Visiting Churches: Chris Thompson (stainedglass) is an amateur Alaskan biblical scholar and student of religion, especially as it relates to popular culture. He regularly attends national and regional American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature events to interact with and learn from worldwide religion scholars. Through unannounced mystery visits to churches in Anchorage and South-Central Alaska, he observes how guests (visitors) are treated during this initial church visit. Research indicates guests first visit perceptions affects further spiritual growth and religious attitudes as they search for a church home. Chris' church visits focus primarily on Christian churches. This blog contains accounts of those visits, and related posts about religion in culture. Chris looks for the following in his visits:
•Genuine welcome, true Christian hospitality
•Friendliness and warmth
•Effective, well-delivered, Bible-based, main teaching
•Music deepening the worship, not just entertainment
Chris Thompson’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Significant 2013 Church Visits Posts
First Advent Visit - Our Lady of Guadalupe - 12/5/2013 10:33 pm
Advent Reflection - Edward Fudge - 12/1/2013 4:25 pm
Bean's Cafe - Helping in Love By Serving Thanksgiving Meals - 11/27/2013 11:32 pm
St. Mary’s Episcopal – Open Arms - Helping Hands - 11/27/2013 6:24 am
Thanksgiving Blessing Tomorrow – 11/25/13 - 11/24/2013 8:38 pm
Thanksgiving Sermons – Will Preachers Upset or Avoid? - 11/23/2013 5:26 pm
Grandview Baptist Church – Some Rough Moments - 11/23/2013 4:36 pm
Beer & Hymns for LSSA - Sunday@6:30 pm - 11/9/2013 8:02 am
Posted: December 5, 2013 - 10:33 pm
I enjoy visiting different Anchorage churches during Advent to experience individually different flavors of Advent Celebration. I chose Our Lady of Guadalupe for my visit last Sunday to experience their celebration at the 5:30 Mass. Sunday is a busy day with Masses at 9, 11:30, and 5:30. The church is large and the 5:30 mass attendees almost filled the church.
Posted: December 1, 2013 - 4:25 pm
Today, Sunday, December 1, 2013 marks the beginning of Advent. This Advent I've asked a cross-section of Anchorage pastors representing a variety of faith traditions to submit a brief Advent Reflection under this year's theme: "Does Celebrating Advent Really Make a Difference?"
Posted: November 27, 2013 - 11:32 pm
Thanksgiving Day, Bean's Cafe will continue to serve meals with love and warm attitudes to demonstrate to the less fortunate that they are loved by the Anchorage community.
Lisa Sauder, Bean's Executive Director offered some insight on the extent of their meal activities on Thanksgiving. They plan to serve approximately 1,200 meals. Because they are excellent financial stewards of community donations, and other financial resources, they are able to provide dinners where the average meal cost, for food alone, averages under $3.00.
Posted: November 27, 2013 - 6:24 am
Maybe it was the 1,000’s of jars of peanut butter lined up behind the altar at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church , destined for the less fortunate. It might have been the closing invocation in Inupiat, spoken by the aged native elder as she stood by Rector Michael Burke. Or it could have been the multitude of interactions between those two events last Sunday, November 24, the Last Sunday after Pentecost in liturgical time. But it all conspired to make it a meaningful Sunday service for me.
Posted: November 24, 2013 - 8:38 pm
I was unaware of Thanksgiving Blessing Project commencing tomorrow until I saw a flier in one of the schools where I substitute-teach. Doing a little checking I found out it’s a huge effort on the part of the Food Bank and a number of local organizations. The Food Bank was kind enough to answer some questions about this incredible community effort. Their response is printed below after the list of distribution sites and related zipcodes. From 3-8 p.m. tomorrow families can receive a turkey and all the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal by going to one of the seven (7) sites listed below.
Posted: November 23, 2013 - 5:26 pm
Thanksgiving sermons are interesting. The Sunday before Thanksgiving is an ideal time for preachers to remind parishioners about the dangers of Christians shopping on our national holiday, a day for family and friends to give thanks. Our consumer-driven economy is an antithesis to the vision Christ painted over 2,000 years ago. In that spirit, true Christians would not “shop ‘til they drop” at this time of year because “It’s not your birthday...” as Pastor Bob Mather noted in his Advent thought last year.
