“Neighbors Out the Front Door” — Aldersgate UMC

Submitted by Rev. Karen Dammann, Aldersgate UMC

The doors of Aldersgate UMC in Juneau, Alaska.

Aldersgate United Methodist Church was founded just 33 years ago in 1986. The congregation was intentionally planted in the midst of a low income housing area, to better serve those who live on the margins in the Mendenhall Valley. This setting sees a very high level of transition in and out of the neighborhood, with a high number of people moving in and out on a monthly basis. The congregation is a wonderful point of stability here, but it has not always been easy being off of “the beaten” path in such a rapidly changing environment. The immediate neighborhood has not been able to support the congregation financially over the years, and the next circle of housing is difficult to connect with due the configuration of streets in the area. We have had to employ some creativity in reaching out beyond the immediate setting to engage those who want to participate in our ministries and who can offer financial stability.

A new development of condos is going in across the street. The trees have been cleared and ground has been broken, and we anticipate steady construction through the winter. This will bring home owners to our immediate setting and we are excited about the stability that this will offer. We are looking forward to welcoming our new neighbors and offering them our hospitality.

New neighbors will be moving in across the street from Aldersgate UMC.

Our latest project was an attempt to respond to the serious lack of affordable child care in Juneau. Under the leadership of a member of Aldersgate who is passionate about serving the needs of children and families, we have become a Childcare Center licensed by the State of Alaska. We partner with the State and with the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska to provide childcare for over 30 children from very low income families.

We have intentionally sought to be a safe place for the LGBTQ community in Juneau. We host family nights, potlucks, game nights, dances, open mics, and other celebrations, including a Celebration of the Saints of the LGBTQ community, who have lost their lives in the fight for equality.

Stability is our greatest challenge as our members and constituents are constantly moving into and out of Juneau. It impacts our ministry at every level, from volunteers who manage our ministries to our finances. Last year all but one of our newly received members moved to the lower 48. Never-the-less, we continue in the work we are called to in our Mission Field of the Mendenhall Valley and Juneau.

Thank you for your prayers and your support!

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