“When Your Doors Are Like Hatches” — Unalaska UMC

The front of Unalaska UMC. This church serves as a vital lifeline to the community over 800 miles away from the mainland.

Submitted by Pastor Matt Reinders, Unalaska United Methodist Church 


Fishing boats have holds. After they pull nets or long lines or pots from the Bering Sea onto the deck and sort the catch, the abundant resources of the sea fall through a hatch into the hold. The front doors of the Unalaska United Methodist Church are like a hatch to a hold. Nearly everyday, as people transition off the island, household goods, clothes, beds and cribs, appliances and furniture make their way to the arctic entry of the church. Volunteers sort and organize the materials and store them in sections of the church like reuse/recycle holds. 

People transition onto the island nearly everyday, too. Oftentimes they move with only the most essential of items, such as a week’s worth of clothes, lawn furniture, a pot and a pan, and sleeping bags. I know because that is what my family and I did! The good news is that Unalaska United Methodist Church has holds full of stuff to help set up a home. 

Most Alaskans are comfortable living in The Last Frontier. Less may be comfortable in remote communities. Travel delays, isolation, phone and internet services frequently disrupted, all push people to the limits of coping at some point. 

The front doors of Unalaska UMC serve the community as a holding place for items and resources for households in the community.

Some Unalaskans have begun to describe the community as “resource insecure” to help communicate the ebb and flow between resource abundance and bust. Logistics count for a lot, and mistakes or accidents can cost a high price. Unalaska is an 800 plus mile flight to the nearest hospital, discount wholesale store, or fast food restaurant. Many folks get off the island only once each year. Communities of faith like the Unalaska United Methodist Church can make all the difference to someone who feels isolated, misunderstood or misplaced. It is a community that fully understands and stays prepared to assist in anyway we can. 

Unalaska is a generous community where God works through us to engage in service with others. Through this service, God’s grace and peace become the living word for a stressed out world. We keep our holds ready for all kinds of people with many kinds of needs. In the meantime, our hatches are open.

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