About Us

Sunday Mornings

Located at Mile 67.5 on the Parks Highway, Willow United Methodist Church invites you to join us each Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. for Worship, with Adult Sunday school at 9:45 and a children’s Sunday School lesson for our youngest children offered during the worship service after the children’s time.

Come just as you are! We are very casual, following a traditional style of worship. We are one of the few mainline denominations in the area. While United Methodist, we welcome persons of many different church backgrounds or no church background to join us.

There is a place for YOU here at Willow. Plan to be our guest and stay for Coffee, refreshments and fellowship after church.

Willow Community Food Pantry

The Willow Community Food Pantry meets every Wednesday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Families may come to the food pantry once a month. The church is also open during these hours for families who live in dry cabins to take showers or gather water. We are also a site that distributes Sr. Boxes and Commodity food boxes provided by the government. Throughout the summer we have lunches on site for children every Wednesday in conjunction with our partnership with Kids Kupboard. The pantry services persons in the Willow, Houston and Caswell lakes areas. Persons may apply any Wednesday at the Food Pantry. Please bring proof that one resides in the service area.

History of the Church and Mission​

The Willow ministry was founded in the early 80s as part of the Parks Highway Parish, which also included congregations in Wasilla and Trapper Creek, a span of over 90 miles!

Willow UMC is near the center of the area that makes up Willow.  We are the only mainline Protestant church for over 30 miles, and one of the largest churches in Willow. The next UMC church north of us is 300 miles away! With about 40-50 in worship each Sunday, we are a larger family-like church. Much of our focus is on responding to the poverty we see around us.

Our Mission Statement is: To be a mission outpost of the United Methodist Church in Alaska, and as Christ’s disciples responding to God’s love by our witness, stewardship and outreach with and for all persons and creation.

Because of the outreach efforts of the Willow Community Food Pantry, Willow UMC is seen as a trusted source of help for those in need, and a caring place for children, youth, families, and adults.

We welcome all people!  Come just as you are!  Love of God and love of neighbor is what we focus on the most. You will find a caring, outward focused community of faith ready to welcome you.  

Ministry Challenges in this Setting

Willow, Alaska, spans about 30 miles of the Parks Highway, north of Anchorage. Mostly spread out and rural, the approximately 2000 residents represent an economically diverse spread. With easy access to Anchorage, Willow is a favorite spot for many weekenders who want to get out of the city for the ‘real Alaska’ experience. Anything from simple small cabins to extensive second homes are spaced throughout the area. Intermixed with this is one of the most impoverished areas of the state. Many people live completely ‘off the grid,’ with no electricity, water, or fuel source other than wood. Many houses are temporary-turned-permanent, and not necessarily designed for winter weather. Since temperatures here can dip well below zero and stay there, and the snowfall can exceed 9-10 feet per winter, this creates some real challenges for people in those conditions.

The primary employment includes dog sled trainers and flight-guides for hunting and fishing. Beyond this and such things as teachers and services, employment opportunities are primarily based in communities roughly 30-40 miles away. Willow is somewhat central to much of the state’s road system, and was once even considered as a site for the state capital. Because of its location and accessibility, many great recreational, historical, and scenic locations are readily available within a day’s drive.

What God is Up To Here

Much of the outreach ministry of the church is accomplished through the Willow Community Food Pantry. The ministry was formed 20 years ago in response to the poverty needs in this area.  The weekly food pantry serves 150-165 families monthly, and distributes over 100,000 pounds o of food annually. We have a firewood ministry, provide water and showers for those who live in dry cabins, and help with specific construction projects on as needed. We also have a fuel voucher program and provide other emergency assistance working closely with Valley Charities. The Food Pantry also partners with the Willow Health Organization and the Willow Area Community Organization (WACO) in improving services and events available to the community. What are the ministries that persons can support financially: 

● Support of Willow United Methodist Church allows for ongoing pastoral presence. The congregation is dependent upon donations to be able to afford a full time pastor and must raise about $50,000 a year beyond local giving to do so.

● Giving to the Willow Community Food Pantry is a direct way to serve the people of the community who need it most.  Funds raised support the salary of the part-time director, purchase food, and provide emergency help to those in need. $50,000 in outside funds is needed annually to support the Food Pantry.

Praying for this Setting

Please be praying for those in our community who are most vulnerable financially, economically, and socially. We ask God’s continued strength for the congregation and community to serve those whose family systems and support networks are not always helpful. We also ask that God continues to allow us to have a clear understanding of our call as the Body of Christ in mission together.

VIM Teams​

Yearly work teams help with construction projects, Vacation Bible School, chopping and distributing wood, and many other jobs as needed. Groups come from all over the country for 1-2 weeks during the summer. Staying at the church or in member’s homes, they experience firsthand what it is to engage in partnership ministries. There is an application process and a couple of years waiting list. Initial inquiries and requests for application should be sent to our work team Coordinator, the Rev. Joe-d DowlingSoka at joedowlingsoka@gmail.com.

Our Story on Advance Special Sites

Our Advance Special Site for Willow UMC:
Advance Special Site for Willow Community Food Pantry:
We invite you to Download a brochure from Willow United Methodist Church
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