Community Covenant Church founder steps down
When Mark Meredith sold his office furniture business and left the Seattle area to start a church in Eagle River 17 years ago, he was uncertain of the decision to uproot his wife and three children — then ages 8, 11 and 13.
“It was definitely a challenge,” Meredith said. “Lots of wondering going up the Alcan. Is this the right thing?”
After nearly two decades and seeing his congregation increase twenty six-fold, Meredith knows it was.
“It’s been the best years for us,” he said. “Really great. We love Eagle River. We love the church.”
But it’s time to move on.
On Father’s Day, Meredith conducted his final Sunday services as lead pastor of Community Covenant Church. He’s leaving next week to return to the Seattle area where he has family and to be a pastor at another church.
“We’re excited about another church, another challenge, another place,” Meredith said.
An interim pastor will take over, Meredith said, before a transition team selects his permanent replacement.
Community Covenant started with a congregation of 30 people who met at Gruening Middle School. In five years, that number grew to 300 and the congregation moved out of Gruening and into its current location on Artillery Road.
Today, Community Covenant has 800 members and seven pastors.
Meredith never anticipated remaining in Alaska for nearly two decades.
“We thought we’d be here maybe five years,” he said. “It just kind of grows on you. One year leads to the next.”
The church’s rapid expansion was also a surprise.
“We never knew what it would be,” Meredith said.
Meredith attributed his transition from businessman to pastor to “they mystery of God’s calling.”
“I got tired of the business world and wanted to help people figure it out,” he said. “It just seemed like a good fit at the time and it was.”
Meredith said he’ll miss every member of his congregation — and of course, fly fishing on the Kenai River.
Most of all, the job gave him the opportunity to guide church members through difficult times, Meredith said.
“I have really enjoyed … helping people through their hard spots,” he said. “We’ve touched lots of people.”
Meredith said he also enjoyed working with other local churches.
“There are some great churches in the area,” he said.
Many of Community Covenant’s original members can be seen every Sunday, Meredith said.
“That group of 30 is pretty much still there,” he said.
Some of them joined Meredith at the front of the church to pray for their longtime pastor and his family at the conclusion the 11 a.m. service Sunday, June 17.
Throughout his tenure serving Eagle River, Meredith said the message remains unchanged.
“The thing we say to each other is let’s keep the main thing the main thing. And for us, that’s Jesus Christ,” Meredith said. “He is the center.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected]