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FALL 2020

Koyuk Parsonage Receives Extreme Makeover The Koyuk parsonage has undergone an “extreme home makeover” expected to be completed in approximately three months, but actually after a three-year project led by Doug and Mary Swanson, formerly of lasted two years with many challenges and setbacks along the way. The Koyuk. The Swansons proposed the idea to the Koyuk Church board in Swansons moved into the partially completed parsonage September of September of 2017 and renovations began in June of 2018. 2019. Eventually they sensed that God was actually preparing someone else “We started with a home with extensive water damage that could not to serve as a full-time pastor to live in the newly renovated parsonage and hold heat due to inferior heating, electric moved in June 2020 and plumbing systems,” Doug explained. In August, Pastor Don Cross and his three “We updated them with a lot of help from children moved into the renovated parsonage a lot of people. Several were in town and and have been making it home. Don pastored several flew in to help complete the in St. Michael for the past few years and project.” formerly served in Mountain Village Covenant In addition to investing significant time Church with his late wife Fei. and personal resources to see the project “The Swansons sacrificed in many ways to to completion, Doug received a generous see this vision become a reality,” Curtis grant from the Massie Foundation, as well Ivanoff expressed. “Doug and Mary as some funding from the Alaska persevered through Doug’s back surgery and Conference to assist with a MARC flight total knee replacement and the loss of Mary’s with materials and laborers. The church dad. Only God knows the full extent of their also contributed funds toward the project. giving and sacrifice, and I am so grateful for Arctic Barnabas staff and several other their perseverance and faithfulness that Jesus individuals donated time and materials to might be made more fully known in Koyuk..” the cause. In August, Doug produced a 26-minute Pastor Don Cross and his three children enjoy the newly remodeled The goal in mind for all the changes and parsonage that includes all new walls, new furniture, new heating, video that shares the project from the initial upgrades was to provide a safe, efficient proposal through the demolition, renovation water and electrical systems, and an expanded kitchen with new appliances, among other niceties. and welcoming space for ministry to and furnishing. It also shares the names of the happen with a resident pastor and family many people that worked together to make the provided for as well. The original proposal initially had provisions for the parsonage available for a resident pastor and his family. The link for the Swansons to live in the parsonage once complete as they were serving as lay video can be found on the home page of the Alaska Conference website at pastors, leading Sunday School, youth group, men’s and women’s Bible www.alaskacovenant.org. studies and leading the Sunday evening service. The project initially was

In June, the Alaska Conference contributed funding in order to fill a Missionary Aviation Repair Center (MARC) plane with mat erials for finishing the Koyuk renovation. Pictured in front of the plane are project visionary and leader Doug Swanson (of Koyuk); Kyler Schultz, Dwight Wanger and Joel Oyoumic k, of MARC who dedicated three days of intense labor to complete the project that began in 2018. Pastor Don Cross and his family are now settled in the parsonage and enjoyi ng their beautiful home.

From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16

Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 This is a good word, always, for Christ’s church. It teaches us to have a certain mindset, and it is not a mindset of grabbing on to power, but one of humility and serving. As we navigate election season, I believe this is an especially pertinent word for us. Alaska Covenant family, in this difficult season in our country where tensions have run high, I want to point us to the person who is our true King, and Lord. Regardless of whom has been elected president, we are wise to by Curtis Ivanoff, Superintendent consider seriously, how now shall WE live? Biblical scholar and teacher Scot McKnight writes about what a kingdom-of-Jesus ministry is like. After all, the kingdom of God was the focus of Jesus when he walked on this earth. His reign and rule came to bring freedom, new life, the forgiveness of sins and to create a new community, one that you and I belong to here and now. We anticipate the full revelation of that kingdom when Jesus returns. According to McKnight, one of the characteristics of kingdom ministry is that “the cruciform character of King Jesus shapes every dimension of our church.” Those words have been a source of focus and life for me personally in these tumultuous days. Cruciform means to be shaped as a cross. Paul captured what that cruciform character looks like in the verses I shared above, and he also gave instructions for how to live among one another in a way that honors each other: Philippians 2:4-5 exhorts: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” The way of Jesus is the way of humility. The way of Jesus is about honoring others more highly than yourself. The way of Jesus is about loving your neighbor. The way of King Jesus is not to win in the ways the world sees winning. Peter, on the night when Jesus was arrested, took out his sword and cut off the ear of one of those who had come. Jesus was clear and firm, “No more of this!” as Luke recorded in his gospel. In John’s gospel, he explains that Jesus taught his followers that his kingdom was not of this world, and to make this point, he healed the soldiers severed ear. Jesus came to establish his kingdom not through power nor might, but by death on a cross. So as we move forward, I want to encourage you to look out for your neighbors’ interests more than your own. In light of the leadership of our country, may our common fellowship in Jesus be that which helps us to move forward united. Let me encourage you to find ways to serve, even during a pandemic. When we recall the church at her best through the ages, it is so often when it is picking up a towel and basin of water to serve others. Here in Alaska, our church built children’s homes to care for orphans following times of pandemic, where virtually entire communities were wiped out. That is a testament of Christ’s cruciform character. I pray we will be shaped by the character of King Jesus, in these days and always.

