Blaze Erupts in Sanctuary Mortgage Goes up in Smoke

A fire which broke out in the sanctuary of the Wasilla Church on May 21, 2005, totally destroyed the paid mortgage held by Alaska Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ken Crawford, Alaska Conference president, and Jean Poole, charter member and church treasurer, lit the match, but many others were responsible for starting the blaze.

The first spark occurred 16 years earlier, on May 30, 1989, when the overcrowded Palmer congregation called a business meeting, and the decision was made to begin a new church across the Mat-Su Valley, in Wasilla. A planning session was held at the Wilson’s house, and Donovan Kack, Palmer pastor, found a church to rent for $25 a week. Services began in December 1990.

November 1993, the Lucile Street property was purchased, and Mark Carr, Palmer/Wasilla pastor, began clearing trees for construction. You might say he started splitting the kindling. Volunteers from near and far fanned the spark. Bob Teeling volunteered his D8 bulldozer.

June 1995, a father and son team laid footers, followed by a team of 48 Maranatha volunteers. Then a couple of adults with 12 to 15 teenagers came to help. Two more couples installed steps and soffits. Joe and Ann Heck from Sunshine showed the members how to make pews from their own birch trees. Joe donated the remaining wood when Wasilla ran out.

The first service in the new building was held in the fellowship hall Dec. 23, 1995. By January 1997, the sanctuary was ready for occupancy, and in December that year the first baptism took place. By 1999, the parking lot was installed, and in 2001, landscaping and paving were added. From the first worship service attended by 18 men, women and children in 1990, attendance has grown to an average of 65 to 75 with a peak week of 85.

Yes, Jean Poole may have lit the match that day, but she had a lot of help fanning the blaze.

August 01, 2005 / Alaska Conference