Saturday, December 21, 2013

Advent & Christmas Seasons

We've lit up the building, inside and out this year.  Somehow that makes it feel more festive and a little bit warmer.  The extra light brightens the season here in the North where daylight is at a premium at this time of year.  

We've been enjoying the weekly lighting of the Advent candles and reflecting upon the meaning for the season.  Last week (photo above) we celebrated the 3. Advent (theme of JOY) by giving pink roses to those who attended our evening celebration ("Heaven @ Seven"). The theme for the 4th Sunday is "Love."  We would *LOVE* to have you attend one of our activities as we bring Advent to a close and begin our celebration of Christmas: 

Sunday, the 22nd, we have our two morning services (8:30 and 10:00).  Our evening informal gathering "Heaven @ 7" is, as you guessed it, at 7 p.m.

On Monday, the 23rd, we will go caroling around the community.  This is a good chance to share our love and care for the people of Girdwood, as well as members of our chapel who are shut-in or unable to attend services regularly.  We will be gathering at 7 p.m. and head out to sing shortly thereafter.  We hope to be back at the chapel by 8:30 p.m. to enjoy a time of singing Christmas carols while enjoying some warm chocolate, cider, etc., to warm back up again.  Join us for either/both activities.

On Tuesday, the 24th (Christmas Eve), the annual Christmas pageant will be presented at the Hotel Alyeska, followed by our Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. in our chapel.

We hope to see you at these holiday activities.  Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Join the Conspiracy!

Join us at Girdwood Chapel during the Advent season (Dec. 1-25) to learn more about this "Christian conspiracy" to "take back" Christmas from consumerism that some say has stolen the soul of Christmas.

Those who take a stand against consumerism will join thousands of other Christians who are choosing to make Christmas what it should be -- a joyous celebration of Jesus' birth, not a retail circus.  We will be challenged during this time to substitute compassion for consumerism by practicing four simple, but powerful, countercultural concepts:

• Worship Fully - Because Christmas begins and ends with Jesus!
• Spend Less - and free your resources for things that truly matter.
• Give More - of your presence (not presents): your hands, your words, your time, your heart.
• Love All - the poor, the forgotten, the marginalized, the sick, in ways that make a difference

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Are You an "Almost-Christian"?

The adult Sunday School class (that meets Sundays at 11:15) has begun a six-week study of Bob Crossman's book, "Committed to Christ - Six Steps to a Generous Life."  It is a book on Christian "stewardship."

But what I find striking about the book (so far) is the introductory section that precedes the six lessons.  The author points out that NOTHING contained in the book is more important than knowing whether or not the reader has established a "relationship" with Christ.  Without such a decision, a person is merely an "almost Christian."  This is a critical point.  Mr. Crossman states:

"John Wesley, Anglican priest and founder of the eighteenth century Methodist movement, was a preacher's kid.  From Wesley's perspective at his father's side, he saw lots of churchgoers who lived without purpose, claiming to be Christians because they went to church and had been baptized.  Wesley believed there must be more to Christianity than sitting in worship on Sunday morning and going through a baptism ceremony.  He began to seek the answer to some basic questions:

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

What does the LORD expect of His faithful followers?
What "holy habits" should be present in the believer's life?

After years of thought and practice, Wesley eventually made a distinction between what he called the "almost Christian" and the "altogether Christian."  The almost-Christian, Wesley preached in a famous sermon, will attend worship every Sunday; pray; respect common honesty; never steal a neighbor's property; feed the hungry; refrain from cursing or gossiping; and may use time and talents to serve God.  Wesley, describing himself in his early years, said,

'It is possible to go this far and yet be but almost a Christian.  I used all diligence to avoid evil and keep a clear conscience.  I was careful of my time, using every opportunity to do good.  I was constantly using all the means of grace.  With God as my witness, I did this with all sincerity, having a real desire to serve God.  Yet, all that time I was only almost a Christian.'" (pp. 14 & 15)

If this is what an "almost-Christian" is, what do you think Wesley meant by an "altogether Christian?"  Startling thought, to think that many folks who, judging from their church experience, SEEM to be true Christians, may actually only be "almost" a Christian.   They've put the cart before the horse, so to speak; in fact, in could be stated that there is NO horse at all!

