Today, our second Sunday in Alaska, we visited Pioneer Baptist Church and we loved it.
PBC is a small church and just five years old. It ministers to the nearby communities of Eielson, Salcha, Moose Creek, and North Pole. The majority of the members seem to be military.
If I'm not mistaken, the building you see here in the photos has been built solely by church members and helpers. The services are currenly being held in the basement while the sanctuary is being completed. Physically, the atmosphere inside the building was very comfortable.
Of course the building doesn't make the church, the people do, and the people we met were very warm and seemed genuinely happy to meet and visit with us. Unlike the church we were last members of, where people had been members for a lot of years and were polite, but guarded toward newcomers, we found the folks at PBC to be welcoming, warm, and open, and I think it's mostly due to the fact that this is a military community and newcomers are expected regularly.
The worship times are different, but after experiencing the routine today, I can see the the benefit of the Sunday schedule. Sunday school is at 10:00, the first service from 11:00 - 12:10, a snack/coffee break from 12:10 - 12:30, then a second service afterward. I wasn't keeping track of the time, but I think the second service ended around 2 p.m. Having the Lord's day set up this way gives the congregation plenty of time to fellowship and there is no need for another trip out to the church in the evening, which is a big deal here during the long, cold, dark winter months. I wasn't sure I would like it, but I did very much.
The service is simple; we sang from hymnals accompanied by a pianist, and there was no sense of being entertained as is so common now in American churches. The service was all about worship of our LORD and the teaching of His word.
I am sure we will return to worship at Pioneer Baptist in the future.