Dillingham the site of Samaritan's Purse 30th church in Alaska

Aug 6, 2019

The Moravian Church is getting a new building, courtsey of the evangelical organization. The structure cost around $2 million dollars and will hold roughly 200 people. 

Credit Tyler Thompson

Construction of the new Moravian Church in Dillingham is less than two months away from completion. Plans for the building kicked-off two years ago with a visit from the Samaritan’s Purse – an evangelical christian organization led by Franklin Graham. The new building cost around $2 million, and it will be the group’s 30th church built in Alaska.


Credit Tyler Thompson

The site of their new structure sits at East Main Street, and it's teeming with vigorous volunteers wearing vibrant orange t-shirts, courtesy of the Samaritan’s Purse.

The old church, built 50 years ago, is in disarray. Its faulty wiring, old plumbing and battered stairwells don’t meet modern building code standards and would cost at least $400,000 to repair.

Pastor Simon Flynn has served the church for the last nine years. He said the need for a new building is long overdue.

“This has been a prayer, from what I hear, for almost 40 years for a new church," Flynn said. "Two years ago we made a request to Samaritan’s Purse, we submitted a proposal to them not thinking we weren’t going to get it. But, they called up says (sic) we’re coming to visit.”

With a growing congregation, the new building is slated to hold 168 occupants in the auditorium, plus 50 more in adjoining rooms. That extra space doesn’t include the four large classrooms for children’s programs and offices for church administrators.

Kevin Lynch is overseeing the construction. It’s his first job as project manager for

Credit Tyler Thompson

 the Samaritan’s Purse, and he said the building is a testament to modern technology – it even has a heated concrete slab in the foundation.

“The radiant heat off the slab will keep the building warm so it won’t require as much diesel to run," Lynch said. "Insulation is completely foam on the inside roof, ceilings walls, everything, the windows are what they call a triple glazed window, there’s a third piece of glass in there so heat doesn’t transfer out the glass.”

Lynch said more than 120 volunteers have flown in to work on the project. Every Monday, one work group departs and 16 new workers arrive.

Volunteers come from around the country - Alaska, Tennessee, California and Florida, among other places. They pay their way to Kenai, but the Purse covers transportation to Dillingham, lodging and meals.

Craig Hewitt is a volunteer from Ohio. He was part of last week’s group and he’s worked with the Samaritans Purse for nearly eight years.

“Three years ago, I started coming to Alaska on church builds and I fell in love with the area," Hewitt said. "I love the climate; I love the people. There’s a need up here for not only the structures and the building of the structures, but the church is the community – we encourage people to be involved.”

Construction is slated to end Sept. 27. Barring any delays in supply shipments, the church will hold an inauguration ceremony Sept. 30.


Contact the author at tyler@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.