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May/June 2013

theSinew 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 NIV)

“True North Award” Given to First Recipients Richard “Dick” Nelson of First Covenant Church, Rockford, IL, was surprised at an April ACC fundraiser when Keith Hamilton, ACC president, awarded him ECCAK’s True North Award. This award, that was established at the January 2012 ECCAK General Council meeting, to recognize those who have invested heavily in Alaska, though do not reside in Alaska. “The intent of the award is to thank, honor and recognize those who have had lengthy and faithful contribution to the work of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Alaska through their skills of construction, church ministry or mission trips,” explained Curtis Ivanoff, ECCAK field director. Dick, age 85, has spent half of his life serving as a volunteer in Alaska. His first trip to Alaska was to Nome in 1972 and he has rarely, if ever, missed a year serving with his project management and construction experience. Rosie, his wife of 60 years, has also served alongside Dick in Alaska and supports him with prayers when she stays behind. Keith Hamilton, who originally proposed such an award to the General Council, said, “He has been involved in projects all across ECCAK, most recently at Alaska Christian College where he was the project manager for the women's dormitory and Peninsula Conference Center, among dozens of remodeling projects on the campus.” Nominations for the award can be made by members of Alaska Covenant churches or ECCAK ministries and are submitted to the ECCAK Field Director, to whom has also been granted liberty to identify worthy recipients.

Jim Ramsey of Arvada Covenant Church was awarded the True North Award posthumously in March during his memorial service for his many years of service as a volunteer electrician at ACC and in numerous Covenant village churches and parsonages. Jim died at age 76 from heart failure in Nome where he had been serving Pastor Harvey and Nancy Fiskeaux in the electrical work on their home. “Jim was soft, sweet and genuinely devout in his faith and love for the Lord,” Harvey said. “We wept and cried out to God when he was struggling in the ER room in Nome on a Saturday evening after Jim had worked hard all day. Little did any one but God know that this mission assignment in Alaska was to be his last. We join the heavenly chorus: ‘Well done good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of our Lord.’ ”

Remembering Importance of Supporting Leadership by Curtis Ivanoff, Field Director

Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Scripture shows us the significance of having leadership that serves with integrity, skill and conviction. This verse is also the basis for one of the ten healthy missional markers—a culture of Godly leadership—that we aim to achieve. Drawing not only from this passage, but from the whole of scripture, we would do well to pray for our leaders—and from my vantage point—offer opportunity to grow and become more equipped. Leadership is a vital part of the life of a church. In the Covenant, one of the groups that is charged with leadership is the church board, or leadership team. If you have read the Sinew over the last months, you have heard about the training opportunity that ECCAK is providing called Western Alaska Ministry Training (WAMT). In addition to providing a pathway to ordination, the program will provide opportunities for lay church members in ministry Mountain Village pastor Don Cross and board members received training from ECCAK associate director James Barefoot to learn about how to effectively serve as a board guided by scriptural wisdom for purposeful structure.

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leadership. Recently we have recognized that it would serve our churches well to have training specifically for those who serve on the church board. So, in April, James Barefoot, associate field director, traveled to Scammon Bay and led a training session for lower Yukon churches. The feedback was very positive as the training was an encouragement to those who participated. There was discussion about constitution and bylaws, but the heart of the training was focused on what the Bible teaches about the church, the members, and our call to serve as the body of Christ. Although, constitutions and bylaws will not “win the day”, scriptural structure gives us wise guidance. What is of greater significance The Evangelical is leadership that is Covenant Church of Alaska willing to learn and [ECCAK] is a non-conference grow in the grace “field” of the Covenant of God to have a Church of America, dependent culture of Godly on the gifts from churches and people to carry out our misleadership in our sion for Christ’s sake in churches. May we Alaska. humbly allow God Ministry Priorities to shape us and our Pastoral Care churches. Youth Ministry Leadership Pathways Congregational Vitality Church Planting Field Director: Curtis Ivanoff Associate Field Director: James Barefoot Office Manager: Sara Scoles 907.694.6378 Sinew Editor Kristi Ivanoff

Life Transforming Walk with Jesus by Erika Whittington, Prayer & Discipleship Pastor, Community Covenant Church, Eagle River

