Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Thankful for Vital Communication that is ALWAYS Open!

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


I’ve heard many times in recent years that we live in “The Age of Communication.”  People are “on-line”, “plugged-in”, and “connected” . . . supposedly.  Modern technology exists all around the world.  People in Alaska can talk to and see what is happening in New York City, in China, or Africa!  Even in the village of Eek we saw children on their cellular devices – connected!


But some say, with good reason, that there is too much information available and we experience “information overload.”  Have you gone to Google to find out information on a topic?  Have you visited Wikipedia?  Once you find your information, is it reliable?


Others say that we are so “connected” that there is no real communication.  People communicate by Facebook, or by text message, or by e-mail (like this one).  But, how many people sit down and look another person in the eye, and talk person to person about something really vital or important?  Perhaps in this “Communication Age” there is less real communication going on in the lives of individuals.


These topics fill my mind and heart because we had a communication challenge while our St. John AMC VBS team was in the village of Eek in early July.  I had thought of trying to get a GCI cell phone for our trip, knowing that GCI is the only network that works in much of rural Alaska.  (I learned this fact most vividly when my daughter, Mary, was teaching in Chevak.)  But, I never got around to making those arrangements.  We had no GCI network phone.


So, while in Eek, all our adults had cell phones, but we could not use them to call, or to text, or to get onto the internet.  This created some communication challenges.  Not only could we not communicate with family at home, but also had some challenges reaching people in the village.  For example, our contact, George Alexie, would come by the place we were staying a number of times a day.  We could ask questions and get things taken care when George visited.  But, if we needed to contact George we could not do so.  We did not have phones that worked.


In order to travel by plane to and from the villages, a person gets in touch with the Airline Contact.  Emma was the airline contact person in Eek.  When we wanted to check on our flights out of Eek we were told to get in touch with Emma.  But, we did not have phones that worked.


One of the blessings in Eek is they now have a water system up and working.  George says he got water to his home last summer.  However, there was no running water yet in the place we stayed.  Yet, the village did open up the washerteria for us.  Fritz was the person in Eek in charge of the washerteria and opened it up one night so we could use the showers.  Realizing how much we appreciated the showers, Fritz later came by to tell me, “Anytime you want a shower, just call me up and I’ll open it for you.”  But, we couldn’t call Fritz.  We did not have phones that worked.


Our team is not the only example of people having trouble with communicating, even with all our technology.  How about you?  Have you ever called someone, but they did not answer?  Have you ever text-messaged someone, but they did not text back?  Have you ever e-mailed someone, but have gotten no response?  Listening is the most important part of communicating.  But sometimes we also need to speak.  What if you speak, but you are not heard?


There is one very important communication that does not require cell service, and where the One with whom we communicate always hears our message and always answers.  Listen to what Jesus teaches His disciples about prayer. 


7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!


Jesus tells us that our Heavenly Father always hears us.  The Lord always answers us, even if we can’t understand His answer, at least for the moment.  God’s answer always includes His goodness, even if we have trouble seeing, or understanding God’s goodness.


If communicating with others is important, communication with our Lord, our Creator, our Savior, our Comforter, is even more vital.  God speaks to us first in His Word, in the Scriptures and in His Son Jesus.  But, when we respond and speak to God there is never a network problem.  Our Heavenly Father hears and answers with His wisdom and love.  7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.


A Child of God, Thankful for Vital Communication that is Always Open,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Here are some pictures from our garden last week.


P.P.S.  These are summer pictures of the flowers in our front yard, this week. -


P.P.P.S.  Here are some pictures of an evening of fishing on a local lake.


P.P.P.P.S.  Here are some pictures of halibut fishing with my daughter, Mary, my niece, KJ, and her husband, Brian.  (Thank you, Fred Vasilie, cousin of Mike Sweeney and Karen Sweeney Johnson!)




ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ -   I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have.  (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.






VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!!  -  ST. JOHN VBS! – St. John Vacation Bible School is held during the mornings at St. John, July 23-27.  WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!  Please sign up on the sign up sheets in the narthex to help with VBS.



HELP NEEDED!! – Mark and Nicole Ford will be moving to Minnesota for Mark’s new job with the FAA which starts August 19.  The Ford’s are very active at St. John.  We will need folks to fill their place.