A Cruciform Mindset

2 // the Sinew

Alternative Women’s Retreat Overflows to Record Number When the women’s retreat committee decided to cancel the annual statewide retreat out of concern related to COVID-19 cases, plans were made to deliver the retreat in an alternative format. Sharron Carlson of Eagle River Community Covenant Church, who leads the committee, was anticipating 30 or 40 women to request the $15 retreat Annie Woods, of Unalakleet, painted this kits that would be delivered through the reminder of God’s truth as one of the craft mail. However, since September 18, 155 options during the “Overflow” retreat. kits have been sent all throughout Alaska and even some to the lower 48. “This was an amazing task and huge success,” explained Sharron. “The retreat committee really came together with great ideas and hard work. Many women were blessed as a result.” The theme for the retreat, “Overflow” came from Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Pastor Kristi Ivanoff, Marta Muntean (both of Anchorage First Covenant) and Pastor Mary Gandee, of Shaktoolik, each recorded a message on the theme passage. Mitzi Barker, of Eagle River, recorded three spiritual practice videos to provide opportunity for reflection after each session. Denise Koehrer, Mel Trollman, and Helen Hoffman, of Mat-Su Covenant Church recorded several worship songs and hymns. The pre-recorded content was edited and then transferred to thumb drives that were included in a packet that also had three craft activities, a song book, and journal. Kate Cannon was the mastermind behind the three crafts and ordering the materials to make sure each woman would have at their fingertips all that was needed. Julie Stingley of Chugach Covenant, Mitzi Barker and Carla Eisberg of Community Covenant also served on the committee. With the content delivered directly to homes or churches, each person was free to engage with others in ways they were comfortable with or that were in line with their own community COVID guidelines. Nome Covenant, Bethel Evangelical Covenant, Fairbanks Community Covenant, Unalakleet Covenant, and Shaktoolik Covenant women held small group gatherings to experience the sessions together. Some ladies chose to meet with a friend and go away for a retreat weekend to enjoy fellowship and connecting with God and each other. Others chose to be at home and go through the recordings at their own pace. For communities with reliable internet, the recordings were distributed through the conference website and were available for download. Retreat messages can be accessed at www.alaskacovenant.org/overflow-content. See page 8 for more photos.

Tr a n s i t i o n s Katie Lewis, a recent graduate of University of Northwestern St. Paul, is serving Eagle River Community Covenant as the director of high school ministry. Kristi Ivanoff is serving as the associate pastor of families for Anchorage First Covenant Church. She will continue to serve the Alaska Conference part- time as the director of communications and events. Chip (Joanne) Swanson will be serving Elim Covenant Church as interim pastor from January-April. Vince (Laura) Eben will begin serving as the associate pastor of evangelism and mission for Anchorage First Covenant Church in January after completing an interim term pastoring Golovin Covenant Church.

Anti-racism Zoom Cohor t Engages Twenty Pastors by Aune Carlson, Mountain View Hope Covenant Church and Pastor TJ Smith, New Song Covenant Church

Chickaloon Retreat Center

The Chickaloon Retreat Center is an 80-acre property located approximately 75 miles North of Anchorage in the community of Chickaloon. The land was given as a gift to the Covenant Church of Alaska over 20 years ago, with the intention that it be used as a place for people to experience God through his creation. The Alaska Conference granted management and development of the property to Covenant Youth of Alaska a few years ago, and significant improvements have been made since that time including adding a yurt for group gatherings, a bath house with toilets and showers, and most recently, enclosing the covered picnic area. Additionally, there are two dry cabins (maximum capacity of 8 people) and a tenting/RV parking area. Interested in planning a family getaway, church staff development retreat or a youth discipleship gathering? Consider Chickaloon. For more information visit .https://www.cyak.org/chickaloon-retreat-center.html