The summer of 1997 found Rather than being driven to Healthy me as a recent college gradusucceed at any cost,—to Congregations achieve my goals regardless of ate whose study and selfdetermination had set a the price to my family or marMissional course that I was hoping riage—my heart was being Marker #4 would lead me to a job as an transformed. I began to deundercover drug agent for the velop an understanding of what Just as a tripod is a trail-marker guiding a federal Drug Enforcement John the Baptist speaks of in traveler’s journey, this series explores Agency. As new wife and John 3:30, “He must become missional markers to guide us in our mother, I dug deeply into greater; I must become less.” journey toward healthy church life. scripture, searching for truth The call of every believer is to and life in what seemed a become less, that He may bemundane and barren existence despite my education come more. and family. Many different circumstances in my life caused In John 3:3 Jesus explains to Nicodemus, the me to abandon the idea of becoming a law enforcePharisee, that “no one may see the Kingdom of God ment officer, and for years I questioned whether or unless they are born again.” Just like Nicodemus, I not that had simply been a wasted selfish ambition. had no idea what saying yes to Christ would mean God gave me a big part of my answer in the fall of for me in my every day life. It never occurred to me 2011 when I received a phone call from a chaplain that this new birth of spirit would be an invitation to at Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River. align my vision, my life and ambitions with the viI was being invited to teach a class to inmates sion and heart of God and His Kingdom. that were a part of a faith based discipleship proThe church provided opportunities for me to be gram sponsored by Alaska Correctional Ministries. mentored by more mature believers whose lives Since the majority of the women in the program were lived out in humble submission to Christ and were new believers, the focus of the class would be His call to others. teaching them how to pray and develop their relaAs my journey continued, I struggled to seek God tionship with Christ through prayer. As I hung up through prayer and study. Even then, the faith comthe phone, I realized I would be teaching and intermunities that I was a part of continually encouraged acting with exactly the type of people that I had and challenged me to look beyond myself by prohoped to catch and punish so many years ago. Had viding opportunities to serve in areas that were well Christ transformed my heart enough to be able to out of my comfort zone, allowing me to see the face not only teach them but also serve them as fellow of God in those I would have normally ignored. sisters in Christ? Yes! As I joined 28 women These experiences began to reshape the vision and dressed in prison yellow singing, praising and praypurpose for my life. ing I had an incredible glimpse of the transforming power of our God.

Coming soon...the Sinew to get a facelift as ECCAK goes “greener” In order to be more efficient with communication, environmentally responsible and financially conservative, the Sinew will be published quarterly, rather than bi-monthly. In addition, it will have a new look. If you would like to receive the Sinew electronically, email us at May/June 2013// 3

Lower Yukon Gathering Focuses on New Life in Christ By Carolyn Utteryuk, Scammon Bay

One of the things we all desire to see in a pership with Christ. You have to want to change, adson, or in something, is a promising change. I mitting that you need change. We will change when don’t think anyone would disagree with me. We Christ comes in us.” Having become that new perrejoice when there is change and we become a son that you are now, you should have a new pernew person from spective and hope in life I was greatly encouraged by attending the conference. There is within. because you have Christ something very good about meeting new people who share the During the Lower in you. same faith in Christ. It was a ‘time of refreshing’ for me and Yukon Conference It was nice to hear the helped connect me with fellow believers who are also in the challenge of walking out their faith, and called to do His work. held in Scammon songs shared by the peo—Pastor Don Cross, Mountain Village ple from Anchorage, Bay in April, 2 Corinthians 5:17 was Bethel, Hooper Bay, Methe theme verse. This koryuk, Mtn. Village, and Scammon Bay. It was same verse was shared a couple of years back and also nice to hear the children of Scammon Bay and I think we all needed to hear that again: “…if the young people of Hooper Bay share their songs. anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old One thing I hope the people were reminded of things passed away; behold new things have during and after the conference was to glorify our come.” Lord God in Heaven and to make that step to truly One of the pastors shared, “People need more become “ambassadors for Christ” because they than change of scenery, they need that relationhave become a new person. Youth and young adults from Hooper Bay share in song during the conference held in Scammon Bay in April.

Thanks go out to nine Alaska ministries that participated in the February outreach for Congo hospitals hosted by the Covenant Women. The state-wide effort resulted in 357 rolls of bandages, 44 baby layettes, 17 pairs of eye glasses and $675 raised for postage and customs. 4 //ECCAK Sinew

We rejoice with Elim Covenant Church on their 100th Anniversary!

