The Biggest Little Sabbath School Class in North America
"Just last Sabbath, a member of my Sabbath School class asked another, 'You live about a mile east of the center of the runway in Galena, Alaska, don't you?' When the second member responded 'Yes!' the first member said, 'Then that means you live almost exactly 3,608 miles from me.'" Thearon Staddon, certified public accountant, tells this anecdote with a chuckle, and then follows with a question: "So, you tell me — isn't ours likely the biggest little Sabbath School class in North America?"
The class, which can be as few as four or as many as a dozen, is the Alaska Isolated Adventist Sabbath School Class which meets by tele-conference every Sabbath morning at 9:30 a.m. Alaska time.
In the mid 1980s, Staddon, also an Alaskan pastor, spent three years in Nome, Alaska. He and his wife Sharon, are back in Alaska for their "second tour." Sharon is the Alaska Conference treasurer. Their hearts go out to folks who don't live close enough to an Adventist church to enjoy the fellowship of regular Sabbath worship. They know the meaning of the word "isolation."
As a result, late last summer Staddon arranged with a tele-communication provider for weekly conferences. Besides bolstering one another spiritually, the group has a great time in Bible study.
On the first Sabbath of the new year, they even celebrated communion together. Staddon e-mailed members ideas to think and talk about in the foot washing and then shared with them a micro-batch dough recipe, which makes two pieces of communion bread.
"We took the opportunity for foot washing and then joined each other by telephone to partake of the symbols of our Lord, eating bread and drinking of the cup as a group of worshippers," says Staddon.
We've had Sabbath School members participate from as far as Bristol Bay, Alaska, from along the Yukon River, from Southeast Alaska, from the deep Interior, and from outside Alaska. Participants consider the Alaska Isolated Adventist Sabbath School Class their "church family."