Skip to main content

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...
  • Sitting in the triangle room in youth group with Rose and great friends
  • Working on the fall auction each year - we all wanted to be Vanna White and parade around
  • Seeing the new gym & classrooms being built
  • Singing with Randy McCurdy and youth group in the sanctuary
  • Having 30 youth in our teen Sunday School class in the orange room with Von & Ruth
  • Coming to church after several proms with my hair still done up
  • Meeting Alisha - we were inseparable - I miss her so much
  • Dancing with my sister on Father's Day one year
  • Playing piano in the sanctuary when no one was around
  • Movie nights with friends
  • Monday lunches with the staff before staff meeting
  • Proms with my youth group friends
  • Preaching
  • Saturday night service becoming the Sunday night service
  • Youth Sundays - preaching, skits, music
  • Taking people home from movie nights
  • Dad doing sermon in a sack with the kids in the summer
  • Mission trips to Homer and Fairbanks
  • Shaking Bob Smay's hand every weekend
  • Sitting with mom in worship - I learned so much about faith by watching her worship God
  • 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
  • Camp at Birchwood - I will never fully appreciate how much I grew in my faith at this place
  • Anchorage College Ministry - retreats, friends, discussions, trips
  • Talking with Dad in his office
  • Staff birthday lunches
  • Flying up for Mom's surprise 50th birthday party
  • Working at St. John during summers in college - piano, communications, youth
  • Girls of God nights :)
  • My fiance proposing to me in the sanctuary!!
  • Preaching with Dad
  • Singing/playing On Eagle's Wing at the end of every service
  • 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. :)


Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…