James Barefoot: Servant and Guide to Many by Kristi Ivanoff, Sinew Editor

A day in the life of James seemed that his vision would silla.” James said. “I wondered Barefoot, ECCAK associate not be realized when he comhow living on the road system director, hosts a wide range of pletely lost his hearing. He could lead to serving village important, yet often unusual “dropped out of ministry” and pastors, but we moved, trusting assignments for a pastor. God moved his family to Nome to God.” has lead him on an inspiring work in a “secular” accounting Within a short time, Rodney journey to this call. job that did not require hearing Sawyer, ECCAK field director “I came to Alaska in 1968 as a to be effective. What seemed as asked James to finish Nathan teen with my parents from Toots’ term as associate Kansas City, “ James exdirector in 2009 and plained. “I became a village commissioned him to youth pastor in 1978 in Noorwork primarily with six vik, which eventually led into newer village pastors, a senior pastor position in mentoring them and Noorvik and Buckland—17 caring for their unique years of ministry in all.” needs. He has continued While serving as a young in that position under pastor, James recalls feeling new field director, Curlike he did not have someone tis Ivanoff, fulfilling his who understood his situation call to care for village to give advice for circumpastors with whatever stances in ministry. From this needs they have. frustration, God grew a desire The Golovin sanctuary was temporarily transformed into a “James knows that and call for him to help new shop while James gave Pastor Brad Olson sled-building building relationships is pastors adjust to the lifestyle lessons as part as his pastoral care and mentorship. important, so he spends and challenges of ministering a lot of time on the in rural places—often crossa “hope deferred” actually phone with pastors weekly to culturally. turned into a miraculous restocheck in and primarily listen,” “It can be difficult as a village ration. Curtis said. “He is a constant pastor because, in many cases, “After working three months encouragement and mentor to you pastor the only church in at this job, the insurance beneme with his experience pastortown so you are called on to fits paid for a $40,000 surgery ing in rural Alaska and his handle most of the communiand God restored my hearing.” training in “secular” work.” ties’ crises—injuries, funerals, James recounted fondly. “It was Beyond phone conversations, family traumas for the whole in Nome that I was introduced James visits the pastors, mostly community, not just regular to the Covenant Church. God in the winter when he can snow church attenders,” he explained. ministered to my family and my machine to them. “If there are people who don’t own walk with the Lord, pre“I raised money to purchase a like you for whatever reason, paring for what I’d do next.” snow machine that I can use to you see your ‘enemies’ every “I still felt called to minister to visit the pastors for a fraction of day. This is very stressful.” village pastors, so it was conthe expense it would be to fly.” Though James’ desire was fusing when I strongly sensed He has made three trips this strong to serve rural pastors, it God calling us to move to Wa(Continued on page 11) May/June 2013// 5

May ECCAK Prayer Calendar ·


Lauren Ernst Dir. of Communication · · CYAK, Wasilla ·


Bible Camp Staff Unalakleet

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Phil and Kate Cannon · Associate Pastor Anchorage First Cov. ·


James and Rachel Ventress · CYAK · Nome




New Song Covenant Church Anchorage Jenni Jobe CYAK/Arigaa Anchorage David Rurik CYAK/Arigaa Anchorage

That I will trust that the Lord will provide support as I continue working with CYAK Prayer for discernment and peace about all things in the future Prayer for a great summer for Bible Camp, CYAK interns, and other CYAK youth events coming up For director Nick Bruckner and wife Nikki as Nick serves his first summer as camp director; for wisdom in having healthy boundaries related to work, family and rest For health, safety and a willing attitude for volunteers and staff who will be helping set up camp and serving this summer That Phil’s week with Madeline at Bible Camp will be a blessing to share together and for safe travels Transition for youth ministry at church as our youth pastor leaves For our household—that God would help us discern who he is calling us to be in this next season of life


For a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery for our first child due in October. That Nome youth who come to our home Bible study would know Christ and grow in their knowledge of His Word That we would reach full personal ministry support and funding

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For Pastor TJ and Polly Smith as they serve wholeheartedly That God would call a pianist and a youth worker to New Song Growth in depth and width as a church and in vision for how to serve God and others from new facilities

