PUBLISHED: 5:02 PM on Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Church does not let lack of building stop in holding state-wide Lutheran conference

  Photo by Amanda Gragert Visitors to Juneau from across Alaska for the state synod region meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church get a tour of the Pioneers' Home while on a servant event.
Shepard of the Valley Lutheran Church is reaching out to the people through ministry - even without a church building to call home.

The church has been closed after a March 5 electrical fire, and have been holding services at Floyd Dryden Middle School. The church has been planning for about four years to hold the annual conference of the Alaska Synod Region 1 of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, said church secretary Laura Rorem. The meeting was held May 4-6 in Juneau. Unable to move back into the church at 4212 Mendenhall Loop Road, Faith Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod opened their doors for their conference.

"Our hope was that we'd get into our building for this by May 1, but that just didn't happen," Rorem said. "We've been intensely planning this for the past year, and we had to find a way to make it work."

Rorem said a challenge of the event is keeping communication running smoothly without the use of the church office. The church's office is currently at the Mendenhall Mall Annex, where the food pantry is open to the community.

"We're trying to keep the ministry going and try to carry on and be the church. We want to make sure the community's needs are still met," Rorem said.

About 150 people from across Alaska attended the event and went into the Juneau community Friday, May 5, for servant events such as making snacks at the Glory Hole, visiting with residents of Pioneer Home and working with children.

"The idea of these events is to come away with a feeling of compassion and understanding," Rorem said.

Linda Myers-Steele of Wasilla said she has gained new ideas to present to her congregation, such as making pillowcases for women's shelters.

"There is a lot of ministry going on in the whole state," Myers-Steele said.

"Faith Lutheran was very gracious to allow us to use their building. That's a big bridge between the synods. We're all walking under God's arms."