Recently, Acts 29 US West welcomed the churches of Alaska back into our network after they spent some time in the Emerging Regions network. We hope you’ll be as encouraged as we’ve been reading the following updates about the five network churches in Alaska.
Radiant Church Juneau is located in the capital city of Alaska. Juneau experiences a high turnover rate, and residents often idolize the “created” instead of the Creator: eagles, bears, lakes, rugged terrain, etc. This shows as people are “spiritual” but lack any desire to attend church. Even Christians feel the pull of summer recreational activities evidenced in low church attendance each summer. Mike Rydman pastors Radiant Juneau. He and his wife, Deb, are well suited to reach the area’s liberal culture, in part because of their previous experience planting in Seattle, and in part because of how actively involved they are in the local community. Mike serves as a chaplain in the Alaska state Senate and works as a substitute teacher. Deb works as a Career Counselor at the University of Alaska. They have also both worked at the local Visitor’s Center, and they chaperone the local high school’s prom each year.
Despite the local obstacles, Radiant Juneau is thriving and reaching the local culture. They are one of the largest churches in Juneau with much favor among the culture. They are seeing many baptisms, increased number of volunteers, stable tithes and offerings, and are a community that cares well for one another.
Radiant Church Mat-Su Valley is one of our 2018 funded church plants, led by Caleb Richardson. Caleb and his family just moved from Fairbanks to the Mat-Su Valley for the purpose of planting this new church in this fast-growing area of Alaska. Caleb is currently working to build a core team, find team members like a worship director, and he and his family are building relationships in the community. At a recent happy hour event that Caleb and his wife Tracy hosted in their home, they welcomed eight couples including five non-believing/non-religious couples and 2 Mormon couples (they live just around the corner from a Mormon ward). Please pray for Caleb, Tracy, and their two boys as they root themselves in this new community, and work to find core team members for this new church. The size and geography of Alaska can lead to isolation in ministry, and the area is very expensive which can be hard for church plants.
Previously led by Caleb Richardson, Radiant Church Fairbanks is now led by Loren Morral, as well as two other elders. Though it can be overwhelming to take on an established church in this way, Loren is a humble shepherd that is an effective equipping teacher. He is a strategic leader fit to lead Radiant Fairbanks through a season of maturing. Pray for these young leaders of Radiant Fairbanks. They know they are the “men for this season,” and yet still feel overwhelmed at times by the task ahead of them. May the Lord use these men and their families to glorify himself!
Radiant Church Anchorage is led by James Marchetti. The Lord brought James out of a troubled past, through a successful construction business, and then on into ministry where he is passionate about reaching Anchorage with the Gospel. The Lord has blessed Radiant Anchorage with the gift of a church building from the Conservative Baptists, providing them an excellent location from which to reach their community. James and his wife, Christina, have 8 children (2 biological and 6 adopted). Please pray for James and his family. The work of planting a church and caring well for a family of this size can be tiring, and yet the joy, peace, and presence of the Lord that can be felt when spending time with their family is palpable and overwhelming.
Kaleo Church, also in Anchorage, is led by Chris Cha. Kaleo Church is a mid-sized, diverse, educated, gracious church in the most urban setting of Alaska. They are blessed by an outstanding facility that is owned and run as a Christian Community Center. Their church is deeply invested in caring for orphans through foster care and adoption, with 4 of their elder families having fostered or adopted children as an example. They are also looking to plant another church soon.
The sweeping geography and vast size of Alaska is unlike any other state in Acts 29 US West. It is obvious that these churches in Alaska have a unique set of circumstances that are unmatched in expense, isolation, weather obstacles and turnover rate. It is hard living for the majority of the year, and at the same time these pastors and leaders are proud of their home. Let’s be sure to pray for their families and ministries!