A cohort of 20 Alaska Conference pastors are gathering once a month on Zoom to talk about a race and racism. Each of the 11 Conferences in the ECC is on an “Anti-racism Pathway” together. More than 450 clergy are connected and involved. There is a pathway for pastors of color, in addition to the pathway for those of European decent. Love Mercy, Do Justice developed the framework within which each group is studying, learning and discussing. The Alaska cohort is led by Aune Carlson and TJ Smith. Both of them have walked for many years in bridging the racial gap. They share their experiences and stories as the cohort grows and walks on this journey together. We believe that this is a topic that the church needs to wrestle through. Far too often, we do not perceive it in our day-to-day lives and context. We, as the church, have not fully acknowledged or grasped the ways we have intentionally, and unintentionally, played a part in the division of people. As we gather each month, the group will be taking a deeper look at a different culture. In September we looked at the Latino community as Latino Heritage month was on the horizon. We employ a myriad of ways to explore what we are learning about, from books, movies, YouTube clips and other formats. For the Alaska cohort, we have contextualized our learning that much more by adding reading about the history of various ethnic and cultural groups in Alaska. For example, did you know that there was a group of Chinese miners that were put in a ship with little or no food and set adrift out of Juneau in the winter, so the white miners could take over their claim? We will be looking at the African American, Asian American, Indigenous, and women’s journeys, as well as looking at how the Doctrine of Discovery played a part in shaping the United States to what we know it to be today. Over the course of this year-long journey together, we will read through and discuss Unsettling Truths by Mark Charles (Dine/Navajo) and Professor Soong Chan-Rah, a 2nd generation Korean-American who teaches at North Park Seminary. The intent of this cohort is to have us each look introspectively to recognize the developed racial/cultural blinders that we each have, in order to more closely reflect the heart of Christ in our relations with each other and people different than us. In our first online gathering, TJ shared about how he knew that he had bias against Asian-Americans, but he did not know why—until talking with his uncle about his grandfather. He discovered that his grandpa was not able to fight in WWII against the Japanese due to being caught with a Japanese firebomb, yet all of his brothers were able to fight. This struggle he had was passed to TJ and so, unknowingly, because of what his grandpa said, TJ picked up a racially biased view of Asian Americans. If you are wanting to join in a similar study, email info@alaskacovenant.org. It is our hearts’ desire to continue this conversation each year with a new cohort.

FALL 2020/ 3

As As the the berries berries filled filled the the tundra tundra inin abundant abundant measure measure this this summer summer and and fall, fall, so so too too has has the the Lord Lord blessed blessed the the Alaska Alaska Conference Conference churches churches with with aa bumper bumper crop crop of of pastors. pastors. Meet Meet some some of of our our new new and and familiar familiar friends friends working working in in the the harvest har vest field field together. together.

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Churches Caring Community Covenant Provides Food-filled Pantry Boxes by Marci Bistodeau, Mission Mobilization Director Eagle River Community Covenant Church

