What is going on here?
Lutheran volunteers helping at a pentecostal gathering.
A Lutheran Licensed Deacon providing worship for 16 years in an Episcopal Church Building to people that call themselves Episcopals.
Lutheran Vacation Bible Schools being run in Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Orthodox churches.
Alaska Mission for Christ does not do things the way they have always been done. The context of Alaska is different. Small communities do not want and cannot support several churches in a community. Often times communities identify with a certain denomination. This may or may not reflect the community's theological understanding. More often it is a reflection of the history of the village.
For example, Delta Christian Center, a pentecostal group, has been serving the people of Mentasta on and off for the last 10 or more years. The people in the village identify with that group, but are not opposed to others coming in and teaching the Gospel. One group of Lutheran volunteers, has connected with the Delta Christian Center and does a Vacation Bible School program with the children in the village the same week that the Delta Christian Center is doing a program for the adults. Do we agree with everything that Delta Christian Center teaches? No. Do they agree with everything that we teach? Probably not. Still, we all know that the people of Mentasta need Jesus. By coordinating with Delta Christian Center, we have a voice in the village and can share our Lutheran understanding of the Gospel.
In Tanacross, there is an Episcopal Church. It has been in the village for 100 years. (See below for the press release on the anniversary celebration.) For some years, the Episcopal church has not been able to have a regular worship leader for the community.
Enter Licensed Deacon, Bruce Grossmann. Bruce has been serving the community for the last 16 years with God's Word and Sacrament. Bruce is unashamedly Lutheran and leads Lutheran Worship. The building is still Epsicopal. Occasionally (every couple of years), the Epscopal Bishop visits the community and Bruce steps aside and lets him lead his own services for those who are interested. Still, for the last 16 years, the people of Tanacross have been under solid Lutheran preaching.
Many communities in Alaska have no Lutheran Church. We would never be able to plant a Lutheran Church in a village of 100 people that consider themselves Orthodox or Presbyterian without causing much division and wounding the cause of the Gospel. Planting a new church in a small community would not be an expression of love. Still, we believe that Jesus has called us to boldly proclaim Jesus in Law and Gospel. We do that by coordinating with our brothers and sisters in other denominations to run Vacation Bible Schools and Sports Camps. Humbly, we learn as we interact with Christians from differing faith backgrounds. Humbly, we also share our own convictions and understanding. In the end, Christ is proclaimed and the Gospel goes forward.