Intrigued by this distinction?  Come to Sunday School this weekend and find out more.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

FUNday School Begins!

Introducing ...

Highlight from Day One:

Funday School kids help dig up potatoes
from the Girdwood Chapel
Community Garden.

(The kids got to take some home; the rest
were donated to the Girdwood Food Pantry.)

BTW, grown-up's have their own 
class at the same time,
so the whole family can attend!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to School!

Yes, it's that time of year again!  The start of school always seems to bring change --- whether its to our sleep patterns, our daily routines, even our priorities.  From now until May, life in Girdwood will, for the many people, revolve around the school year.

This week Girdwood School opened its doors to second through eighth graders.  (Kindergarteners and first graders will be ushered through the doors next week.)  

Perhaps the greatest change will be for our freshmen (high schoolers).  They no longer attend school in Girdwood.  This means getting up VERY early to meet the school bus that takes them to South High School in Anchorage.   We pray for all of our students, of course; but we put a little extra effort into praying for those who travel the scenic, but challenging forty-five minute route to and from Anchorage.

Girdwood Chapel helps support the local school in several ways.  One of these is our annual donation of school supplies to Girdwood School for those students that do not have them.  Members of the congregation are encouraged to bring their donations to the chapel on Sunday, August 25th. 

Also on this date we will have our annual "Blessing of the Backpacks" at the 10 a.m. service.  Students and teachers are encouraged to bring their backpacks, lunch boxes, briefcases, etc., to the service.  

Join with us as we pray for God's protection for our children as they travel to and from school, and for wisdom for the teachers and staff as they work with our students.  Most importantly, let's all remember to thank Him for giving us these wonderful children to bring up the "right way":

"Teach a child how to follow the right way; even when s/he is old, s/he will stay on course."  -- Proverbs 22:6


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Working Together

This past weekend we opened our church parking lot to visitors to the annual Girdwood Forest Fair.  This year we received over 2,000 dollars in donations, all which will be put into the chapel's Building Fund!  

We couldn't have done it without the volunteers from the congregation who not only helped folks park their vehicles and gather the donations; we also welcomed visitors into our chapel, making our bathrooms available, providing snacks, hot/cold drinks, even setting out bug spray and dog food!

There were numerous opportunities to share with folks the story of Girdwood Chapel.  We were encouraged when some would make an extra donation or tell us that they, too, were followers of Christ.  More than a few folks complimented us on the design of the church.  We hope some will take the time to visit this website and learn more about us.

This coming week we will be welcome a summer work team from Meridian, Mississippi.  They will be a BIG help as we continue to complete our building on the inside AND out.  This will also be another chance for our congregation to step up and be hospitable hosts ... provide housing, snacks, and work alongside believers from the Lower 48.  

These are chances for our little congregation to gain encouragement as we work together.  This is the LORD's chapel and the LORD's people are working together to build it.  Thank you for whatever role you play in helping in this effort.

(Check out our photos in the "Scrapbook" section of this website to see what's happening at Girdwood Chapel!)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Church is a Verb" (but what kind?)

Dust off your 8th grade English grammar class knowledge, if you will.  (For some of us, that's a LOT of dust!)  If you recall, there are two types of verbs -- active and state of being.  He hit the ball; she rode her bike. vs.  He is kind; she was sick. My point is this: When we say at Girdwood Chapel that "church is a verb," what kind of verb are we talking about?

I just returned from a short vacation to my hometown in Southern California.  While there I worshipped at my home church.  I was struck by the vast differences between it and Girdwood Chapel.  It wasn't just the size of the congregation (three services!) or the music (choir/orchestra/interpretive dance) or the message (with multimedia).