·         Treasurer – Mark works with Garnet Robertson on the job of treasurer for St. John.  They have the treasurer job down to a regular routine.  If someone can help in this area or is interested in serving please talk to Mark, or Garnet, or congregational president, Karl Kopperud, or Pastor Rockey.


·         Nursery – Nicole Ford staffs the nursery on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  If you are interested in helping in this area please talk with Cathy Glaser, or Karl Kopperud, or Pastor Rockey.  There is a $50.00 a week stipend for this service.





During Summer months our schedule changes.  However, we still have many regular activities for growth in faith and Christian Fellowship, . . . IN ADDITION TO regular summer worship. 


Please note our schedule below for your personal growth in Jesus.





·         The Book of Acts is being taught by Jim Summers in the fellowship hall.  There is nursery care offered during the class.


·         Prayer Ministry Opportunity – There are Elders in Pastor Allen’s former office between worship who are available for prayer each Sunday between services.


·         Summer Sunday School  Starts this Sunday–  Summer Sunday School is scheduled for July 8, 15, 22, 29, August 5, 12.  It started on July 8!

This Summer Sunday School will be one session for all ages, and will meet at the same time as the adult class is meeting.  We have six adults who have each volunteered to team up with another person for these sessions.  So, we have leaders but could use others to sit in and help.  The August sessions are now planned as  “Intergenerational.”


o   July 8 – Michelle Bower and Hunter Richards

o   July 15 – Hunter Richards and Jenny Carlson

o   July 22 – Nathan and Maranda Bower

o   July 29 – Michelle Bower and Ethan Mirly

o   August 5 – (Intergenerational), Ethan and Hunter

o   August 12 - (Intergenerational), Ethan and Hunter




·         TUESDAY - SUMMER HIKES! - St. John continues its tradition of weekly summer hikes on Tuesdays this year.  Meet a church at 9:00 a.m. to leave.  Bring a friend or a dog if you wish.  Plan on a day of hiking with fellow Christians and enjoy God’s outdoors!  Sara Guhl and DCE Intern Ethan Mirly are helping to lead these hikes.  ETHAN LEADS A HIKE UP THE BUTTE THIS TUESDAY!


·         WEDNESDAY


o   WEDNESDAY WORSHIP – Wednesday worship is offered each week at 6:30 p.m. at St. John.  This service gives another worship opportunity to God’s family in addition to Sunday worship services.  If a person cannot worship on Sunday, the same readings from Sunday are used on Wednesdays, with a different sermon from the Sunday morning sermon.  In addition, if someone wants an additional opportunity for growth and fellowship and praise, Wednesday worship can provide that opportunity.  Come and join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.



o   Middle School Youth meet at St. John from 5-6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.


o   High School Youth meet at St. John on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.


·         FRIDAY - NEW ORIGINAL BIBLE STUDY – Twenty and thirty something’s meet at the home of Hunter and Elizabeth Richard, 340 North Bonanza, on Friday nights for Food, Fellowship, and Bible Study.


·         SATURDAY ST. JOHN MEN’S BREAKFAST - The St. John men’s group, Promise Keepers, is meeting on Saturday mornings this summer at the Noisy Goose at 7:30 a.m. for food and fellowship.  ALL MEN are invited to join us.  “Fathers, feel free to bring your sons too!  SCOTT MANKE WILL LEAD DISCUSSION AT THE BREAKFAST THIS SATURDAY!


I pray that these activities provide you with opportunities for growth in your relationship with Jesus and times of service.





DAVE ANDERSON AND ROGER WALCK will present an August 5 CONCERT at St. John benefitting Shepherds Canyon Retreat Center (for church workers) at 6:00 p.m.  

Plan now to attend this concert!



Anchorage Lutheran Benefit Golf Tournament


From: Deborah <>
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:11 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Benefit Golf Tournament


You are cordially invited to Join Anchorage Lutheran Church and Thrivent Financial at a golf tournament benefiting:

·         Habitat for Humanity

·         Lutheran Social Services of Alaska

·         Anchor Lutheran School

The tournament is on Wednesday, August 8th at the Moose Run Golf Course and the 

event starts at 7:00 am


Please see the attached registration and tournament sponsorship form, or go to our website at to register.


