Seminary additions constructed by Samaritan’s Purse have been completed and dedicated in Bethel, Alaska.
Equipped now with more classrooms and dormitory space, the Alaska Bible Seminary will be able to train additional men and women in God’s Word and send them out to reach more Alaskans for Jesus Christ.Over 225 Samaritan’s Purse volunteers from around the United States teamed with local residents and worked throughout this summer to construct the new dormitory and an administrative building that will house extra classrooms. Bethel is located on the tundra of southwestern Alaska, about 400 miles west of Anchorage.
“These projects were pretty much a dream, and Samaritan’s Purse helped us turn them into reality,” said Ed Dehnert, seminary president.
The two additions will enable the seminary to make a significant impact for the Kingdom of God in Alaska and beyond. A special dedication ceremony was held in Bethel on October 16.
Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham has demonstrated a heart for Alaska and equipping local residents to proclaim the Good News throughout the state, especially in hard-to-reach villages.
“Rural Alaska is dying. People are leaving. Suicide rates among Alaskan youth are among the highest in the country,” he explained. “I think seminaries like this—training pastors, locals, to go back into their communities, back into their villages—is the way to do it.”
A New Dorm, More Classrooms
Since the seminary is attracting more and more couples and women, the new dormitory provides additional housing for them. That frees up space in the current dormitory area to handle male students.
The new dormitory was dedicated in memory of Ruth Bell Graham, the late wife of evangelist Billy Graham. Even though Mrs. Graham died in June 2007, her dedication to studying and obeying God’s Word will reverberate nearly 5,000 miles away from where she lived in western North Carolina.
The dedication plaque included one of her often-attributed quotes: “Down through the years, I’ve turned to the Bible and found in it all I need.”
“Ruth Bell Graham has such a strong history with Bible education, and it seemed only appropriate that we dedicate this new dormitory in her memory,” President Dehnert said.
Before Samaritan’s Purse completed its construction work, the seminary only had one classroom and could accommodate only 12 students—and the facility was crowded at that. Now, with three new classrooms, its staff will be able to teach comfortably up to 50 students. And the new library area is five times larger.
The 8,000-square-foot, multipurpose administrative building can also support other administrative functions—including a kitchen, conference room, and provincial offices for the Alaska Moravian Church. It will also allow for future seminary growth.Luther Harrison, vice president of North American Ministries for Samaritan’s Purse, is encouraged by how the project will play a role in equipping leaders to win men and women to Christ in Alaska.
“We’ve built churches, youth centers, dining halls, Bible camps, and homes for people, but these projects have the potential of training future leaders in God’s Word and then sending them out to evangelize and to disciple,” he said. “It’s exciting that God allowed us to be a part of that.”