No. We have a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds.But our love for Jesus and respect of the Scriptures is Lutheran enough for all of us.
What is the current demographic in the community?
We are a community of around 80 people, and worship averages 35. There are married couples, young families, Baby Boomers and a few folks in their 70s. Actually, we’re a pretty good example of the surrounding community that we serve.
What are your Sunday services like?
Most often we follow the ancient liturgy of the church (responsive litanies, readings from scripture, children’s chat, sermon, prayers of the people, Eucharist, benediction, etc.) We also sing the old hymns of the church. So there's lots of ancient tradition at River of Life, but there's also some innovation. We try to include some of the recent Christian hymns and music, and occasionally, we celebrate a “café-style worship” service … sitting at tables, using a mix of activities designed to actively engage us with the Gospel.We might use play dough, bubbles, prayer chains, writing … it varies.
We do not so much strive for perfection, as we do participation, meaning that many parts of the worship are led by the people who show up. The pastor officiates the Eucharistic prayer and (most times) the sermon; all the other parts of the liturgy are led by worship assistants.
Who is your pastor at River of Life?
His name is Bill Ottum. He was ordained in the ELCA and has served as Pastor in California, as well as Anchorage.He began serving as interim Pastor at River of Life in 2011, and was called as part-time Pastor in 2014.
What is the space like where you meet?
We are currently meeting at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 18444 Old Glenn Hwy, Chugiak, Alaska. (The building which burned down on September 15, 2020 was built in 2005, and we are planning to rebuild in the near future. It will be a friendly, welcoming space, with hardwood floors and best of all: comfortable chairs, no pews! That means the space could often be used for other events, like our fall Craft Bazaar and Tri-Tip Barbeque.Yes … we love to fellowship and eat!)
Are there children at River of Life?
Yes! We like for kids to be actively involved in our worship life as full participants.We have a nursery available for parents to take their children. During the School year adult volunteers lead a “Children’s Church” in our Fellowship Hall.Children leave worship after the “Children’s Chat” and come back for Holy Communion.
What are this community's practices around the Eucharist?
We have an Open Table at River of Life, which means that everyone without exception is invited to receive the bread and wine or grape juice at communion, which for us is the body and blood of Christ. This is His table.