In Mountain View, a congregation gathers on almost every corner: There’s Bethel Chapel and New Hope Baptist Church on Price Street, the Anchorage Samoan Assembly of God, Sonrise Community Church and Anchorage Korean Church of Christ on North Bragaw and Wat Lao Temple on Schodde Street. On North Hoyt Street is Leake Temple AME Church. The Congregational Church of American Samoa in Alaska and Mountain View Community Church line Mountain View Drive and True North Church worships at Clark Middle School.
Then this spring, after a long season of planting, a new church bloomed in the heart of the neighborhood.
Mountain View Hope Covenant Church held its first service in March in the gym at Mountain View Elementary School, drawing a small crowd of congregants to hear a sermon delivered by Pastor Phil Cannon. The pastor — who lives in Mountain View with his wife and children and served for more than a decade at First Covenant Church downtown — felt called to be part of a congregation closer to home, he said. He sought a deeper connection with the neighborhood around him.
“God started to put it on my heart to be a part of a neighborhood church, a church that was so rooted in that place that if it were to disappear, it would be felt by the community,” Cannon said.
Planting the church was a thorough, thoughtful process, starting with a conference with the superintendent of the Alaska Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. When the time was right, Cannon completed an assessment process and gathered a church launch team; they talked about the kind of church they wanted to be, and the ways they wanted to serve the community. They met regularly for months, hosted neighborhood dinners and volunteered at neighborhood events.
Curtis Ivanoff, superintendent of the ECC Alaska Conference, said the ministry saw something special in this part of Anchorage. He felt a kinship with the community known as the most culturally diverse in the country.
“There’s a picture given in Revelations 7 where every nation, tribe and tongue is worshipping,” Ivanoff said. “There’s a draw for our church to reflect this neighborhood.”
Founded more than 125 years ago by a Swedish missionary in Unalakleet, the Alaska Conference of the Evangelical Christian Church now comprises nearly two dozen congregations across the state, mostly off the road system in
communities in Western Alaska. The mission of the church is shaped by a love of God and neighbor that crosses boundaries of culture and class.
“Our whole aim is to share the good news of Jesus,” Ivanoff said. “That doesn’t happen apart from relationships.”
Cannon hopes to build more of them in his own neighborhood, he said. As Mountain View Hope Covenant Church grows, it aims to work with other local churches and organizations for the continued good of the community, the
pastor said. He’s thought about areas ranging from affordable housing to food sustainability; ideas shaped by the church’s half-dozen foundational values:
We seek to FOLLOW the way of Jesus together.
We seek the good of the NEIGHBORHOOD.
We seek to LISTEN to the Holy Spirit and one another.
We seek to reflect the DIVERSITY of the kingdom of God.
We seek to COLLABORATE within our community.
We seek to WORSHIP in spirit and in truth.
“I’d like to see us know and be known — to know each other, and be known by each other, and learn to trust our neighbors more, and learn to care about our neighborhood together. I think we have a lot to learn from each other,” Cannon said. “There are people whose experience is completely different from mine, and I could learn a lot from them, and I think that’s part of the beauty of planting a church in a place like this.”
This story originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of Mountain View Post magazine.