Pastors serving in remote places such as bush Alaska rarely have support staff to fill in for them when they are away. When family needs or medical emergencies surface, they either try to find a qualified replacement, or they close up church until their return. Fortunately, several ABM staff have the training and skills necessary for preaching in a cross- cultural setting and are privileged to assist pastors through the ministry of pulpit supply.
Last spring two long-time, adventure-loving ABM staffers, Vince and Marylil Spady, traveled by air to Dutch Harbor and then boarded a freighter for a 5 1/2 hour ride across the Bering Sea to island of Akutan. Vince was asked to fill the pulpit for several weeks at Akutan’s only church, Safe Harbor Church, built as a gift to the community by Trident Seafoods CEO, Chuck Bundrant.
Akutan is like no other village in Alaska. It sits along the Aleutian chain and hosts Trident Seafoods Corporation, one of the world’s largest seafood processing plants. East of the church is a Native village of 90 Aleut people, and west of the church is the Trident Seafood plant with 300 full-time to 1,300 seasonal workers from 37 countries…making this a very unique and multicultural community.
Vince and Marylil’s trip was sweet; they spent time developing relationships, caring for those in the community and sharing God’s Word from the pulpit or over coffee. Here’s what Marylil had to say about their time of ministry and pulpit supply:
“This was our 8th year going for 1 to 3 months to either fill in between pastors or to give them a vacation….It is always special to reconnect with old friends, to continue building relationships and to make new friends while encouraging spiritual growth for all of them. Vince enjoys the various people who often come to visit for encouragement and counseling. I was blessed to experience the people’s joy over having the church open for worship, Bible study and fellowship, as well as having the gym open every day for lots of interaction between village and plant people. It’s truly a place where the East meets the West! We also have a special connection with Beatrice Jackson from Liberia. She has been a most faithful member of the church since its beginning 18 years ago and comes to visit every day after working 12- to 14-hour shifts in the laundry where more than 1300 loads of laundry are washed and beautifully folded every week! We celebrated her birthday as well as her 26th anniversary working with Trident. We endeavor to keep a close relationship with this dear saint year round as she dearly misses having a pastor and his wife there. Please pray for Bea.”
The heartache is always in saying “goodbye” and having to shut the doors of the church until the next visit or until God provides a long-term pastor. Safe Harbor Church has been without a resident pastor for more than a year now. The community greatly misses the leadership and ministry of a full-time pastor and his family.
Please pray along with us for a pastor to come to Akutan very soon. Until then, pray for ABM staff and other missionaries who answer the call to provide pulpit supply in Akutan and other villages that are waiting for full-time pastors.
Thank you to all of our ministry partners and friends who generously give so that ABM staff can provide pulpit supply around the Arctic.
-ABM Resource Development Team