Perhaps it's unfair to evaluate a church from one service or to suppose that everyone attends church with the same purpose in mind.  But it seemed to me on that Sunday morning I was seated with a huge audience that appeared to assemble for a different reason and purpose than I what I feel I experience at Girdwood Chapel.  Perhaps the difference can be summed up this way:

As I reflected upon my experience, I thought back to Supt. Beckett's February sermon at Girdwood Chapel regarding "preference-driven" and "purpose-driven" Christians.  Is my choice of church based upon what *I* am getting from the church, or do I attend church because I want to be part of a community of believers, supporting each other as we live out the idea: "church is an (active) verb"? 

When I first moved to Girdwood I commuted regularly to Anchorage, looking for a church home.  I was looking for an "experience" that would meet my spiritual needs.  But it slowly dawned on me that I was overlooking an essential element of "church" -- to be a part of a local community of believers, accountable to each other and serving together to reach out to those around us here ... not "there."

Girdwood Chapel has five major tasks for the congregation to consider during this interim period between pastors.  One of them is: "discovering a new identity."  Perhaps we should be asking ourselves, "what kind of verb do we want Girdwood Chapel to be?" (And, by extension, what kind of Christian do I want to be?)  A "be-er" or a "do-er"?


Friday, May 10, 2013

At the conclusion of last Sunday's 10 a.m. service, Leo McLoughlin stood before the congregation to announce that Superintendent Beckett had made a decision regarding the appointment of a pastor for Girdwood Chapel.  His decision was ...

to extend the appointment of our interim pastor, Linda Jean Myers, for another year.

Linda Jean will continue to minister to our congregation on a part-time basis.  We will provide her with a place here in Girdwood to live and work on weekends.  Her family will remain in Anchorage where her husband, Ron Myers, is the minister at the downtown United Methodist Church.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Everything Is The Same, But Different

Pastor Linda Jean shared last Sunday a phrase she often heard growing up, "everything is the same, but different."  So it appears to be here at Girdwood Chapel.

Now that our pastor of twelve years is gone, Girdwood Chapel looks/feels the same, but different.   While I don't pretend to know WHY we weren't immediately assigned a new pastor, nevertheless it would appear (to the untrained eye) that this might be a good time for our chapel's congregation to look at itself critically.  While we await the appointment of a new pastor, it's a good time to ask ourselves some very important questions:

Why do we attend Girdwood Chapel?  If Girdwood Chapel ceased to exist, would anyone (but ourselves) notice it?  Does Girdwood Chapel need to change/improve anything?

With a new pastor, some things will change, of course; however, what should those changes be? Must we wait passively and accept what/who we're given, or can we anticipate change, prepare ourselves for it, and become part of the process?

One thing I've noticed (in retrospect) is that perhaps, too often, the church relies so much on its pastor that it loses sight of its collective responsibility to one another.  A body isn't composed solely of a head.  We are a BODY of believers with different parts (spiritual gifts/abilities) to help coordinate us.  (For more on this concept, look at 1 Cor 12:12-27.)  

This "interim" gives us the chance to take a look at what all of us "bring to the table."  Who are the hands of the church, the heart, the feet, of change here at Girdwood Chapel?  What are our role(s) in (re)making Girdwood Chapel a visible, vibrant, and valuable part of our own lives, those of the congregation, and then to the community at large.  

So, how do we go from here?  The United Methodist Church leadership has given us five "talking points" to help us.  We are at step two of the process -- (re)discovering our "identity."  

