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Couple answers God's call from Alaska

Jim Haning accepted a position as senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in central Kitsap in July.  He and his wife Beth came to the church, located between West Bremerton and Chico, after serving at a Baptist congregation in Hamilton Acres, Alaska, near Fairbanks. - Photo by Tracey Cooper
Jim Haning accepted a position as senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in central Kitsap in July. He and his wife Beth came to the church, located between West Bremerton and Chico, after serving at a Baptist congregation in Hamilton Acres, Alaska, near Fairbanks.
— image credit: Photo by Tracey Cooper

Their first day in Bremerton, Beth Haning’s children brought her two snakes, a slithery reminder they weren’t in snake-free Fairbanks anymore.

Her husband Jim Haning started July 1 as senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Bremerton July 1.

So far, the long-time Alaska residents say they are having a wonderful, albeit balmy, time. They haven’t even seen it rain.

Pastor Haning left his post as assistant pastor at Hamilton Acres Baptist Church near Fairbanks for a chance to lead his own congregation. Aside from layovers at SeaTac Airport he hadn’t been to Washington state. But in April he applied for the Calvary Baptist post and was later called to the church.

Like the Hamilton Acres congregation, Calvary has a strong military presence. Both churches are independent and fundamental.

“Personally I want to serve as faithfully as I can,” Haning said about his goals during his stay.

“Then I want to shepherd this flock as God would allow.” he said.

Haning would like to see a discipleship program established to work with people who have converted. He also wants to concentrate on working with youth, “training the next generation to serve the Lord.”

Haning did his undergraduate work at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Minnesota and his graduate work at Northland Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin.

Haning’s intense interest in studying God’s word first started in 1982 when he was saved at Hamilton Acres. He served as assistant pastor under Beth’s father and then her brother.

“I always sensed I had a desire to go into the ministry,” he said.

Even though Beth left her hometown and family she said she is happy following the call to Washington.

“I knew that this was where the Lord wanted us,” she said.

But there are traces of Alaska in Haning’s office, notably a northern pike fish stretching across one wall.

Haning said his new congregation has been supportive, fixing up the parsonage and filling the cupboards, making the family of five feel at home — the Hanings have three school-age children.

“If they already trust in Christ it would be to teach them God’s word and how to take God’s word and apply it to their daily lives,” Haning said.

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