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Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska


Chilling News that Warms the heart Reaching People for Christ’s Sake from near the North Pole

God Continues to Bless Hooper Bay through Samaritan’s Purse

Jan/Feb 2008

Field Director: Rodney J. Sawyer Associate Field Director: Nathan Toots Office Manager: Sara Scoles

The Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska [ECCAK] is non-conference “field” of the Covenant Church of America. We are dependent on the gifts from churches and people to carry out our mission for Christ’s sake in Alaska.

P.O. Box 770749 Eagle River, Alaska 99577-0749 Phone: 907-694-6348 Fax: 907-694-6378 Email:

Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska

Inside this issue:

God’s blessing in the aftermath of the village fire in 2006 continues. A new multi-purpose facility with a worship and youth center [for picture see page 2] could be completed before Christmas of this year. We thank God for His provision through the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse and all who labored with them! The finishing touch on the outside was the placement of a large cross. As it was secured in place for all of Hooper Bay, the three involved praise God “from whom all blessings flow.” This symbol of the cross will be the inaudible voice of Spirit of God crying out to all who may be passing by. May it speak ever so loudly of the Savior’s sacrifice on the cross to take away the sins of all who trust Him! Cont’d pg. 2...

Leaders 4 Life


New Song SWOTs


CMJ Stands for...


The 2nd Coming of the Tower of Babel


Saying “Good-Bye”


Elder Needs and Good Deeds


AAADD: The Disease...


Old Pictures


Being Biblical “Unbiblically”


What’s Happenin’?


McElwees Accept Call to White Mt.


God Continues to Bless Hooper Bay, Cont’d... The new multi-purpose building built by a multitude of people from multitudes of places all over the country is almost complete at the time of this writing. In the picture to the left, the side with the handicap ramp is where the believers will gather for corporate worship. This is the side that now supports a huge cross which is visible from a long distance away. On the right side of the facility is the youth center. They will be providing a service to the community via a restaurant. All of the students involved in “Leaders for Life” will be working as servants and cooks. They received training from owners of Wendy restaurants that came in from North Carolina! The desire is to serve the people of Hooper Bay in the Spirit of Christ as the young people convey the love of Christ.

Leaders for Life


By Josh Funk

Hi, my name is Josh Funk and I am the youth pastor here in Hooper Bay. We just started our Leaders For Life group here last summer. It started off really slow, (because of the busyness of summer) but it kept growing as it kept going. When I say, "it kept growing" I'm not talking about the number of youth in the group, I'm talking about the difference this group is making in lives. See, Leaders For Life is an accountability and mentoring program that is aimed at growing people in their personal relationship with Jesus, and in their desire to work together as a team for Jesus. In our group here we all meet once a month as a group and maybe have a devotional time, prayer time, and a fun time too.


Also, once every week there are mentorship groups meeting. Each group is made up of 5 or 6 students and their mentor (guys with guy mentors, and girls with girl mentors). We have a student led devotional time from our Cont’d. pg 7...



New Song SWOTs and Strategies Pray: Our bi-monthly newsletter, “Chilling News”, is full of stories about the people and ministry of ECCAK throughout the state. It also has a daily prayer calendar. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please let us know. Encouragement; W r i t i n g and/or calling those who serve in the bush is a great ministry! Want to adopt a church or a pastor? Ask for a prayer card of a pastor. Mission Teams: There are often times when we have need for teams of people to come and join with a local church, camp, college, youth group, etc. For a specific construction project or outreach event. Volunteers: The ECCAK office needs volunteers to assist in administration, grant writing, special projects, etc. Financial: God often calls people to give to ECCAK beyond the normal local church tithe or churches to place ECCAK in their mission budget. Some are led to

leave a gift through estate planning to carry on the work in Alaska into the future. Credit Card Donations: ECCAK can now receive donations via credit cards. The perforated tab on the Prayer Calendar allows for this giving option. Also, you can contact Sara Scoles at the ECCAK office (907) 694-6348 and she will be happy to assist you. Teachers or Nurses: Christian teachers or nurses often come to Bush Alaska as “missionaries” and serve in the local Covenant church during off hours. Pastors/Youth Workers: Often we have empty pulpits and are in need of pastors, short and long-term. Many villages have no one reaching out to the youth. Donate Air Miles: Many people accumulate free air miles. Please consider donating some to ECCAK to help a bush pastor and family get away for some R & R.