Posted: November 23, 2013 - 4:36 pm
I’ve often driven Debarr Road in the Airport Heights area but haven’t visited churches in that area as much as I’d like. On November 10 I decided to visit Grandview Baptist Church located just east of Alaska Regional Hospital. Grandview Baptist has been in my view and on my mind for years, so I thought it was time. Although I enjoy visiting churches to survey their guest friendliness, and to worship, a bit of trepidation also accompanies me as I enter each church door. This visit was no exception.
Posted: November 9, 2013 - 8:02 am
Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church (COSLC) Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church (COSLC) is hosting its 2nd Beer & Hymns session at Mo's O'Brady's, 1501 Huffman Rd., Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.
Posted: October 30, 2013 - 1:31 pm
My History With GLCC
More than ten years ago, long before I began blogging Church Visits for ADN, I was witnessed to by a college age member of Great Land Christian Church while on a Seattle-Anchorage flight. She was most enthusiastic about so many aspects of GLCC, that I decided to take up her offer to attend a Sunday service.
Posted: October 16, 2013 - 5:17 pm
The Anchorage Concert Chorus is performing J.S. Bach's St. John Passion this Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Atwood Concert Hall in Anchorage's Performing Arts Center (PAC).
Posted: October 14, 2013 - 9:49 pm
I have just been advised that Dr. Bass has had to cancel her presentations in Anchorage due to a death in the family.
Posted: October 14, 2013 - 7:59 am
Sunday, October 6 saw me wending my way north on the Old Glenn Highway in Chugiak. It was a beautiful day for a drive from my Turnagain neighborhood to the north. The object of my visit was The United Methodist Church of Chugiak . Unassuming from the highway, this church offers an attractive sanctuary with outstanding views of Mt. McKinley (weather permitting). The church is built on multiple levels with the sanctuary being on the top level.
Posted: October 4, 2013 - 4:34 pm
My mailbox recently disgorged a "Love Offering" appeal for funds (see below) for Dr. Jerry Prevo and his wife, Carol. Ostensibly, it was sent out by the deacons and assistant pastors of Anchorage Baptist Temple. Special emphasis was placed upon his 42 years of ministry here in Anchorage.
Posted: September 25, 2013 - 11:15 am
As long as I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve emphasized warm greetings, conveying a sense of hospitality, and friendliness and warmth as two of the four criteria I look for in my church visits. Greeting members and guests appropriately is one of the most critical things a church can do. It sets the tone for the time people spend at church. Unfortunately most Anchorage churches fail to understand the importance of training and maintaining effective greeters in their churches. A few churches have them and this blog post highlights one such extraordinary church greeter.
Posted: September 16, 2013 - 10:52 pm
One of Anchorage's consistent churches is Amazing Grace Lutheran at Elmore & O'Malley. They're consistently friendly, always have a great sermon, and provide a close personal experience with communion. I recommend them often and there is a reason. This is a tight-knit congregation that is willing to open up and let a guest in to be a recipient of their fellowship.
Posted: September 4, 2013 - 10:20 pm
It’s a Real Problem
In so many churches I visit, it’s obvious that church attendance is really suffering.
Posted: September 2, 2013 - 3:43 pm
My first visit to Rabbit Creek Community Church was on June 8, 2008. (Click here to read) After the passage of five years, I was curious to witness noticeable changes as my first visit had been mainly positive. I can’t believe five years had elapsed between then and my second visit a week ago on August 25, 2013. This also was a positive visit, but saw some notable changes from that first visit.
Posted: August 29, 2013 - 3:43 pm
An annual treat for religious scholars, laity, and others to study a religious topic of significance is coming! Sponsored by the Alaska United Methodist Conference, professors from Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology come to Alaska to teach several 11-hour classes. This year promises exciting study choices.
Posted: August 28, 2013 - 4:40 pm
Why do you write this blog?
I write this blog because many guests (visitors) to churches are not treated in a warm Christian manner as they visit churches new to them. I’ve observed this behavior, first-hand, over and over again in the past 20 years as I’ve visited new churches myself. It’s hard for churches to game corrections to this behavior. Each church appears to have its own DNA governing such behavior.
Posted: August 25, 2013 - 3:28 pm
3rd Visit - Long Way to Go
I've now visited Anchorage Grace three times over the past three years. You can access my previous two visit reports by clicking on the appropriate visit. FIRST VISIT or SECOND VISIT.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.