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In May of 1960, the Rabbit Creek fellowship was formed in response to the dream of several Methodist lay persons that a Methodist Church should be planted in South Anchorage. Meeting originally in the home of John Cox (St.John’s namesake), and later moving into the Hilltop Youth Quonset Hut, the fellowship grew. In October of 1961, the bishop of the region appointed the Rev. Richard Gay, who was the chaplain at Alaska Methodist University, to be the first pastor of the fellowship. One year later, on October 14, 1962, the fellowship was chartered as a Methodist Church with the name “The Church of the beloved Disciple.” A charter membership role was adopted and some of those persons are still actively involved here at Saint John UMC.
With the assistance of the Alaska Conference, eleven acres on O’Malley Road were purchased, the Quonset hut was moved to the site and construction began on the original building (which now serves as the church offices). The church has gone through a number of building projects and lots of pastors in the intervening years. We’ve survived earthquakes and fires, economic booms and busts, and the coming and going of a lot of good folks. Each year we’ve grown stronger and bigger.
In 1978, the New Horizons Preschool was launched. Previously the church had rented space to outside preschools, but New Horizons is a ministry of the church. As such it is one of our most successful and long-lasting ministries of presence in the South Anchorage community. A generation of children have learned about the love of God and their world in these hallowed halls!
By 1981, the congregation had grown to 276 members and construction on the sanctuary began. Within a year of opening the new sanctuary, membership had risen to 335 persons. A $5000 contribution was made to start a Korean Methodist congregation. It chartered in 1985 and continued to use our worship space for a number of years before relocating to their own building in Anchorage. What a joy it is when one church can give birth to another!
In 1987, we welcomed Rose McLean as a diaconal minister coordinating Christian education and other ministries. Rose retired in 2011 after 24 years of service to St. John and the community of Anchorage
During the 1990s a major construction project added parking lots and classrooms to our church plant. Some of these classrooms are now known as the Bayshore wing, after a nearby fellowship in the Bayshore region of Anchorage failed to grow to a critical mass. We joyfully welcomed the families who came at that time to become a part of the St. John congregation.
By 1995, membership had grown to 540 persons and the church’s mission statement, “to be a welcoming family joyfully sharing God’s light,” was adopted.
In the early 2000’s the congregation continued to grow in membership and reached over 800 persons. With this growth we expanded with the addition of the All Saints wing, and the Life Center which includes the new gym and kitchen. The Life Center has provided St. John the opportunity for our various ministries to grow and thrive and made it capable for us to partner with and host events for local non-profits around the community as support our own mission initiatives.
In October of 2018 as a church we reached a major milestone when we officially paid off our mortgage - a huge feeling of accomplishment for our leadership and all who call St. John home.
“I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together”