Shoal Creek and Truett McConnell on mission together


Members of Shoal Creek Baptist Church pray over the day's activities at the Laverne Griffin Recreational Camp, which is owned by the Alaska Baptist Convention. STACY DYER/Special

CLEVELANDShoal Creek Baptist Church and Truett McConnell University joined hands and hearts for a mission trip to Alaska. Their destination was the Laverne Griffin Youth Recreation Camp, a retreat center belonging to the Alaska Baptist Convention near Wasilla.

The camp is located on a 58-acre site bordering beautiful Lake Kalmbach with a rolling terrain, large spruce trees, and scenic view across the lake. The camp is so inviting that it attracts students from across Alaska.

Shoal Creek Pastor Stacy Dyer and TMU Director of Student Development Jonathan Morris took a mission team to the Lavern Griffin Camp to minister to the children gathered there. Dyer indicated that he, his wife Diane, and daughter Lindsey ministered at the Alaska camp last year.    

At left Randy Covington, executive director/treasurer of the Alaska Baptist Convention, stands with Stacy Dyer, pastor of Shoal Creek Church. STACY DYER/Special

This year he took 13 church members from Shoal Creek while Morris took 15 students and six faculty and staff from Truett McConnell. Dyer commented, “I am grateful for the wonderful partnership we are building with administration/faculty and students at the university.”

Students participating in the mission trip included those in Christian studies, business, education, biology, and psychology. The faculty included an English professor, biology professor, and student development staff.

Rooted in Christ

Morris stated, “At the camp we worked with girls in the first through the fifth grade. Some of them were active in church while others were only at the camp because someone paid for them to go. Some were from stable families and others in the foster care system.

Mission team members and children at the camp take part in one of the chapel services. STACY DYER/Special

“The theme of the camp was ‘Rooted in Christ.’ We spent the week sharing the Gospel and explaining what it means to be a Christian committed to growing in a relationship with the Lord. The women in our group were the counselors and lived with the girls Monday through Friday while the guys helped with the recreation, chapel, and attended to all the incidental things behind the scenes.”

Dyer added, “Our purpose was to serve the girls and the staff at the camp by providing food services and outdoor activities such as archery and air rifles.

“It was amazing to see the devotion and compassion of the Truett students. The depth of their faith and commitment gives me hope for the future of Christianity. I was also very thankful for the Shoal Creek family loving on the students from Truett as well as the girls who attended the camp.”

Jonathan Morris, director of Student Development at Truett McConnell University, stands for a moment beside a river with his daughter, Emily. JONATHAN MORRIS/Special

Morris exclaimed, “Several of our students had the opportunity to witness to some of the girls at the camp and two of them committed their lives to Christ. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“We had a fantastic week serving at LGYRC. It is a privilege to work with such a fantastic group of TMU students who are committed to sharing Christ in every context. We look forward to being back next year and hope to have a long-term partnership with the camp.”

Growing as a family

Dyer concluded, “We were there 12 days together as a church family and grew so close together. We did not have a harsh word or any relational difficulties. I didn’t even get mad at myself!

“We are looking at some ways to minister to the infrastructure needs at the camp as well as ways we can be even more effective in possible future work there.

“We took some time during our stay to do a glacier cruise and had some day excursions to see the beauty of Alaska. We had traveled a long way and rewarded the team’s work with some fun activities while we were there.”

The camaraderie established among the participants on a mission trip, passion ignited for ministry back home, and work and witnessing accomplished while on a mission for Christ make the experience worthwhile in a variety of ways. 

Alaska, Cleveland, foster, missions, Truett McConnell University