      

Why is abbreviation such a long word? Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds? Ever stop to think, and forget to start again? Is not a conclusion simply the place where you got tired of thinking? If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent? Do you feel more like you do now then you did a while ago? Doesn't expecting the unexpected make the unexpected become the expected?

You may be saying to yourselves, “Strategies I understand, but what is a SWOT?” Good question. At this year’s ECCAK Pastor/Leader Retreat, ECCAK and CYAK leadership took everyone through an exercise using a tool called SWOT. The “S” and the “W” stand for strengths and weaknesses found within the body of Christ as an organization [their local church]. The “O” and the “T” stand for opportunities and threats that are a part of our environment [external factors]. After identifying these things by making long lists, they used these “insights” in strategizing for the future. Nehemiah is a good book to study if you want to see these dynamics at work. It goes without saying that in the midst of the mix, prayer and biblical truths are key in the discernment process. In the picture above, leaders from New Song Covenant Church pose for their Field Director after developing their SWOTs. At a second meeting, they started down the road of seeking God to help them utilize their strengths and opportunities as well as overcome their weaknesses and threats. ECCAK has made itself available to all the Alaskan churches who feel a need to assess themselves in this way in order to seek church revitalization.

Very Distinguished ECC Guests Come to Pastor Leader Retreat Donn Engebretson and Mary Miller join the ECCAK pastors and leaders on the campus of InterAct where the 2007 ECCAK Pastor Leader Retreat was held. We are always honored to have such distinguished guests travel such a long distance to be a part of one of our special gatherings. 3

CMJ Stands for: Compassion, Mercy and Justice Out-going President Glenn Palmberg had a vision for helping those who are in great need. The world provides us with innumerable opportunities, even in our own back yard. ECC now supports a new department called CMJ where Deborah Blue new serves as its first Executive Director. Even before this became an “official” department, many Alaskan churches have been on the receiving end of their granting program. We have the opportunity of receiving matching funds in the following arenas: 1. Seed Grant: for a local church beginning a new compassion and/or justice ministry with poor or at-risk people. 2. CDC Grant: for a local church beginning or working through a Community Development Corporation or agency to do ministry with poor or at-risk people. 3. Partnership Grant: for two or more local churches that are working together to do a ministry with poor or at-risk people. 4. Organizing Grant: for a local church interested in empowering others through community organizing – addressing justice and advocacy issues with poor or at-risk people. 5. Training Grant: for a local church interested in sending individuals to education or training events, or sponsoring a similar event in their church, that will have a direct impact on supporting a church’s ministry with poor or at-risk people. ECCAK can receive up to $30,000 each calendar year in matching funds, but not without churches who take the time and effort to take a good hard look around them. ECCAK is thankful for those who have taken advantage of this over the last five years. Following are some of the creative ways we have been able to reach out further by taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity: Cont’d pg. 7...

