Craig Adventist Church Practices Friendship Evangelism

Friendship evangelism is alive and well in Craig, a small community on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. Thursday is a special day there. It's the day that the local Adventist church provides free lunch for the community.

All are welcome to come, eat and catch up with each other. It’s a time to fellowship. Some weeks, only a few folks show up, while other weeks the fellowship hall is full. Either way, everyone on Prince of Wales Island knows that the Adventist church is a place where all are welcome. When people come in with questions about the Bible, follow-up studies are arranged.

Aside from an 18-month period when it was suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ministry has been active for about 20 years. But, even during the pandemic, the church continued to provide meals through a sack lunch “grab and go” program.

The program all started with member Debbie Vaughn’s weekly grocery trip to town. She invited friends to meet up with her at the church to share lunch. They then began to stay, spending the afternoon together working on sewing and handwork projects while enjoying each other’s company.

Friends started inviting other friends and eventually they opened their fellowship time to the entire community. Vaughn’s son, Dwaine, grew up looking forward to the weekly event and now he takes an active role in preparing the meal and giving follow-up Bible studies.

Marsha Johansen currently leads out in preparing the meal, with other members pitching in by providing soup, making sandwiches or helping with cleanup. Johansen is excited about the program because several people come for lunch and then begin to regularly attend church.

James Jespersen has been attending the lunches for three and a half years. He began attending the lunches as soon as he arrived in Craig. He said it is a blessing to have the ministry back after the COVID shut-down and hopes it never closes again.

Elizabeth Bovee shared, “It’s a great opportunity to welcome the community in a friendly, welcoming way. Making connections and welcoming people gives us the opportunity to invite people to our church services.”

Christine Noel and her husband, Bill Burke, arrived in Craig in 2017. They love the fellowship. Noel said, “The church has become quite the spiritual family for me. I’m incredibly grateful for this wonderful little church and its outreach.”

Featured in: May/June 2023