I have NO idea how we do that, so I unabashedly proclaim to you a "cut-and-paste" suggestion taken directly from the Internet.  I don't own it; I'm not promoting it, either.  Like you, I'm trying to figure out what it might mean.  Here's one person's "take" on the issue:

Paths to Discovering a Church’s Identity

Congregational Identity

The Spiritual Dynamic

What are our Biblical values?
What are our Biblical convictions?
What spiritual experiences have most of us had?
The Demographic Dynamic

What is our age?
What is our income?
Where do we live and work?
What is our ethnicity?
The Organizational Dynamic

How do things get done?
How do we communicate with each other?
How are decisions made?
What programs/activities do we do together?
Who is admitted as a member, and as a leader?
How do we relate to other churches and our denomination?
Our Community Identity

Research through government publications
Research through interviewing community leaders
Research through home-to-home visitation
©Mark Kelley 2010
There will be an all-church meeting after the 10 a.m. church service this coming Sunday.  We will be discussing these and other questions at this time.  Lunch and child care are provided.  All we need now is a good number of folks to be present for the discussion.  Thank you for attending!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013 Pledge Drive

If you're like me, news of a "pledge drive" is about as thrilling as hearing that the April deadline for filing income tax is fast approaching.  However, without a pledge drive, Girdwood Chapel could not write a realistic budget for the year.

This year's budget is of vital importance, as it pertains to the future of Girdwood Chapel.  As we look forward to the arrival of a resident pastor in our community, it is important to determine the level of financial support we can provide.

Are we financially able to support a full-time pastor, or even a 3/4-time pastor?  The answer to this important question lies, in part, with our best "guesstimate" of our financial income for the year.  That brings us to the "pledge drive."

Girdwood Chapel depends upon its congregation to contribute to the life and mission of our faith community.  The funds we collect are used for the whole work of the church.  Just how much we will be able to do this year is determined, in part, by our annual budget.

The term "pledge" has been (incorrectly) interpreted as a promise or obligation to the Chapel.  It is not.  The amount you pledge (by faith) is your decision, based upon your financial situation as you hope it to be in 2013.  "Life happens" and, with it, the amount you will be able to actually give.

We just ask, as a chapel, that you give us a ballpark figure upon which to base our budget.  With our budget written, we can proceed to make decisions that will affect all of us who call Girdwood Chapel our church "home."

The 2013 Pledge Cards are available at the church.  You may wish to electronically download the card and submit it either by e-mail or regular mail to the addresses printed below.  Thank you, in advance, for your participation in the annual pledge drive.

Girdwood Chapel e-mail address:

Girdwood Chapel mailing address:   P.O. Box 1068, Girdwood AK 99587


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter News

We had a good crowd at both the mountaintop sunrise service and the 11 a.m. service down in the valley.  As always, the crowd at the top was mostly from out-of-town; but even at the 11 a.m. service we had a good number of visitors. (One group said they were from Virginia!)

We tried something new at the 11 a.m. service.  We used the video player to display music and text both before and after the service.  Folks seemed to enjoy the "Hallelujah Chorus" as interpreted by the Yup'ik community of Quinhagak.  (We could well understand why their version has been viewed by over one-million people on You Tube.)  The twenty-second pealing of the bells (from Seville, Spain, also via You Tube) was a nice touch.

The sunrise service folks pitched in and gave just over $800 to our new one-time emergency needs fund.  This is especially good news since (by a show of hands) most of those assembled up-top were not from the Girdwood area.

We are also extremely grateful to announce the receipt of two very sizeable donations toward the elimination of our debt (mortgage).  One gift was for $4,000 and the other was for $1,500!  Such generosity is especially encouraging as the chapel finalizes its 2013-14 general budget.

Although we didn't mention it at the Easter service, we have recently distributed "pledge cards" to the congregation and hope these will be returned to us a.s.a.p.  We need to create a more realistic operating budget, to help us determine what type of position Supt. Beckett can advertise (3/4 or full-time resident pastor).  Please note that the term "pledge" is different than a "promise," in that those who state their estimated giving amount on the card are not creating an obligation; we at Girdwood Chapel understand that "life happens" and that "reality can bite."  Think of it as a sort of "faith promise" that you can hopefully complete in the coming year.  We thank you, in advance, for whatever amount you feel you can give to the chapel this coming year.

Also, for those who are unable to attend services (out-of-state / illness, etc.) but would like to turn in a pledge card, please contact us and we'll get one sent to you right away!