Pastor Nathan Toots addresses a full house that gathered for ACC’s fundraising dinner at the Eagle River Community Covenant Church as President Dr. Keith Hamilton looks on. Nathan wears many hats: Associate Field Director of ECCAK, Associate Pastor at Anchorage First Covenant, Chair of the ACC Board, husband to a great wife, Isabelle, father, grandfather and on and on. 4

2008 ECCAK Superintendent Meeting ECCAK General Council ECC Mid-Winter ECCAK Annual Meeting ACC Board Meeting ABA Board Meeting Superintendent Retreat The Feast ECC Annual Meeting Pastor Leader Retreat

January 6-11 January 18-19 January 28-31 March 5-9 April 5-6 April 26 May 19-22 June 21-24 June 26-29 November 3-6

Chicago, IL Anchorage, AK Chicago, IL ACC Soldotna, AK Soldotna, AK Nome, AK Portage Lake, MI Green Lake, WI Green Lake, WI InterAct-Palmer, AK

2008 Bible Camp: Call to Worship Student Leadership Senior High Junior High Trailblazer Pathfinder CEF Vision

May 25-27 May 28-June 2 June 2-9 June 9-16 June 16-21 June 21-26 TBD August 5-10

North River

McElwees Accept the Call to White Mountain The McElwee Family pose at their Texas home. Ross and Ruth [center] later went through the candidating process and traveled to White Mountain with the Sawyers. At this time, they are heavily involved in raising their support. They can be contacted at 903.984.9034 or More on the McElwees in the next issue! 13

The Second Coming of the Tower of Babel In the Dec. 5th issue of the Anchorage Daily News they had an article on the increasing number of minorities in the Anchorage school district which supports 50,000 students. It seems that the non-white to white ratio now hovers at 50-50. “In 1976 when the district starting keeping track of its diversity, 13 percent of the students were minorities.” There are 95 different languages spoken in the school district! For the teachers, this must be like the Second Coming of the Tower of Babel! Following is a breakdown of the major language groups and the number of students in each group “on a day in October this year:” Spanish 1,294

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“...the only effective hermeneutic* of the gospel is the life of the congregation that believes it…” - Lesslie Newbigin in The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, pg 235 *The science of interpreting the meaning of an author's words or phrases and explaining it to others. 12

Samoan 754

Hmong 657

Tagalog 605

Yupik 222

Lao 190

Korean 174

Russian 92

Mien 77

Inupiaq 54

Romans 10:12-14 (NIV) 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?


ting n u o C d n hirteen a

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Time to Say “Good-Bye”... Time to Say “We love you.” Jon, Lisa and Rachel headed back to Scammon Bay via MARC after a long time in California undergoing medical diagnosis. Jon reported that “there is a 90% chance that I have Lou Gehrig's disease.” Of course, that leaves the chance of 10% that it is not. What else it could be is a mystery at this time, except to God. In the meantime, the Cardwells are going to be wrapping things up at the Scammon Bay Covenant Church during December after having served there a little over two years. They are planning on being back in California in early January so he can continue to receive tests to determine the cause of the “Lou Gehrig type” symptoms, which are degenerative to his muscle system. He asks for our prayers. They are certainly trusting God through the whole ordeal. One of Jon’s favorite verses in the midst of this is, 15a “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him... [Job 13:15a]. Good-byes are never permanent for the follower of Christ. When God called them to Alaska, He made them a permanent part of our hearts. They are a part of the Covenant family wherever they live. We are asking brothers and sisters from all of the family of God to show their love at this time of difficulty and uncertainty. When they returned to Alaska to close things out, their cash flow was near ground-zero. It is time to not only say “good-bye” to them, but also, “We love you, Cardwells!” ECCAK has a special fund called “Love the Cardwells.” We are asking everyone to pitch in to help them re-settle in California. There are many costs involved in this unexpected life transition. Please prayerfully consider how you can help. There is an insert inside of this newsletter to allow you to respond. May the Cardwells be overwhelmed with the love of Christ through His people.

