Remote Alaskan church members appeal to state convention to keep doors open

Remote Alaskan church members appeal to state convention to keep doors open

When the pastor of Community Chapel in Cold Bay, Alaska, called Randy Covington, executive director of the Alaska Baptist Convention, to say he was moving, Covington knew he needed to visit this remote community and assist.

Cold Bay is an Alaskan bush town located approximately 800 air miles south-southwest of Anchorage near the end of the Alaska Peninsula where the Aleutian chain of islands begins its westward extension 1,200 miles toward Russia. Surrounded by the rugged and scenic Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Cold Bay is accessible only by air and sea. 

Community Chapel, the only church in Cold Bay, has been in existence since 1970. The church first met in a Quonset hut that once housed soldiers during World War II. Eventually the meeting place became unsafe and the congregation began meeting in the community library. Through the years Cold Bay’s population diminished from 256 in the 1970s to less than 50 in 2018. Today 15 or so worshippers meet weekly for worship and Sunday School. 

Covington said many questions came to mind as he considered the future of Community Chapel. 

“Do we need to recruit a pastor for such a small group? Should we close the church and reallocate the assets to another ministry site? … Hopefully, I thought, a visit would help me answer some of these questions,” Covington said.

‘Don’t abandon us’

Covington flew into Cold Bay, greeted by the pastor who also served as the flight agent and baggage handler for the small airline. 

Logic told Covington the little chapel there needed to be closed but his heart told him the few remaining residents in this declining town deserve the chance to hear the gospel.

Less than a month later two of the residents from Cold Bay’s town council were in Anchorage for a meeting. They called and asked Covington to meet them at a coffee shop. 

“I was stunned when they said, ‘We need a church in Cold Bay. Please don’t close this church. Please don’t abandon us!’

“Can we do anything less than vigorously pursue the lostness in our state, in our world,” Covington asked, “regardless of where they live or how insignificant their number is? Doesn’t every lost person deserve the right to hear the invitation of the loving Father? O Lord, may we never consider a person insignificant because of the size of their town or the hardness of their heart. Forgive us for abandoning those You love.” (BP)

How to pray

Pray Community Chapel in Cold Bay will be a gospel light to its small, remote Alaskan community. 

Pray we always remember the significance of every life and the importance of sharing the gospel with every person. (TAB)