Small in Number, But Mighty in Serving
Life in Willow isn’t easy. Winters are long, cold and dark. Summers, with about 20 hours of daylight, are when much of the work has to get done. The town is about an hour and a half north of Anchorage and has a population of about 2,000 in the whole “metropolitan” area. Willow UMC hosts about 50 people on a “good Sunday” and about 35 or 40 on a regular one. They have one adult Sunday School class with about a dozen members. Husband and wife co-pastors Joe-d and Christina DowlingSoka arrived in Willow last July after 25 years of service in the Holston Annual Conference in Tennessee. Both said it was exciting to see the many ways Willow members joyfully serve the community.
Irish Pastor Helps Transform a Neighborhood and its People
An Irish pastor living in Chemnitz, Germany, the heart of the neo-Nazi movement, helps transform a neighborhood and its people. The story of Rev. Barry Sloan will challenge you and make you question everything your church is doing to engage your community. In 2018, the city of Chemnitz in Germany was the site of anti-immigrant and neo-Nazi demonstrations that resulted in violence. It was here that the Rev. Barry Sloan chose to start a new church or “fresh expression” called Inspire that would reach out to the city’s non-church-going community. Originally from Northern Ireland, Sloan draws from his own experiences growing up in a divided society to inform his outreach ministry in Chemnitz. Inspire brings together a diverse community of people who always felt like church was not for them.