The couple moved to Kodiak from Brooklin, Maine, this spring after Peter was called to be the pastor at Community Baptist Church.
During the interview with the church, the Spragues told the Community Baptist call committee they had met in a sardine factory. They were told that they would fit well in Kodiak.
Teresa said she savors the smell of the ocean that greets her the moment she walks out the door. “That’s what I really love,” she said.
“We’re coastal people,” Peter said, noting it would be hard for them to live away from the ocean.
The Spragues have lived in Maine most of their lives. Teresa grew up in a small town, with a population of 1,200.
Born in Bar Harbor, Maine, Peter lived 10 years in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, where his father was a truck driver and his mother a teacher.
When he was ready to enter high school, the family returned to Maine.
Peter graduated with a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Rochester. His wife attended the University of Maine in Orono, but dropped out when the Spragues married. Later she went back to college to finish a degree in art education. She taught elementary children for five years.
The Spragues spent the first few years of their married life near Philadelphia, where Peter worked as a process engineer for Sun Oil Company.
At that time, the couple was involved in the Baptist church they attended. Although Peter was doing well at his job, he answered a calling that he had sensed early in his life.
“I realized this is where God wanted us to be,” he said. “I told my wife that she married an engineer and got stuck with a minister.”
Peter received a divinity degree at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary.
Within 29 years, Peter pastored four different churches in Maine. “We’ve gone from the inner city to rural country churches,” he said.
While serving his flock, Peter enrolled in a Masters program at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida and is working on a doctor of divinity degree at Acadia Divinity College at Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
His thesis is “building community around the idea of the atonement,” Peter said. “Community is a big part of my ministry.”
Peter completes most of his studies and research at home and participates in a week of residency at the college.
He said he hopes to finish his work within the year. Until then, he has to forego invitations to hunt and fish on Kodiak Island.
Before coming to Kodiak, Peter was an interim pastor in Brooklin, Maine. Since he was in a temporary position, the Spragues began looking at permanent options.
Teresa conducted a web search and discovered that Community Baptist Church was looking for a pastor.
“I hounded Peter about it,” she smiles. “He said, ‘Are you sure you want to go Alaska?’” Her response was “‘Why not? We want an adventure, don’t we?’ At our age we need an adventure. He sent them his résumé on a whim.”
A week later, members of the search committee called them in Brooklin.
Once the Spragues seriously began to consider the possibility of serving in far-off Alaska, they had to do some research.
“We didn’t know where Kodiak was,” Teresa said.
The Spragues came to the island for a visit the first Sunday after Easter.
“They had to check us out, and, we wanted to check them out,” Teresa said.
Both parties were satisfied, and the Spragues prepared to make a cross-continent move.
They made the journey, along with their dog and cat, in 12 days in a U-Haul truck towing their car.
The Spragues were pleasantly surprised by the diverse opportunities that are available in Kodiak.
Here, they can get involved in the community through various organizations. Teresa can go to college to pursue another degree.
She looks forward to putting her artistic and musical talents to work by teaching piano and painting pet portraits.
“Everything is so close and handy here,” she said. “I see a lot of opportunities, even outside the church.”
In recent years, the Spragues have felt a growing “concern and a desire to reach out and connect to the community outside of the church,” Peter said. “We try to get involved, not just in the life of the church, but in the larger community.”
Referring to himself as a “teacher of the Bible,” Peter said his focus has been teaching and application. “What we learn, what we believe as Christians, is more than dogma to argue about. It’s a practical way to live. We must live out our faith rather than just talk about it. But before you live it out, you have to think about it.”
The Spragues said that Kodiak presents a happy medium between their tastes in places they prefer to live.
While his wife gravitates toward rural areas, Peter said he appreciates “the more urban type of environment where there are a lot of needs and opportunities to bring our faith to bear on the culture around us.”
He concedes that “wherever there are people, the needs are pretty much the same.”
The Spragues agree that having many opportunities to minister to people in an area surrounded by wilderness is the best of both worlds.