Thank you, in advance, for whatever part you can play in helping Girdwood Chapel create its budget for the coming year.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter 2013

Some Easter Thoughts

1. The Paschal greeting is an Easter  custom among many Christians. Christos Aneste ("Χριστός ἀνέστη!" - "Christ is Risen!" in Greek) and its response Alithos Anesti ("Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! " - "Truly He is Risen!" or "He Has Risen Indeed!")  On this day, instead of greeting one another with, "Hello," or even, "Happy Easter!" you might want to say to your fellow believers: 

"Christ is Risen!  
and wait for the response:
                       He is Risen, indeed!"

Keith & Kristyn Getty

2.  Have you ever wondered how the life of Christ might have played out "online" if the Roman Empire had Twitter?  Here is one possibility:

3.  Hey kids!  Here are 3 Easter songs that you might like to sing!  (Grownup's can sing along, too!)

4.  Test your Easter Bible knowledge (answers at the bottom of this page)

a.  Judas (one of the original 12 disciples) betrayed Christ and subsequently committed suicide.  Who took his place?

b.  What was the name of the hill where Jesus was crucified?  (hint: it was called "Place of the Skull")

c.  How many trials was Jesus subjected to before being crucified?

d.  How many of these trials were legal under the law?

e.  Who was the first person to see Jesus on Resurrection Sunday?

5.  How about some non-Biblical Easter trivia?  (Stump your friends, before they stump you!)

•  Egyptians were initially the ones who exchanged eggs to symbolize the resurrection of Christ. It was later that the tradition was passed down to early Christians.

•  Hot cross buns, made by European monks, are counted amongst the earliest Easter treats. They were given to the poor people, during the month of Lent.

•  On Easter, 76% people bite off the chocolate bunny ears first, while 5% bite the feet first and 4% eat the tail first.

•  Easter has been named after Eastre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess. The symbols of the goddess were the hare and the egg.

•  Red jellybeans qualify as the most favorite food stuff for kids on Easter.

•  The first Easter basket was given the appearance of a bird's nest.

•  In the mid-20th century, it used to take as much as 27 hours to make a marshmallow peep. Today, the time has been reduced to six minutes.

Test answers:  a) Matthias (Acts 1:12-26)  b)  Golgotha    c)  six        d)  none      e)  Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9)  


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Passion Week

This holiest of weeks on the Christian calendar is summed up in one word -- "passion."  The term evokes strong emotions.  The streets of Jerusalem resound with exuberant "hosannas" on Palm Sunday; however, by Friday they echo with the harsh cries "Crucify Him!"  Thankfully, excited whispers of "He is risen!" restores hope to the faithful on Easter Sunday.

Pastor Myers challenged the congregation on Palm Sunday to observe the depths of Christ's Passion between the two celebration events which anchor Passion Week at both ends.  We must not overlook the significance of what comes in between.*

Girdwood Chapel will host a service on Friday evening at 7 p.m.  The gathering will be a combination of Maundy Thursday (the "Last Supper," the Garden of Gethsemane and the betrayal) and a Good Friday service.

Easter Sunday we will have two occasions to celebrate.  First, we join with the community at the top of the mountain at 8 a.m.  (Please note the time change.)  Supt. Dave Beckett will deliver the message.  Because there is only one operational tram, folks are encouraged to arrive early (first tram leaves at 6:30 a.m.).  Dress warmly, as the wait time will be considerable, especially after the service ends.

We follow this with a service at the chapel at 11 a.m.  (There will be NO 8:30 service.)  At the conclusion of the 11 a.m. service, there will be a fellowship time.  If you are able, please bring snack foods to share.

May you have a "passionate" week!  We hope to see you on Friday & Sunday!!

* For a brief chronology of events outlined in the Gospels that occurred during Passion Week, please click on the following link:


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Increasing Our "Visibility"

The Girdwood Chapel Steering Committee is looking for ways to increase our "visibility" in the community.  The congregation already believes that "Church is a Verb," so we recognize our role in being a visible form of Christ in our community.

