals, transportation, and healthy programs; food bank, homeless shelter during the cold months; youth court; short term training programs in growing healthy families; and a temporary home for children separated from family.

What is the church supposed to look like? It is small groups of people seeking to put the needs of others ahead of their own. They are servants and ministers to one another watching out for one another, caring for one another and encouraging one another. In Nome’s Community United Methodist Church you get to know everyone. You can connect with people to help build one another up and join in an uncommon community for the sake of connecting diverse people to a lifestyle devoted to following our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and loving all our neighbors!

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