Galatians 6:10 (NIV) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 6

Being “Biblical”, Cont’d... regarding certain doctrinal issues. Or we may even disagree on various ministry approaches or practices. But we still are all part of the family of God. The GOSPEL says that we are going to spend all of eternity together. While we must never stop seeking truth in theology by “rightly dividing the word of truth” in the church, it is the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ that is the only hill worth dying on, the line we do need to draw that separates us from cultish teachers that add to the GOSPEL by claiming new special revelations or salvation by works. We must be careful to remember that we are to take a strong stand on the GOSPEL, but there is lots of wiggle room when dealing with doctrines and issues that are not a part of the GOSPEL. Two individuals of the faith may feel that they are being absolutely “biblical” by pointing to passages that “prove” their point and yet still be at odds. We become unbiblical Biblicists when 1) we insist that our “biblical” is the only “biblical” out there, 2) that others must conform to our view of being “biblical” or we will declare them to be “unbiblical” or perhaps “heretical,” 3) we refuse to be open to learn and be stretched in our understanding that just might allow us to grow as did the Bereans [Acts 17:11], and 4) we allow our differences on the minor doctrines to diminish our fellowship with one another or even worse, to divide and separate us. We should be humbled by

Paul’s words from I Cor. 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Please do not misconstrue this article as a call to stop searching the Scriptures diligently, even over theological issues that are not directly tied to the GOSPEL. There are important doctrines that must continue to be discussed, understood and contextualized. It is very important that we hold God-glorifying discussions, as recently exemplified by our denomination through the Covenant paper written on human sexuality. But, we must learn to have such discussions with a spirit of love and humility. The world watches us more than we are aware! The way we conduct ourselves over “being biblical” could become a stumbling block to people who might otherwise be attracted to our message. Doctrinaire dogmatism over minor doctrines is the “damn” that inhibits the flow in the river of Christian fellowship, whereas, steering off course of the GOSPEL leads to the whirlpools of entrapment found in the flood waters of deception. I think a quote from John Wesley would be the best way to summarize this article: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV) 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures... 11

Elder Needs and Good Deeds

Field Director’s Corner

Being “Biblical” Un-biblically By Rodney J. Sawyer

Karl Ashenfelder is an elder of 70 years of age who lives in White Mountain and loves to sing praises unto God at his church. Recently, he informed the ECCAK office of how he was “so blessed by Nick Bruckner” on a visit to White Mountain . Karl said that Nick hauled in trees and chopped enough wood for three whole weeks! Nick ministers under his uncle Byron’s supervision and is a chip off the old block [pun intended]! Karl said that we need to share these acts of kind deeds to show our thanks to God for His provision.

How often and how easy it is to find ourselves drawing lines in the sand over theological issues. This practice can be good or bad; biblical or unbiblical. It is important to discern which doctrines from the Bible are tied to the GOSPEL of Christ and which are not. We need to recognize that theological differences that are not tied to the GOSPEL are not reasons to consider others to be outside of the faith and “unbiblical.” The GOSPEL of Jesus Christ from the Scriptures is not a difficult or debatable doctrine. God is perfect and He is just. Those who sin will be punished. We all have sinned which destines us to the punishment of eternal separation from God. No one can ever pay the penalty for their sins or do enough good works to gain God’s favor. Cults and false religions promote working your way to heaven. The true GOSPEL is all about God’s loving and saving grace through the Lord Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, who came to earth and died to pay the penalty for all. Jesus’ death was the only perfect sacrifice for our sins. He is the only way to God. All who repent of their sins and come to Jesus Christ in faith, believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient to pay the penalty for all their sins, have their sins forgiven. This overwhelming enlightenment compels one from within to become a follower of Christ. This GOSPEL is non-debatable! The Scriptures are final! Dreams or visions, science or technology, man’s opinion or anything else cannot overrule, add to, change, or negate the GOSPEL in the Scriptures! This is the place to be “biblical,” to draw the line in the sand.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Camp Gilead received seed grant to help in camp operations for those with addiction problems. CYAK House received seed grant for to help support the UAF students for that year and the operations of the CYAK house. Nome Covenant received seed grant that allowed them to remodel their kitchen to reach out to the homeless. Hooper Bay Covenant received training grant that allowed a large group of students to attend Warriors Summit in OK. New Hope Counseling Center received a CDC grant that allowed for start up purposes Alaska Christian College received a seed grant that enabled students to receive training in food services as they were employed in the campus dining hall. Several bush churches have received training grants to allow them to attend the 2x2 Connection in 2008. Nome Covenant received a seed grant to help buy upgraded cooking utensils for the soup kitchen.