If you have any questions, or need additional information, please call Anchorage Lutheran Church at 907-272-5323.




(Meeting coming SOON!)


Pastor Jonathan and Kathy Rockey will be leading a trip to Germany November 26-December 10, 2019.  We will start in Vienna and end in Berlin.  The focus of this trip will be Christmas markets, music, and Martin Luther.  Information about the itinerary, cost, and registration can be found at this link from Luther Tours. -

Already, even before publicity, about 15 people have indicated an interest in attending.  If you want to know more about this trip talk to Pastor Rockey or Kathy.





DID YOU KNOW THAT MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT ST. JOHN is available on our church website?  On our web page you can find sermons, newsletters, and these weekly devotions.  The link is:

In fact, IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE YOUR MONTHLY CHURCH NEWSLETTER BY E-MAIL please e-mail Judy Stahancyk and let her know.  You can call at 745-3338, or e-mail Judy at If you receive the newsletter by e-mail it saves printing, postage, and time compiling the newsletter.  Also, you receive the monthly newsletter more quickly!!








Monday, July 9, 2018

Thankful for Smiles and Teamwork

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


Well, I can report on another Alaskan Adventure.  A St. John team of 6 people conducted Vacation Bible School in the small village of Eek, a Yupik town of about 300 people along the Eek River, a tributary of the Kuskokwim.  St. John has helped lead Alaska Mission for Christ Vacation Bible Schools in past years in such places as Cordova and Sterling, Eagle and Delta, Northway and Kenai.  But this is the first St. John VBS in Southwest Alaska.


Two impressions stick out in my mind from this adventure: the smiles and the team work. 


The smiles are the easy part.  We count that about 70 children participated in VBS over the week, though there were seldom more than 40 children present at once.  We provided music and Bible lessons, crafts and snacks, and we led games.  Children would come and go throughout each session of VBS.  They especially participated in the crafts.  But, whether we were teaching lessons, or giving snacks, whether they were coming or going, the faces of the children lit up with smiles.  I’m not sure if it was just because of the setting and because they were children, or if the smiles on these children were especially beautiful.  But the smiles of these children touched my heart.


I have a hope that these smiles came from the love of God.  St. Paul wrote from prison, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say it, Rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4).  It is amazing that Paul could find joy in prison.  But, joy is different than happiness.  Happiness, which is pursued by Americans, is often based on the circumstances and experiences of life.  When life goes well we tend to be happy.  When life goes badly, we can become sad or depressed.  Yet, while in a Roman prison, Paul found joy!  If you read the verse above, Paul’s joy was not found in the circumstances of the moment.  Paul wasn’t happy about being in jail.  But the undeserved love of God in Jesus, His forgiveness and the eternal life which God gives through faith in Jesus as our Savior, this grace was the source of Paul’s joy.  Even when life is bad, God’s love is sure.  Even in prison, because of Jesus, Paul could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say it, Rejoice!” 


The children would often arrive at the church where we led VBS 45 minutes early and ask, “Is it VBS yet?”  My hope is that, as we taught the children about God’s creative, saving, and sustaining love, God’s love brought joy to their hearts and that is the joy we saw in their smiles.


But, teaching 70 children about God’s love takes the planned efforts of many people.  In our team, Sara and Marilee led music.  Marilee taught the lessons.  Temple did the crafts and Rod led games.  I helped with the lessons and dealt with the little crises that would arise.  And Gaelen was our evangelist. He went about town and made friends, and then he invited those friends to attend VBS.  We all worked together.


But, it took more than our St. John team to lead VBS. George Alexie was our local contact.  George is a Yupik man who is an active member in the local Moravian Church.  He arranged for our housing in the Ministry House of the congregation.   George got us into the church and showed us around.  George brought us water in trash cans for our dwelling, where there was no running water.  George also took out our trash, and . . . our honey buckets.  Thank you, George!


Cindy Cleveland was the local Eek church member who attended a meeting in Bethel last winter and asked for an AMC VBS team.  Cindy not only came to visit us in the Ministry House one evening, but she also hosted and entertained the ladies of our team in her home.  Cindy’s children also attended VBS.  Thank you Cindy!


