Chris Thompson

Many opportunities exist in our community where churches and their individual members could have a more significant impact in improving our community. I detail six ways that can happen. A few churches have a track record in some of these areas, but many do not. My list of helping ways is not exhaustive, but illustrative of how much more good might be done...

Chris Thompson

If you’ve never attended the Alaska Greek Festival , this might be a great weekend to do so. This well-known festival is hosted by and held at Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church . An annual Anchorage tradition, this year’s festival will be the 21st celebration. Holy Transfiguration is located immediately on O’Malley Road, near its intersection with Lake Otis Parkway. Parking is available on the church grounds, or at Hanshew Middle School, a couple blocks north...

Chris Thompson

Last week I had the privilege of attending an Orthodox conference in Eagle River. One track dealt with theology, and the other track presented the development, history, and status of the Christian faith in the Middle East from the time of Christ forward. The Middle East presenter, the Rev. George Shaloub, pastor of The Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, Michigan , talked about the courage exhibited by Christians in Syria despite some of the most desperate conditions in the world. St....

Chris Thompson

All right, you’re new to our community -- a visitor, or a new part-time or full-time resident. It happens you also are looking for a faith community where you can develop, sustain, and practice your spirituality. You may be confused with the many communities of faith from which to choose. It’s no longer a given that the faith of your youth -- or previous place of residence -- will sustain you. The religious environment in our country is undergoing some of the most radical change in over a century. Take nothing for granted. Be thorough in checking out your new church home. How do you proceed? Here are some general suggestions, and five specific questions to ask any church you visit, culled from my 15 years of visiting local churches, and seven years of writing about those visits...

Chris Thompson

Over the course of the past year, I’ve written about the slipping status quo of biblical and religious literacy (see tinyurl.com/ozzurcw). Alaska’s remoteness, compared to the Lower 48 where opportunities abound to access Bible and religious education, contributes to this problem, especially for those past high school age. Two major religious communities in Alaska have aggressively been addressing these deficiencies with in-state training opportunities. This column highlights two upcoming programs...

Chris Thompson

Since Apple first released its game-changing iPhone in 2007, apps -- and smartphone apps in particular -- have changed the way we access the Internet and the way we use our smartphones.

I’ve written about apps in the past (you can find my previous coverage at ( tinyurl.com/nfch7xn ), but as different churches adopt the technology or adapt the ways in which they use it, the subject is worth revisiting...

Chris Thompson

It’s extremely unusual to read a headline like that these days.

Baptist church consultant Thom Rainer writes in “Breakout Churches” that the average tenure of pastors is 3.6 years. Church statistician George Barna offered a similar figure: “The average tenure of a pastor in Protestant churches has declined to just 4 years -- even though studies consistently show that pastors experience their most productive and influential ministry in years 5 through 14 of their pastorate.”...

Chris Thompson

Last Friday was an unusual day in the Anchorage Archdiocese. Catholics from all over Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and across the Pacific, converged on Our Lady of Guadalupe, the local co-cathedral, to celebrate Archbishop's Roger L. Schweitz's 75th birthday and his 25th anniversary of elevation to the episcopate. Eleven bishops, four archbishops, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo from the Philippines, and a representative from Schwietz’s order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, were present and participated in the celebration of the Mass. Former Archbishop Francis T. Hurley, Orthodox Bishop David Mahaffey of Sitka and Alaska, and numerous parish priests rounded out the group...

Chris Thompson

Growing up, I fondly remember attending vacation Bible school. I remember a positive experience with singing, crafts, exercise, and Bible stories, and retain memories of making bookends from quartz and plaster of Paris during crafts. Many local churches offer vacation Bible school experiences for kids today. In fact, in a 2013 report on vacation Bible schools, a Barna group study found more than 68 percent U.S. churches held them in 2012...

Chris Thompson

Since moving to Alaska 15 years ago, I’ve seen Anchorage’s faith community rapidly adopt digital media -- especially in the past five to seven years. Some churches have been slow adopters, a frustration to those who stay current with technology. Others have rushed headlong into digital media trying to adopt everything in sight with no clear strategy for doing so. A few churches have meaningfully adopted digital media, adeptly providing clear benefits to members and visitors. This column today explores the growing importance of one type of such media -- church websites -- locally...

Chris Thompson

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