Abbott Loop Community Church
On November 15, 1959, three families gathered together to hold church in an old, donated Quonset hut which was nestled between the trees on a tract in the Abbott Loop Subdivision in south Anchorage where Abbott Loop Community Church’s building now stands. Besides the pastor, Dick Benjamin, there were two other men and their families. All were strong, spiritual Christians who were convinced that the Bible’s pattern is for local churches to be sovereign under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, bound to one another by love rather than by legal ties. The church was named Abbott Loop Community Chapel, Inc. This is still the legal name of the corporation. During the 1970s and 1980s it was known as Abbott Loop Christian Center, with the present name adopted in 1994.
The church has a strong Pentecostal heritage in Bethel Temple in Seattle, Washington. This is where Dick Benjamin became a Christian in 1945. He received his early training under Bethel’s late pastor, W.H. Offiler.
A year after the church was begun, the old Quonset was overcrowded. The church received a great influx of people during the Charismatic Movement of the mid 1960s, with another during the Jesus People Movement in the early 1970s when a two-year adult Bible school was opened. The first permanent structure was built in 1963. Construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline in the late 1970s drew many people to Anchorage, which helped continue the momentum of growth at Abbott Loop as well.
In 1973, several events took place that dramatically altered the ministry of the church. Dick Benjamin was ordained as an apostle that year. At the same time, another man was ordained as a teacher and another as a prophet. This brought the church into the fivefold ministries of Eph. 4:11, which says that Jesus, after he ascended to heaven, “gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” With this new structure the church began to grow even more rapidly.
The building was expanded in 1973 to accommodate a larger congregation and the Christian school which opened that year. Building was in evidence almost continuously through 1982, when the auditorium was stretched to its present capacity of nearly 2,000, more classrooms were added to the school to the south, and more offices and a conference room on the north. Within two months of the ordination of the church’s first apostle, two teams were sent to begin the first outreach churches outside of Alaska. Today, some 1,100 people have been sent and there are more than fifty outreach churches as well as fully supported missionaries in several countries.
In August 1989, Dick Benjamin transferred headship of the church to his son, Rick. This event led to a period of transition in the culture and ministries of the church. Dick and Carol retired from the apostle ministry in 1999.
In 2005 the church property was re-contoured, and in 2006 the auditorium was remodeled and updated. Abbott Loop continues to grow and change, anticipating how God will build on our foundations towards his vision for us.
A New Pastor
In September 2008 Rick Benjamin transferred the Lead Pastor role to Josh Tanner. Josh and his wife Joni were both born and raised in Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula. They met in high school and were married after graduating in 1996. Together with their six children, Caleb, Maggie, Judah, Titus, Justus and Cherish, they passionately serve the Lord at Abbott Loop Community Church.
In March 2012, the members of Abbott Loop Community Church went through a difficult time
when the roof of the sanctuary collapsed under the weight of the record-breaking snowfall. By the grace of God, no one was injured during the collapse and construction is currently underway on the building.
A Homecoming service was held on November 18, 2012 celebrating returning to the newly remodeled gymnasium in the existing building. It was a surprising event that has catapulted the church into the next season of ministry.