However, within the Christian community, there is room to disagree over all sorts of other “biblical” issues. We may disagree over matters of free will and God’s election, over the timing of Jesus’ return, over how the spiritual gifts play themselves out, over women in ministry, over the mode of baptism and the list could go on and on. However, if we agree on the pure unchangeable GOSPEL, we need to recognize that we are brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of our particular brand of being “biblical” on the lesser doctrines.


This is one of the biggest challenges for Christians, that is, to recognize that there are people of the faith with whom we may strongly disagree

"Touchpoints For Leaders" book, prayer, verse memorizing, and hanging out. It's been really encouraging for us, and I believe it has and will continue to strengthen each of us in our relationship with Jesus. These meetings are not our youth group time, they take extra time and commitment, but it is worth it if they pull us together as a team serving Jesus. 7

Cont’d pg. 11...


CMJ, cont...


Leaders, cont...

AAADD: The Disease That Never Gets Diagnosed As you get older, there is a disease known as AAADD and it is rarely diagnosed even though the symptoms are obvious. AAADD just comes upon most unsuspecting people and they live with it until they die. AAADD stands for Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. Perhaps you have AAADD like I do. How do I know? I will describe my day yesterday and you will get the picture. Yesterday, I got up feeling great! I decide to change the plugs in my broken-down snow machine because my wife wants a ride in the fresh new snow. As I start towards the door, I notice that there is mail on the hall table. I was supposed to pay the bills, so I decide to go through the mail before I change out the plugs. I lay my snow machine keys down on the hall table, sort through the junk mail and start to put it in the trash can under the table. It is too full. So, I decide to put the mail back on the table and take out the trash before my wife gets on my case about that. But then I think, since the post office is just across the street, I can take out the trash and pay the bills at the same time. I take my checkbook off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My recollection tells me that my extra checks are on the dresser in the bedroom, so I go to the dresser where I find the can of Coke that I lost a couple hours earlier. I'm going to look for my checks, but first I

need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over like I did last night and got in trouble with my wife. I see that the Coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--my wife told me to water them so I had better do it now or get into more trouble. I set the Coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that my wife and I were searching for all last night; boy was she mad. I decide I better put them back on the night stand by my bed, but first I'm going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when me and my honey go to watch TV, I will be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the living room where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers. I go to put some water on the flowers and I think I see something move out of the corner of my eye. As I look and see nothing, I pour most of the water on the floor. So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some paper towels and wipe up the spill from the floor. I get up and head down the hall way. About half way down, I stop and try to remember what I was doing before I spilled the water. Cont’d pg. 9...

AAADD, Cont’d At the end of the day: the plugs in the snow machine still need changing, the bills aren’t paid, there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter, the flowers aren't watered, there is still only one check in my checkbook, I can't find the remote, I can't find my reading glasses, I don't remember what I did with the keys to the snow machine, and my wife is in a real bad mood again! Then when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired. I realize this is a very serious problem, and I should go to the emergency ward, but first I'll check my e-mail. Then the process starts all over again with the PM version!!

Wanted...OLD PICTURES! We hope that many of you enjoy the new 2008 ECCAK calendar. We thank many for the pictures they shared. As we think about putting out another calendar for 2009, perhaps you have some old pictures from the “good old days” that you would like to share with all of us. Please send them to ECCAK—PO Box 770749 Eagle River, AK 99577. We will scan them and return them to you. Be sure to provide us with your return address.

Picture taken in White Mountain. None of the names are known except that perhaps the 5th from left might be Steve Agloinga. This picture was contributed by Kathy Bergamaschi.

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ECCAK JanFebNL 2008