Hooper Bay Parsonage Available For Village Quarantine Needs

The Hooper Bay Covenant Church board has made the church parsonage available to the City of Hooper Bay for quarantine space for residents since late August as a way to support the community during the As the pandemic wears on, keeping tabs on our neighbors is difficult. Knowing who needs help, and how to deliver services safely pandemic. There are four bedrooms in the vacant parsonage that have primarily has been the challenge of helping agencies and of the church. Back in been used to help house individuals who have returned to the village after July, as it became clear that the kids would not be going back to travel and need to quarantine. Given that extended families often live school full-time in August, one of the needs the staff at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River started hearing more about from the together in small spaces, it is difficult to actually quarantine and protect others. The city administration manages the occupancy and has a set of community was that of food and groceries. After looking into what house rules and criteria in placing people there. The city also covers the was available in the community, we became aware of The Children’s expense of utilities. Lunchbox. It is a program of Bean’s Café that provides not only Patrick McLean, who serves on the church board, explained that they prepared lunches, but Pantry Boxes containing shelf-stable food saw this as a good opportunity to serve the community, even though intended to be enough to make two dinners for a family. there has been additional expenses incurred with the type of occupancy According to a representative from Bean’s Café, the program had and needs for maintenance. plenty of capacity to produce the boxes but did not have a distribution site in Eagle River. Community Covenant saw it as an opportunity to help. Several volunteers cooperated to set up a program called Eagle River Grocery Bag. The program is open to anyone, and we distribute boxes and other items on Thursdays between 4 and 6 pm at b y Pa st o r B e n S c hof fm a n n, C h ug a ch Cov en a nt C hu r ch the church. We also have several people willing to make deliveries to C3 Anchorage (Chugach Covenant Church) applied for and received families who cannot get to the church due to work schedules or a Missional Relief Grant from the ECC to help communities affected transportation problems. by COVID-19. The importance of a strong immune system is routinely We have appreciated incredible cooperation from the Alaska Food advocated by the medical community in fighting off illnesses, and of Bank and the Eagle River Food Pantry. They have given us advice, course, the importance of healthy spiritual habits is also vital to moral support, and material support. Because of their generosity, we maintaining spiritual and emotional health. The $5000 grant will be have been able to share fresh fruit and vegetables and some frozen meat, in addition to the pantry items we were planning on. During the added to funds C3 has dedicated to provide resources to improve physical and spiritual immunity and health for C3’s neighbors at Safe first week of the program, approximately 35 families were served. Harbor during Alaska’s cold and flu season. Additionally, we are in the launch phase of a homework help Safe Harbor is a 46-unit transitional housing facility, managed by ministry. We are hoping to be able to match students with adults or RURALCAP, located on Muldoon Road, just a few blocks from C3’s teens who can help with schoolwork for an hour or two each Unity Center. It seeks to provide a safe place for families with children week. We are taking applications now for both volunteers and tutors to escape homelessness by providing lodging for 90-180 days, while and will provide supervised space at the church for the meetings to these families secure stable employment and reinforce healthy lifestyles. take place. C3 is partnering with Safe Harbor’s care coordinators on this “Family The mission of Community Covenant Church is to bring Christ’s Immunity Pack” project. The project will provide important hope, healing, and wholeness to our community and to our information on healthy diets and habits and an initial supply of vitamins world. Donations are being accepted to help buy perishables and that can support a healthy immune system to help resist illness. In other things to supplement the boxes. Visit addition, C3 will encourage “spiritual immunity” by providing a family www.communitycovenant.net or www.eaglerivergrocerybag.com for devotional and spiritual counseling and encouragement. C3 will follow more information. up with participants every month and provide vouchers for additional supplies of vitamins. The project began in October and will continue for six months. Your prayers for a successful relationship and project Safe Harbor is a 46-unit transitional housing facility. are always appreciated.

Missional Relief Grant to C3 for Safe Harbor “Immunity Packs”

6 // the Sinew

In COVID-19 Crisis

Church & Community Step-Up to Rebuild Elder’s House When a Washington-based work team cancelled their trip due to COVID-19 circumstances, Unalakleet Covenant Church and the community responded to help fill the gap and work toward rebuilding Doris Ivanoff’s home that burned down in 2018. “We decided to ‘go local’ focusing more on encouraging people in our church and community to volunteer in different ways,” Pastor Nick Bruckner of Unalakleet Covenant Church explained. “As a result we’ve had a lot more local people involved.” In late August, with winter chill in sight, the church committed funds to purchase materials to fix the floor and put up walls. Individuals in the church and community were also encouraged to give. The response was encouraging as they raised enough money to purchase the roofing lumber and metal sheeting, as well. Pastor Nick began to set aside time here and there to work and would send out an announcement on Facebook. “Usually, I did not

know what would get done or who would come, but people showed up. Sometimes someone would drive by and see an elder and teenager working with me and then pull over to help out too. Then some ladies would see us working and bring us snacks. Others would stop by the store and bring us chips and water,” Pastor Nick shared. “It was so good to see generosity flow into more generosity.” On October 17, more than ten people showed up to put the plywood on the roof to enclose the structure. The next morning, the village woke to a fresh blanket of snow, though it had not been forecasted. The home had been enclosed just in time. When asked about what comes next in the project, Pastor Nick said: “There’s not really a strategic plan or endgame. We are just taking it as it comes. We see God provide in different ways as we go along.” If you are interested in how you can contribute to this work, feel free to reach out to Pastor Nick at unkpastor@gmail.com.

