Dr. Jerry Prevo retires after 47 years - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Dr. Jerry Prevo retires after 47 years

WHAT A SENDOFF, ATTENDED BY THOUSANDS

At a packed Sunday morning service, the Anchorage Baptist Temple faithful — and several hundred more — gave Dr. Jerry Prevo the send off into retirement that reflected his impact on the community. It was emotional, and as poignant as a church service will ever be. Those who attend the church love and admire Prevo and his wife Carol.

Thousands jammed into the service and at the celebration luncheon that followed in the two Anchorage Christian School gymnasia.

If Sunday morning has been sometimes called the “most segregated hour of the week,” that’s not how Anchorage Baptist Temple rolls. People from all backgrounds came to congratulate and celebrate Prevo’s 47 years at what locals call “ABT.”

A video was shown of Prevo’s ministry, and Gov. Michael Dunleavy and Sen. President Cathy Giessel gave remarks. Don Young, in a very emotional moment, said it was Prevo who led him to Christ, and gave Prevo his bolo tie.

In large gym, gone were the basketball hoops and scoreboards. The room was transformed into a celebratory, twinkly-lit dining hall, where several hundred people of all colors and backgrounds broke bread together and took pictures with their pastor of so many years. It was a reflection of how Prevo’s leadership helped grow a diverse reflection of God’s love and the welcoming spirit of Anchorage’s Christian community.

The event even drew Dr. Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, from North Carolina, Congressman Don (and Ann) Young, Gov. Michael (and First Lady Rose) Dunleavy, as well as legislators, including Sen. President Cathy Giessel, House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, and former Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch. Even former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and former Gov. Sarah Palin were in attendance. Sen. Dan Sullivan sent a video greeting, which was played on the big screens.

Prevo was a pastor at Pincecrest Baptist Church in Signal Mountain, Tenn., when he heard the call to Alaska in 1971. He packed a minivan and along with his wife Carol and son Alan, he drove north to help a fledgling mission that would grow into one of America’s mega-churches, one that has had a major influence in the development of Alaska’s political and cultural life.

The church grew. Attendance doubled, tripled, and now is in the thousands. Candidate Sunday is a “must do” for aspiring political leaders in Southcentral Alaska. There’s now a thriving Christian K-12 school attached to the church — Anchorage Christian School — with nearly 600 students. The church and its ministries employ over 100 people, and many more as volunteers.

As he and his wife Carol grew the church, Prevo never shied away from topics that some find controversial: the sins of homosexuality and abortion come to mind. Liberals sometimes picketed the church, and many letters to the editor criticized his brand of Christian theology. Others defended him. But he never wavered on moral issues and is one of Alaska’s preeminent social conservative thought leaders.

Pastor Ron Hoffman, ordained by Prevo in 2005, has been appointed pastor to succeed him. He’s been on the staff for 15 years and began attending the church when he was in the ninth grade. Prevo becomes pastor emeritus, and will retain his salary for life. The church is without debt and has $21 million in the bank.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The Service was extraordinary. Pastor Prevo was called an exceptional pastor, shepherd, and businessman by both Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr, both of whom knew exceptional ministers up close and personal. Pastor Prevo serves on both of their respective Boards. Obviously, we have had a legend right in our midst for about 50 years.

  • I was so fortunate to grow up at ABT. I moved to Georgia after graduating high school and ABT has been my measuring stick when it comes to choosing a church to attend. After 20 some years I finally found a church home that can compare to what I gained from Pastor Prevo. I am so thankful for the blessing he has been in my spiritual walk through adolescence and teenage years. Pastor Prevo preaches The Bible and while some may see his sermons as hateful he has always said God loves the sinner but hates the sin. Thank you Pastor Prevo for your conviction, your guidance, your compassion, and your Love for God.

  • So the property scandals and how some people got homes that were exempt from property taxes because they were were church property but were private homes is all over? The whole piece is worth a read:

    https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/article/inquiry-targets-anchorage-baptist-temple-tax-exemptions/2012/01/15/

    • You must have missed the ADN story. They ran a story not too long ago about Black History Month. When a commenter wrote negatively about Elvi Gray-Jackson instead of David Eastman, the ADN responded by disappearing the comment section, which had netted over 150 comments by that point. They evidently didn’t feel the same way this time, as the comment section became yet another venue to repeatedly bash Dr. Prevo on that and other issues. Reading the story, you would have also noticed that they provided a forum for Christopher Constant to spew invective, as if he doesn’t have enough of an opportunity for that already.
      .
      It’s not just the mainstream media. Wikipedia is still a very prominent presence on the web due to its high ranking in Google searches. It’s also a hotbed for advocacy for the LGBTXYZPDQ movement. A small snapshot of how it views Alaska is revealing. On one page, the Anchorage Assembly is said to be of national importance. Not due to anything related to its history or scope, but rather the fact that Constant and Felix Rivera serve on the body and both are gay (sourced to, surprise, The Huffington Post). The article on Johnny Ellis is supposed to be a biography. Someone cherry-picked the Wohlforth column to source the statement about Ellis coming out as gay, leaving out the wealth of biographical information Wohlforth also wrote about Ellis in that particular piece. Examples like that go on and on and on. By contrast, look at how little acknowledgement is given to ABT and Prevo on Wikipedia, despite the fact that they have met the standard of “has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability) for somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 years.

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