Partnering with Alabama Baptists “is making a big difference,” Randy Covington shared during the business session of the Alaska Baptist Resource Network (state convention) annual meeting held Sept. 26–28 in Juneau.
“We are one year into our official partnership and a lot of churches have been blessed by the partnership,” said Covington, ABRN executive director. “We are very excited about that.
“Also, Rick Lance (executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions) and Scotty Goldman (director of the SBOM office of global missions) are committed to this and are excited to see what God is going to do.”
Along with the official partnership, countless informal connections also exist between Alabama Baptists and Alaska Baptists.
For instance, Autauga, Elmore and Chilton associations are helping Liberty Baptist Church in Craig, Alaska.
Elmore director of missions Ray McKenzie and his wife, Sandra, decided to attend the annual meeting since they were planning to be in the state already. Neither of us knew the other would be there, so it was a fun surprise to run into them.
The same thing happened with Chuck Conley, pastor of Grant First Baptist Church.
He and volunteers from the church have been working on projects in Alaska this year, so he wanted to be present to support the work.
Alabama native and executive director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention Gary Hollingsworth came as part of the Carolina Cook Team, which prepared and served all the meals for those attending the annual meeting. He also delivered an inspirational message on “The Things” we face in life.
Gary and I discovered we had been on the same flight from Atlanta to Seattle as we boarded the plane in Seattle for the final leg of our journey.
Within an hour of landing Sept. 26, we were settled in at Glacier Valley Baptist Church in Juneau for the opening event — Impact Alaska, which focused on associational missions and church planting.
Impact Alaska is overseen by another Alabama native, Jae McKee, who serves as ABRN’s director of missions and church planting.
ABRN’s evangelism and church development director Jimmy Stewart also has strong ties to Alabama. His children serve here and are graduates of the University of Mobile.
In fact, the UM tie is how Stewart discovered Luke Jones, a worship leadership graduate from UM who is pastor of First Baptist Church Wasilla, Alaska.
Another former Alabama Baptist, Rendell Day, serves as pastor of Montana Creek Baptist Church in Talkeetna, Alaska. He previously served as a house parent with the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries.
Of course, Jamie Baldwin became the face of the Alabama-Alaska partnership, spending six months in Craig, Alaska, after retiring from the SBOM in early 2021.
Also, Ric Camp, associational mission strategist for Shelby Baptist Association, had been in Anchorage on a missions trip in recent weeks and reached out to several of us while we were in Juneau.
I could go on and on with the connections, and now that I’ve attended an annual meeting in Alaska, I’m blessed to have many more new friends. Everyone was so extremely warm and welcoming.
Along with new friends from University Baptist Church in Anchorage and New Birth Christian Church in Fairbanks, the administrative staff of ABRN — Sylvia Rylander, Heather Mount, Donna Fluery and Debra Long — already seem like family.
Robin Covington, Randy’s wife, and I also chatted about her visit to Birmingham a few years back and our mutual admiration for their son Adam’s photography skills.
Oh, and that Carolina Cook Team — I would follow them anywhere. They bring a jovial, sweet spirit with them and overflow with heartwarming stories about their ministry efforts.
The same is true for Alaska Baptists. Report after report showcased how God is working.
“God is at work and He’s working through our missions organizations … pastors, planters and members,” McKee said. “Faithfulness is multiplied and magnified when God shows up.”