There were also parents who helped us teach the children.  Trudi Joshua was present every day to help with all the chores, including directing children and cleaning up each day.  Gail and Edith and Theodora also helped direct children.  We wanted to bring joy to these tender hearts.  Having these ladies present, part of our team, helping to direct the children, made a big difference.


Then, there is the staff of Alaska Mission for Christ.  The AMC staff arranged for the VBS opportunities, provided manuals and information, dealt with the forms necessary in our current litigious world.  The AMC staff also prepared devotions which we used each day. 


Each of us, and many more, had a part in this effort.  But, according to Romans 12, that’s what happens in the lives of Jesus’ followers.  3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Romans 12:3-6)  The different parts of Christ’s body work together, as a team, to accomplish God’s purposes.


All of us worked as a team, as the body of Christ, to bring joy in the Lord Jesus to the children of Eek.  Hopefully the smiles of the children, worked by the joint efforts of so many people, were based on joy these children found in Jesus’ love.


A Child of God, Thankful for the Opportunity to Work as a Team and Bring the Joy of Jesus to Others,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Here are some pictures from the Eek VBS, summer 2018.  Look for the smiles. 





ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ -   I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have.  (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.





Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Trusting God When Facing the Unknown

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


As I write this devotion a team of St. John members is preparing to travel to the village of Eek.  We plan to lead Vacation Bible School on behalf of Alaska Mission for Christ for the children of this village.  Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this trip is how much we do not know.  Rod and Temple Christiansen, Sara Guhl and her grandson, Gaelen Swigart, Marilee Nufer and myself are traveling to Eek . . . but none of us have been there before.


So, on the flight to Bethel, and then to Eek, we will be facing the unknown.   On Monday night before we left my daughter, Mary, was explaining to me about traveling through the Bethel Airport.  Mary explained that after we arrive inBethel on Alaska Air, and transfer to Raven airlines for the flight to Eek, we will need to get our luggage and take a shuttle to the “Raven Airport.”  I just expected that the Bethel airport would be like others through which I’ve traveled.  It just shows what I don’t know.


We have talked to our local contact in Eek, George Alexi, to ask questions about what we might expect.  We asked George about how many children might attend.  George’s first estimate is 30-40 children.  However, we also talked to Paul Seidel from Saginaw, MI, who had led teams to Eek before.  Paul too says they started with about 30 children in attendance.  But, after a few years 90 children attended.  Of course, then George told me, “I don’t know.  For the last day of Sunday School we prepared 400 hot dogs.  They were all eaten!”  So how many children will attend?  We are prepared for 60.  Do we have too many supplies or too few?  We don’t know! 


We will be staying in the Ministry House next to the church.  We have been told there are 2 beds, and a kitchen in this house, but no running water.  George says there is a town well where we can get our water.  Paul says we should take filters, so we have done that.  But, we will find out the situation better when we get there.  In truth, we just don’t know.


I asked Paul, and I asked George, about fishing.  Paul said the only fishing was done with nets.  But George told me the different kind of fish they catch.  He told me to bring hiking boots, and that if I bring a fishing pole he’ll “have to go with me.”  Mary said that if I go fishing the children will follow.  I’m bringing a little equipment.  Will I really be able to fish?  Will I be able to build relationships through this recreational activity?  The truth is, I don’t know.


So, the six of us are going to Eek for the purpose of teaching children about Jesus, but not having been there, we don’t necessarily know what we will find.  We’re not sure how many will attend.  We are going trusting God will provide.


Have you ever faced life as a child of God not knowing what the future holds? Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 11:1.  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  We are UNCERTAIN of what we will experience and find.  But, what we trust is that God will provide.  With the presence and help of God we will have what we need to do His work.  We are not trusting ourselves, but we are trusting God and His eternal love.  We are UNCERTAIN of how many children will attend.  But we are certain that these children, as all children, need the savings love of Jesus.


Life is full of “unknowns.” In the midst of life’s uncertainty there is one thing certain, the love of God in Jesus Christ.  So, our team is facing the unknown as we travel to Eek, sure that the Lord who loves us eternally in Jesus will provide what we need to do His work.


A Child of God, Trusting God When Facing the Unknown,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Here are some pictures of a halibut fishing trip with friend, Pastor Tony Schultz.  We fished on Friday, June 29, out of Seward, AK.





ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ -   I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have.  (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.)  However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.