Prevo Honored On 40th Anniversary At Anchorage Baptist Temple
“I don't know of any church like it anywhere in the country."
Forty years in the desert ... 40 days and 40 nights of rain ... -- 40 is a key number in the Bible.
And so it was Sunday at the Anchorage Baptist Temple, where Pastor Jerry Prevo was honored for his four decades of service.
Parishioners saw a video chronicling Prevo’s history at the church:
"In 1971, Jerry, Carol and their son Allen left all they knew in Tennessee and trusted God as they moved north to Alaska."
At Northern Lights and Baxter, the Baptist Temple, through Prevo’s media outreach, has become perhaps the most recognized church in Alaska.
"It's a tremendous thing,” said superstar evangelist Franklin Graham, whose relief organization Samaritan’s Purse has worked with Prevo in providing assistance to rural Alaska villages following fires and natural disasters. “I don't know of any church like it anywhere in the country."
Some of the most moving tributes came from Alaska politicians, including Congressman Don Young, who endured a criminal investigation that ended in no charges being brought.
“The one man that stood by me was Pastor Prevo," Young said. “Because he asked me, 'congressman, are you innocent in the eyes of God?' and I said 'yes I am.' 'Then he will help you.' And never once in four years I did not have that hand on my shoulder."
And Governor Sean Parnell, who once attended school on the Baptist Temple campus, said that his one-time feud with Young is over, thanks to Prevo.
Parnell: "Dr. Prevo is still involved in my life, bringing reconciliation and healing between me and Congressman Don Young."
While the audience of 2,200 people came to praise Prevo, the speakers in the service did not shy away from discussing the pastor's controversial role in Alaska and Anchorage politics.
Graham said Prevo has been under attack politically because he sticks to the Bible:
“And he wants the best for this city, he wants the best for this community, for this state, and he holds to God's standards. And we need to support him and we need to get around him because it's going to get worse in the months to come."
Prevo says being a lightning rod has been stressful, particularly when he expresses his opposition to homosexuality.
"And every time that comes up, that's a tough time. Our church was set on fire, shots have been fired at my son, threats have been made to me and my wife, and so that's always a difficult time."
But his parishioners like that he doesn't back down.
"And he doesn't pull any punches,” said Donald Ross. “He says what he believes. He says what the Bible says. And that's what we want to hear."
Forty years on, Jerry Prevo is still in the pulpit.