In the 1980s, Chris Reinke, pastor of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Anchorage, planned a ministry to recruit and train lay leaders and pastors who would go into communities that are too small to support traditional churches and gather people around God's Word and Sacraments. Throughout Alaska there have been over 60 lay ministers who have been trained for Word and Sacrament ministry. Nine of these men have continued on to become ordained pastors.
In 1993 a four-wheel drive truck and fifth-wheel trailer were purchased through an LWML grant. Pastor Ken Schauer was called as the first circuit rider/missionary pastor. He and his wife, Sandi, ministered on the road system. Early in their ministry it became apparent that children’s ministry was a good in-road into a community.
In 1995, Sandi Schauer became the first Servant Events Coordinator. She was instrumental in organizing over 100 servant mission events including Vacation Bible Schools, Christian athletic camps, and hammer and nail projects. Ken and Sandi retired at the end of 2006. From 2006-2016, Ruth Zellar took on the responsibility of AMC Servant Events Coordinator assisting summer mission teams with service throughout Alaska. Brittany Baumgartner fulfilled this role after Ruth’s retirement until August, 2018, when Jan Bruick assumed these responsibilities. AMC values long term relationships and many of the teams that have served with AMC have served in the same community for 10 or more years with some serving over 20 years in the same community.
Ministry in Southwest Alaska:
In 1998, Corbie and Nancy Cross were called as full-time missionaries to southwest Alaska. During the summer of 1999, and for two consecutive summers, they lived on a houseboat on the Kuskokwim River. However, their village contacts moved quickly beyond the river, and the houseboat was no longer a useful tool in ministry. Corbie and Nancy continued ministry in the Southwest until 2009 when Corbie accepted a call to Star of the North Lutheran Church in Kenai, Alaska, as pastor. From 2010-2015, David Grosz took over the mission outreach to Southwest Alaska. David saw the need for reaching out to help with physical needs and disaster response in that region. AMC is looking for a fulltime Missionary to continue serving in this area of the state. For more information about this need visit: https://www.alaskamissionforchrist.org/current-needs/
Ministry on the Highway System:
Todd and Kim Roeske, former missionaries to the Philippines, arrived in 2006 and took over the ministry of the Copper River Basin, which included the mission church at Copper Center. The following year they were instrumental in the establishment of Mt. Drum Lutheran Church. In 2008, Todd assumed the duties for the Highway Ministry and for the lay ministry training. In 2010, Todd became the Coordinator of Ministries. He continues in that role to the present time.
In December 2014, Keith Aschenbeck was called to Denali Lutheran Church (LCMS) and began ministry in the Tanana River Valley. The mission involves several Athabaskan native villages including Mentasta, Tetlin, Tanacross, Northway and also the non-native population of Tok. These small communities are physically secluded from much of the world, isolated from regular Christian witness and pastoral care. Keith and, his wife, Stacey, brought a consistent presence through the light of Christ’s love, forgiveness, and hope to people surrounded by darkness. In June 2018, Keith accepted a Divine Call to serve a congregation in Texas.
Ministry in Southeast Alaska:
Aaron Spratt was called to serve the Lord as a missionary and pastor in Southeast Alaska in December 2017. In this role, he serves as the sole Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod missionary to the over 70,000 sq. mi of the rugged and isolated Southeast. Aaron coordinates and conducts Vacation Bible School, instruction, worship services, and training of elders. He shares the Good News of Jesus Christ in the hard to reach towns and villages that populate this remote area. As well as serving as missionary, Aaron has been called to serve as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Juneau, Alaska.