EastGate UPC, Anchorage, Alaska
EastSide UPC was established in Anchorage, Alaska in 1994. Meetings began in a mall storefront. In 1997, then pastor Brother Mike Fleming received permission from the district to purchase property. Then in 2004, property was again purchased with a seating capacity for up to 80.
In 2014, a new pastor was voted in, and that was myself, Brother Jon Springer. The transition from one pastor to another is seldom easy, and after the dust settled we were running about 25. I put all my heart into seeking the Lord, preaching the Word, and three years later we had outgrown our facilities with an average attendance of 70 and a high of 92 – with room for only 80 chairs. We needed a new building!
We were able to sell our property and come away with a good amount of money for a down payment. In Alaska, just the dirt is expensive, even if there’s no gold in it. The properties of appropriate size, with adequate parking and seating capacity, were consistently over $1 million. For months we were searching and there were no viable options. It was a Wednesday night, and the next Sunday was the last service we could have in the building as the new owner was moving in.
I had no idea where we were going, and the church was looking to me for answers. I put my head down and I prayed. I told the Lord that I had done all I could, and that He was the only one who could see us through; not me, not the banks, not the power of money, just God. It was as if that was what the Lord was waiting to hear, because literally as soon as I finished praying the phone rang. It was a realtor I had never spoken to, but he said, “I heard you are looking for some property for a church? I think I have something that will work.”
When we approached the banks in town for financing, as is the story heard over and over again, and why the UPC Loan Fund is much needed, we did not fit the framework to qualify for financing. The general story we received was that the bank needed to see 120 in attendance, 6 months operating expenses in savings, and a yearly income of so much versus expenses. Well, even I knew that regardless of what the numbers looked like, there was no way we were going to fit 120 people into 80 chairs. I needed to do something now, and I needed an answer. I remembered somebody had once mentioned the United Pentecostal Church Loan Fund to me.
I called, filled out the application and the ball was rolling. The process was much like applying at any other financial institution, but the true difference was, I felt like they wanted us to be able to purchase this property. They wanted us to receive the financing we desperately needed, and they were going to do everything in their power to help me with my mission to build this church. We were on the same team, striving for the same goal. There were obstacles in the way, but the staff was able to come up with a strategy and organize the numbers in such a way that both the seller and the lender were satisfied.
We now have 1.3 acres, plenty of room to grow, and a building we are still remodeling. But with each improvement, we are excited all over again for what the Lord is doing in our church. It felt like a new start so we gave the church a new name, EastGate UPC. In the photo below, this is half of the planned sanctuary size. As soon as we knock out the black draped wall, we will have seating for just over 200. Revival continues. Thank you, Jesus! And thank you UPC Loan Fund for your part in making it possible!