But we also recognize that we need to be more creative in helping folks learn about us in other ways.  Not only have we increased our "visibility" on the Internet through this website and on Facebook; we are exploring other methods, as well:

Sunday morning - directional signs
Bumper/Window Decals

We are also in the process of designing a "rack card" that can be placed in various places around our community (e.g. the hotel, B&B's, community bulletin boards, etc.).  Please note that the design and wording of the rack card is not final.  Your input is important as we discuss and define who "we" are as a congregation.

If you have additional ideas that could increase Girdwood Chapel's "visibility," please let us know!  Hopefully, you will see more of "us" around town in the coming months!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mrs. Blackburn's Visit

We had a good turnout for our first-Sunday-of-the-month breakfast potluck.  Our special guest was Mrs. Nora Blackburn, whose generous donation of land to Girdwood Chapel has enabled us to pay down our mortgage debt!  

During the service that followed, she was presented two gifts of appreciation.  She then spoke to the congregation briefly about her memories of Alaska, including Girdwood Chapel.  

Rev. Walt Hays followed with a message that described the history of not only Girdwood Chapel's beginnings, but of the Methodist Church itself.  

After the service, Mrs. Blackburn traveled to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.  Her behind-the-scenes visit was arranged by Tom Yaeger, operations manager at the AWCC and husband of Lenore Yaeger, our chapel's Steering Committee chairperson.  She writes:

"(Tom) arranged the tour. It went very, very well. Mona had an absolutely great time watching the brown bears, who were out. She was then able to feed the Sitka deer babies, a porcupine and the moose. She really, really loves moose who apparently really, really love bananas and feeding them I think was her highlight. It was a very good day. Mona was truly gracious and humble."

To learn more about Mrs. Blackburn, pick up a copy of last week's Turnagain Times.  A reporter from the newspaper attended the potluck and service.  Hopefully, we'll be back in the Turnagain Times again this week!

** Please click on the "Scrapbook" page for photos from the potluck & service.**

Sunday, February 24, 2013

*Sneak Peek*

Mrs. Mona Blackburn, who recently generously donated property to Girdwood Chapel, will be our guest this coming Sunday morning between services.  (By the way, this will be the re-start of our first-Sunday-of-the-month breakfast potlucks.)

Among the thank-you gifts that she will receive is a small twenty-page photo history book of Girdwood Chapel.  We only made ONE copy of the book because we are in the process of gathering more photographs, anecdotes, and church information.  Hopefully, a more substantial photo history will be produced by spring.

In the meantime, here is a "sneak peek" of the book that Mrs. Blackburn will be receiving.  (Please double-click on a "page" to open it):

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Build Your Kingdom Here

About a dozen people stayed after church today (3/17) for a potluck meal and to look at our first (of five) "tasks" we have as a congregation during this six-month transition period.  Task #1 asks the church to review its history, evaluate where it stands currently, and to consider any short- or long-term goals.

Most who attend Girdwood Chapel now have little knowledge of our early years as a community church.  Old photos (and memories) are being collected and put into a Girdwood Chapel history book.  (Your help in collecting photos and written recollections are MOST welcome.)

Some of the photos have been put into a music video.  You can find the video on the "About Us" page of this website.  Meanwhile, here are the challenging/uplifting lyrics to the song, as performed by the UK Christian group "Rend Collective."

Rend Experiment – Build Your Kingdom

Come set Your rule and reign
In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray
Unveil why we're made
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
Like wildfire in our very souls
Holy Spirit come invade us now
We are Your Church
We need Your power
In us

We seek Your kingdom first
We hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives
For You're our joy and prize
To see the captive hearts released
The hurt; the sick; the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for Heaven's cause
We are Your church
We pray revive
This Earth

Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
We pray

Unleash Your kingdom's power
Reaching the near and far
No force of hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts
You made us for much more than this
Awake the kingdom seed in us
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ
We are Your church
We are the hope 
On Earth