The Alaska Project

WWU supports ministry in small Alaskan church community


A small group from Walla Walla University traveled to Nome, Alaska, to minister to the Nome Seventh-day Adventist Church by helping with their camp meeting children’s service. The group consisted of David Lopez, executive director of the CHE, and two WWU students: Hailey Bischoff, junior business major and CHE special events coordinator, and Katherine Alvarez, senior elementary education major. 

Lopez explained there is a great need for service within the North Pacific Union Conference, specifically in Alaska where issues such as isolation and depression are amplified because there are less people, harsher conditions, darker days, and greater physical distances between towns. These issues can cause particular challenges for their youth. 

“There is a need to inspire young people,” Lopez said. “There’s some sad situations when it comes to the children having little aspirations further than what they see. They don’t know how to get out of this cycle.” 

Chad Angasin, pastor of the Nome church as well as WWU alum and Alaskan native, explained due to the church’s small numbers and resources they are usually unable to have live music or a children’s service. Lopez, Bischoff, and Alvarez were able to provide these things as well as help with set up, tear down, and food preparation. 

During their time of service, Bischoff and Alvarez both felt very welcomed by the people of Nome. Alvarez said, “I deeply connected with the church members and found it difficult to say ‘goodbye,’ so, instead I said, ‘see you later.’”

Lopez hopes to continue this kind of ministry in other Alaskan churches that can benefit from WWU students’ skills. Angasin connected Lopez with the Nome community center director who wants WWU to do a full needs assessment of the community. Lopez said, “This is a place that is ready for the next step of a deeper relationship.” 

Lopez stressed that although we sometimes feel as if we need to get on a plane and go somewhere far away in order to have an impact, there are needs within our own church and our own conference and our own community. “Service can be all around us,” he said.  

Posted on April 12, 2022

Although there were only 10 to 12 young people at the camp meeting, Lopez explained that success in ministry should not be determined by numbers alone, but by the connections and impacts made.