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

Last Thursday, I enjoyed a wonderful evening at Congregation Beth Sholom , where I joined in their celebration of Purim. During that time I consumed tasty pastries, listened to a dramatic story and drank in the ambience of a participative, family-centered celebration...

Chris Thompson

In my Feb. 21 column, I wrote about two churches using Anchorage School District middle schools as places to worship. This week’s column is devoted to two more churches doing the same. I’ve attended services at both and find their worship is not impeded by meeting in a school...

Chris Thompson

Since 2009, Stephen Smith of OpenBible.info has been tracking what Twitter users say they are giving up for Lent. It makes for interesting reading but also suggests that Lent "give-ups" are somewhat superficial...

Chris Thompson

During the past year, I’ve attended church services of five church plants here that hold services in public schools. I like the concept of church organizations renting school facilities for after-hours use. The Anchorage School District allows renting elementary, middle and high schools in a businesslike manner. Use charges offset costs of our public school facilities when not in use...

Chris Thompson

Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent, has traditionally been observed by mainline Protestant and Catholic churches. Other churches have now begun to observe this ancient practice. Many scholars and biblical historians trace Ash Wednesday and Lent to the 10th century. While it is not biblically designated, neither are Easter and Christmas, though most Christian traditions observe those holidays...

Chris Thompson

One of the key reasons people attend church is to receive pastoral words of biblical wisdom or instruction. In visiting area churches, I notice huge variations in sermon lengths. As I note sermon lengths from time to time, commenters on my observations sometimes take me to task for even mentioning the topic. However, I feel those who attend any church should understand what to expect in sermon lengths as well as in the length of the entire service. Often there are practical considerations driving these expectations; child care, social engagements, or work commitments...

Chris Thompson

National data indicate the average tenure of a pastor is between three and four years. Many pastors retire in their 60s and 70s. One local pastor clearly beats these norms. The Rev. Norman Elliott, who is still going strong, turns 96 on Monday...

Chris Thompson

Alaska’s Methodists, through Alaska United Methodist Conference, and United Methodist Women of Alaska (separate organizations), are tackling two major issues many area churches either fail to address or address inadequately.

Religion and spirituality in today’s world will be the topic of an upcoming conference as seen through the eyes of prominent theologian Diana Butler Bass. I’ve repeatedly addressed the growing "spiritual but not religious" attitude by many professing Christians...

Chris Thompson

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