“Open Table” Community Meal Ministry Offers Take-Out

When COVID-19 concerns caused large group gatherings to cease for a while, the Unalakleet Covenant Church opted to change the delivery style of their community dinners, rather than cancel all together. The “Open Table” meals, prior to COVID-19, were a monthly meal prepared by church volunteers that were served at the community hall for anyone who wanted or needed a warm home-cooked meal. With the pandemic affecting the employment and a bleak commercial fishing season, the needs in Unalakleet were only increasing for food assistance for many families. So near the end of September, the “Open Table” dinners were re-started and offered every other Wednesday as a take-out meal served out of the church. At 6 p.m. on those Wednesday nights, the church parking lot is full of 4 wheelers and trucks as people line up at the church door to request pre-packaged homecooked meals served in cardboard carry-out containers. The main course is purchased using church funds and donations from the Sewing Circle. Volunteers help to Kael Erickson and Olivia Mashiana help cook the main course and bring designated side dishes. Volunteers also assemble the carryout boxes and distribute meal packs for the “Open others help to distribute at the door. Prior to COVID-19, approximately 150 meals were served once a Table” dinner hosted by Unalakleet month. Since September, the number has increased to more than 300 meals served every two weeks. Covenant Church every other Wednesday evening. “I'm so proud of our team of volunteers that works to put this together. Heidi Ivanoff is the primary organizer, and there is an amazing group of volunteers helping in so many ways,” said Pastor Nick.

2020 Pastor/Leader Retreat Goes ZOOM

More than 50 pastors and leaders came together for two partial days of Zoom connection time in October for encouragement hosted by the Alaska Conference. ECC President John Wenrich joined the call on this day to give an update on the larger ministry of the ECC and answer questions from our attendees. Participants worshiped in song together, prayed for one another and shared in small groups. The conference has implemented biweekly check in Zoom meetings and bi-weekly webinars to care and equip ministers serving in our state.

FALL 2020/ 7


Take Hold, Lift Strong, Raise Higgh h


Alaska Conference

of the Evangelical Covenant Church

Ministry Priorities

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thes. 5:17 Executive Board

New Pastors

Remember the women and men who serve on the Pray for the many new pastors serving in our Executive Board. Pray for wisdom and discernment as they churches and their families. Pray also for Pastor seek to lead the conference through oversight and visioning. Chip (Joanne) Swanson who will be serving as an interim Pastor in Elim January-April.

Churches Seeking Pastors

• Golovin Covenant Church • White Mountain Covenant Church • Mekoryuk Covenant Church • Elim Covenant Church • Hooper Bay Covenant Church

Alaska Conference Staff

Pray for Superintendent Curtis (Kristi) Ivanoff, Associate Superintendent Brian (Jaime) Nanninga, Qaanaaq Jackson, and Rebecca Gramm and their families.

COVID-19 Concerns

We remember the ongoing struggle all of our communities are facing with the current pandemic. Pray for pastors as they navigate decisions with their congregations and caring for the sick. Pray for village churches as case numbers increase with less access to healthcare. Pray also for creative ideas for our churches to engage in their communities through these unique circumstances.

Church Board Leadership

Pray for church governance boards as they navigate difficult decisions. May our churches strive for unity and love for one another and the Lord.

Alaska Christian College

Pray for students to finish the semester strongly. Pray also for their health and well-being as they travel back home and that they would have resources and encouragement to return for the Spring semester.

Church Infrastructure Needs

Several of our church buildings and parsonages need renovation or upgrades for safe use. Pray for funding sources and laborers for the tasks. We are also looking for ways to assist churches in attaining equipment and internet access necessary to be connected in this increasing digital age.

Start & strengthen churches Make & deepen disciples Develop leaders Love mercy, do justice Serve globally Superintendent: Curtis Ivanoff curtis@alaskacovenant.org Associate Superintendent Brian Nanninga brian@alaskacovenant.org Office Manager Qaanaaq Jackson info@alaskacovenant.org Financial Assistant Rebecca Gramm Communication/Events Kristi Ivanoff kristi@alaskacovenant.org P.O. Box 200446 Anchorage, AK 99520 Office: 907-222-6348 Fax: 907-222-6390 e-mail info@alaskacovenant.org

Left: Shaktoolik women gathered and enjoyed women’s retreat materials together. Painting rocks with verse references was one of three craft activities included. Above: C3 Fairbanks women were another church that held their own mini retreat with the Overflow kits sent to them. See page 2 for story.

website www.alaskacovenant.org

Donations to the Alaska Conference are tax-deductible and may be made online or mailed to the office directly.

Profile for Alaska Conference Publications

Sinew Fall 2020  

This issue features the many new pastors that have accepted calls in our churches in recent months, as well as how our churches and ministri...

Sinew Fall 2020  

This issue features the many new pastors that have accepted calls in our churches in recent months, as well as how our churches and ministri...