Chris Thompson

If you are visiting Anchorage or moving here, we have many religious worship options. Muslims will find a mosque. Jews can find two synagogues, Reform and Lubavitcher, with Friday and Saturday services. The northernmost Hindu temple in the world is within five minutes of the airport terminal. All major religions in America are represented with convenient and often beautiful worship places, close to major hotels, many within walking distance. Three Orthodox groups in Alaska are very prominent in Anchorage. Formerly called Russian Orthodox -- now simply Orthodox -- one of our earliest religious groups arrived here 200 years ago. Its bishop lives in Anchorage. Several spectacular churches and a cathedral here are affiliated with them....

Chris Thompson

Recently, I attended a service at the Sri Ganesha Hindu temple in West Anchorage. I received a warmer welcome than in many Anchorage churches I’ve visited. The service was very interesting, giving me an insight into this major worldwide religious group...

Chris Thompson

What would this community be like if some churches were not growing vegetable gardens to benefit those less fortunate? It’s worth pondering. If you’re unaware of this growing movement in the faith community, please give it your consideration. Last year during one of my church visits, a man approached me to suggest I focus a column on this topic, and encourage the entire church community to participate. After digging into it, I’m convinced there are significant benefits for everyone doing so from the churches, gardeners, local charities and other recipients of fresh locally-grown produce...

Chris Thompson

Among my many local church visits, certain practices stand out, making some visits more memorable than others. As a result, I often make mental notes to revisit that church more often than others; positive practices are likely to remain in place, as are negative practices.

For example, after I’ve blogged about the unfriendliness of a particular church, I may receive comments or an email inviting me to do a return visit because they felt my experience was atypical of their church. Usually revisits reveal the same unfriendly practices were still present in those churches. Church pastors tell me it takes a long time to change church cultures.

Positive church practices make me smile as they often require minimal effort...

Chris Thompson

Last week my column discussed the 2015 State of the Bible study released by the Barna organization and the American Bible Society. When topics such as this are presented, inevitably atheists and denouncers come out challenging the Bible as a collection of myths and fairy tales. Unfortunately, these attempts are meant to cast doubt on the Bible and those who find value in it. Today’s column describes several methods scholars use to build confidence in the Bible...

Chris Thompson

Last week a study released by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, “ Is the Bible Available to All People? ,” revealed a huge misperception among Americans about the availability of the Bible in the world’s 6,900-plus languages. Almost three-fourths of Americans believe the Bible is available in all languages, but in fact, the report said, less than half of worldwide languages have complete translations of the Bible, or even a completed portion....

Chris Thompson

Last week was a perfect storm of faith community gatherings, celebrations and commemoration. I attended two Seders -- Protestant and Jewish -- and an Easter service. The previous Sunday, I attended a Ganesh Puja at the Sri Ganesha Temple of Alaska, the northernmost Hindu temple in the world. I hope to write about that in a future column, but suffice to say, I enjoy meeting people of faith wherever they gather. Expressions of deep faith, regardless of my personal beliefs and no matter where I find them, are wonderful to see and experience, expanding my knowledge of our community’s customs...

Chris Thompson

By the time most read this, Lent will be over, capping a period of self-examination, possibly prayer and fasting, and maybe taking up something new or giving up something truly harmful. This weekend Western Christianity celebrates Easter, while Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter (Pascha) a bit later due to differences between Julian and Gregorian calendars...

Chris Thompson

A recent article in Relevant Magazine caught my eye and brought me up short, as I’d been guilty of the same things over the years. Titled “ 5 Things You Shouldn't Say to Your Pastor ... and what you should say instead ,” the article by Aaron Loy contained wonderful advice about the things we innocently say to pastors and what it reveals about us.

The five things were “good sermon,” “we’re church-shopping,” “you know what you should do?”, “we just don’t feel connected” and “I’m not being fed.” In response to the article, I asked a few Anchorage pastors how they respond -- or would respond -- to these statements. Their answers clearly indicate they deal with them on a regular basis...

Chris Thompson

I first met Archbishop Francis T. Hurley at the installation of Lutheran Bishop Shelley Wickstrom. Surprised to see him there in a Protestant church along with many other clergy, I introduced myself to him as ADN’s community church blogger and asked if we might meet. When we met at his residence he was cordial and conversational with me, a non-Catholic. I’d researched the proper terms with which to address him -- finding “your excellency,” “monsignor,” “your grace” and “the most reverend.” Asking Archbishop Hurley which term would be appropriate, he said, “Just call me Father.” Recently, I arranged another interview on his completion of 45 years as bishop in Alaska this week. That interview further enlightened me about significant events occurring during his career in Alaska...

Chris Thompson

Pages