my dad’s last sunday

Today is my dad’s last Sunday serving as senior pastor at St. John UMC in Anchorage, Alaska. On Monday, he becomes the superintendent for the Alaska Conference.


Our family packed up our things in Soldotna, Alaska in the summer of 1999. We walked around the house, sharing memories from our 8 years there. I remember Ryan was the most upset about leaving. He refused to get in the car.

We made the 3 hour drive north to Anchorage and 9051 Cathedral Place. I remember Alisha, Aubree and Jake showing up to help us unpack.

And 10 years later as we close this chapter, I remember…


  1. Sitting in the triangle room in youth group with Rose and great friends

  2. Working on the fall auction each year – we all wanted to be Vanna White and parade around

  3. Seeing the new gym & classrooms being built

  4. Singing with Randy McCurdy and youth group in the sanctuary

  5. Having 30 youth in our teen Sunday School class in the orange room with Von & Ruth

  6. Coming to church after several proms with my hair still done up

  7. Meeting Alisha – we were inseparable – I miss her so much

  8. Dancing with my sister on Father’s Day one year

  9. Playing piano in the sanctuary when no one was around

  10. Movie nights with friends

  11. Monday lunches with the staff before staff meeting

  12. Proms with my youth group friends

  13. Preaching

  14. Saturday night service becoming the Sunday night service

  15. Youth Sundays – preaching, skits, music

  16. Taking people home from movie nights

  17. Dad doing sermon in a sack with the kids in the summer

  18. Mission trips to Homer and Fairbanks

  19. Shaking Bob Smay’s hand every weekend

  20. Sitting with mom in worship – I learned so much about faith by watching her worship God

  21. All the liturgical dances we did – some of my favorite moments in the sanctuary were all of us laying down, cranking the song way up, closing our eyes, and thinking of choreography

  22. Camp at Birchwood – I will never fully appreciate how much I grew in my faith at this place

  23. Anchorage College Ministry – retreats, friends, discussions, trips

  24. Talking with Dad in his office

  25. Staff birthday lunches

  26. Flying up for Mom’s surprise 50th birthday party

  27. Working at St. John during summers in college – piano, communications, youth

  28. Girls of God nights 🙂

  29. My fiance proposing to me in the sanctuary!!

  30. Preaching with Dad

  31. Singing/playing On Eagle’s Wing at the end of every service

  32. The wonderful people who continue to make St. John the most welcoming church I’ve ever experienced

I’m sad I can’t be present today for the celebration. But I’m there in spirit. St. John is the place I felt a call into ministry. The place where it was nurtured. Such great people!

My family by the St. John rock 🙂

Girls of God night at St. John



6 of my favorite St. John girls 🙂

I always wanted to be married in this sanctuary. We ended up having the wedding in Florida. But 6 months later, we had a reception at St. John.

My bridal shower with the ladies 🙂

Alisha, David, Aaron and me after the guys led evening worship. 🙂

#stjohnumc

 

 

© 2020 by Jenny Smith

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