CCC prepares to say goodbye to Jim and Nanci Lomen

By Mary M. Rall
Community Covenant Church

Jim & Nanci Lomen

Jim & Nanci Lomen

The geography of a church sanctuary can often be described by the individuals and families who serve as landmarks in the plots of seats they routinely fill on Sunday mornings. The landscape of Community Covenant Church will be forever changed in mid-May, though, when Jim and Nanci Lomen no longer occupy the seats in the second row they’ve faithfully filled for many years.

The couple is preparing to move to South San Francisco, where Jim has accepted a position as the San Francisco Airports District office manager. Jim will begin his new job in June, and the Lomens will drive a U-Haul truck out of Alaska May 12.

The excitement of the move and all the adventures that will come with it is almost palpable when speaking with Jim and Nanci, both of whom admit that leaving their family and their friends at CCC will be the hardest part of leaving the state.

“Community Covenant Church is the only church where I ever felt I belonged, and that’s where all my growth has been,” Jim said, explaining he began attending CCC in 2000. Nanci began attending in 2001, soon after they started dating.

Both said many from CCC have been instrumental in their lives and those of their children, Victoria Barnes, 22, Eric Fragnoli, 20, and Brandt Lomen, 19. All of the Lomens’ children have very different interests and personalities, to say the least, but Jim and Nanci said the one thing they all have in common is the manner in which CCC and its congregation have poured into their lives.

The list of people who’ve loved and supported the Lomen family over the years seemed endless as Jim and Nanci recounted the significant relationships they’ve formed at the church. Both shared fond memories of former youth pastors Brian Nanninga and Jeff Keyser, Bob and Sandy Gold, Kevin and Ann Murphy and former Lead Pastor Mark Meredith.

“He was the only pastor I had a relationship with and who spoke into my life,” Jim said of Meredith, admitting he was initially shook when Meredith announced he would be leaving CCC.

Jim said he soon found peace in prayer, though, and he was privileged to witness how God worked to bring Lead Pastor Todd Michero to CCC.

“I had great anticipation that God was going to do something great,” Jim said. “To witness God’s faithfulness to our church through that whole process was very encouraging.”

Nanci smiled as she recalled fond memories of how she and her children have been supported and loved over the last 14 years at CCC.

“The church is our family, and the church cared for our kids,” Nanci said, recalling when their family was baptized in the Jordan River during CCC’s first trip to Israel.

“Mark prayed over Victoria the day she got her permit, and she’s still a good driver to this day,” Nanci laughed. “Sandy has prayed with Victoria. Bob would sit and have conversations with Brandt when we were camping and would fish with Eric.”

Both Jim and Nanci agree the Golds were instrumental in encouraging them to serve at CCC as well.

“I would have never thought of myself as serving with the Women’s Ministry,” Nanci said. “If Sandy hadn’t asked, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Jim said his first act of volunteerism at CCC was hanging the acoustic panels in the sanctuary alongside Bob.

“I look at how God brought me to Community Covenant Church as really instrumental in many different ways and how He brought people into my path, and I was invited in, and I took the risk of accepting that invitation,” Jim said. “Through those little risks, God has really built me up. He’s given me opportunities to serve and to have friendships with some pretty amazing people.”

The Lomens’ history of service at CCC never really ceased from those first moments when the Golds came alongside them, and Jim has since served as the chairman of the Local Mission Advisory Team, began Men of Distinction, served for two consecutive terms on the Leadership Team, helped develop the Mission Action Plan, served as a senior high school youth group volunteer, led a high school Mountain Men group and served on the Pastoral Search Team.

Nanci has served in support of the Women’s Ministry, as a Bible study co-leader, supported the 40 Days of Purpose congregational small group series, helped coordinate CCC’s ten year anniversary celebration, volunteered with both the sixth grade and junior high youth groups and has served as CCC’s Assistant Student Ministries Director and as an administrative assistant.

The Lomens have truly served in many and varied ways at CCC, and admit they don’t know precisely what they’ll experience in the years ahead as they prepare to trade their home in Anchorage for a 36-foot motorhome.

“I’m ecstatic. Nanci and I went from a 4,200-square-foot house with a huge garage to an 1,800-square-foot house with a teeny garage, and now we have found this house to be too big,” Jim said. “The idea to be able to explore on long weekends is a really exciting opportunity.”

Jim said selling their Anchorage home to travel the Lower 48 in a recreational vehicle following his previously planned retirement about two years from now had been in the works for quite some time, and the unanticipated relocation to California has made the decision to live in the RV while he works at his new job in San Francisco a fairly easy one to make.

Although Jim said any plans to retire are temporarily on hold, the adventure of the RV lifestyle is still moving forward on all cylinders, the excited anticipation for which Nanci shares.

“The opportunity to be together, to explore new adventures, to try new things…I can’t wait, ” Nanci said, noting the only thing that will be the same from their life in Alaska is her, Jim and their 17-year-old miniature schnauzer, Oscar.

As exciting as the opportunity to explore new highways and byways is, though, the Lomens said they’ll shed a fair share of tears when they depart the state.

“The hardest part about leaving is that I’m going to miss my family and our friends at church,” Nanci said. “I’ll probably cry a lot and use a lot of FaceTime.”

Jim said their preparations for the move haven’t left a lot of time for them to dwell on all they’ll be leaving behind, though.

“That will probably be dealt with between here and Washington,” he laughed. “We have so much to deal with in the excitement of all this, that it’s easy to ignore it.”

Nanci admits it’s less painful to not discuss leaving as well, noting she and close friend and coworker Cheri McDonald, CCC’s Office and Building Use Manager, have agreed to not talk about her fast-approaching move.

“My life at Community Covenant Church has really been an experience of the definition of a faith community, because that church and the people there are my family,” Nanci said, her voice cracking with emotion as she recalled how she’s grown, prayed, served and healed alongside many over the years. “I got to watch God do amazing things.”

Likewise, the congregation of CCC has been able to watch God do amazing things through Jim and Nanci, whose absence in the second row in the center of the sanctuary and in the lives of many won’t go unmissed.