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Continued growth into who I am called to be in ministry Provision of a more permanent place to live in Anchorage Arigaa: ANC community would “know God better, know the hope to which we are called, and the incomparably great power for us who believe” from our study in Ephesians 1:15-23


Smooth transition as I move from Gig Harbor, WA to Anchorage and into full-time CYAK ministry. Travel mercies while driving up to Alaska June 8-15 For the young adult men's ministry house and discernment for CYAK/Arigaa staff in how to make it a reality

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Prayer Calendar · · · · · · ·

Wisdom in how to best provide administrative structure to CYAK Encouragement and effectiveness in personal fundraising Peace in daily life and relationships

June SUN

Protection for campers and staff in traveling, serving and encountering Christ in a powerful way Surrender of hearts & lives to Christ as they experience his love MON Healing for those grieving and wounded

Kara Bladel CYAK Operations Dir. Wasilla

Bible Camp Staff and Campers

For students as they go to summer homes and jobs; that they will be encouraged to find spiritual fellowship there God would call many from Alaska to attend in the fall and for guidance for staff as they connect with prospective students For open staffing needs and refreshment for current staff


Alaska Christian College Soldotna

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For continued joy and peace in serving KICY For more volunteers for the station to help in serving western Alaskan communities


Lon Swanson KICY Nome


For Logan (13), who suffers from severe to moderate autism. that God would keep him calm and safe as Donna volunteers and occasionally travels for ECCAK General Council For Jeff and Donna's home to be experienced as a safe place for youth to hang out and feel loved


Donna and Jeff Erickson Unalakleet


Bob Curtis Pastor Elim


Brad and Roxi Bergfalk Eagle River Interim Pastor

· ·

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Strength and protection for new converts both young and old For Koyuk youth leaders: John & Beda Prentice and Eric Swanson; for Travis Ransom, Koyuk's new VPSO/adult SS teacher

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Wisdom to lead well through pastoral transition Care and protection for children who live outside, especially our high school student God's guidance for the next place on our journey


Unalakleet College Student Serves in India by Tricia Ivanoff (Unalakleet), North Park University student

Over Spring Break, I had the amazing opportunity to serve in New Delhi, India along with 17 others from North Park University, thanks to the support from ECCAK and others who helped to fund my trip. We partnered with an organization in India called Truthseekers International. This organization seeks justice and reconciliation within the caste system and promotes social freedom for some of the most oppressed people on earth. The caste system has been a form of oppression for the past 3,000 years and is technically outlawed but is still prevalent within society today. It continues to affect lower castes (the Shudra, or other backward caste or OBC and the Dalits or the untouchables) which make up most of India's population and generally include darker-skinned people. They are treated terribly by the three upper castes (Brahman, Kshatriya, and Vaishya) who generally have lighter skin and are usually racist towards darker skinned individuals. Hinduism teaches that one can only move up the caste system through reincarnation if they were good in their past life, thereby perpetuating the unjust caste system. Truthseekers holds foot-washing rallies in March and November of each year in different OBC villages and communities throughout India to expose lies that oppress them. Hundreds of people attend these rallies. The North Park team and I participated in five foot-washing 8 //ECCAK Sinew

“The Lord works righteousness Brahmans asked Vishnu if they could kill Baliraja beand justice for all the cause Baliraja promoted equaloppressed.” ity and said there was no caste system in his kingdom. The Psalm 103:6 Brahmans objected to this teaching They petitioned Vishnu, the Hindu “supreme rallies during our time in India. god” who agreed to deceive At these rallies, Truthseekers Baliraja to destroy the people use the Hindu story of Baliraja as springboard to reveal the truth of his kingdom. Just as Vishnu was going to “step” on the about Jesus. In the Hindu faith people, Baliraja intervened Baliraja is known as the (Continued on page 11) “sacrificed king” who saved India. As their story goes, the

Tricia Ivanoff, North Park student from Unalakleet, shares the love of God with lower caste individuals at a foot-washing rally in India.

ACC Students Grow While Serving Together By Leiscia Chadwick, Alaska Christian College student

Our time in Ensenada, Mexico is one that we will all remember for a very long time. Getting the opportunity to serve as a team brought all of us closer together as we had one purpose for being there: to serve God. One of the most meaningful things we got to witness was a group of high school students coming together to help others and praise God in Jesus ' name. The speaker that we had left an impression on all of us,

as he was telling us of his life —it just seemed so rough. We wondered how he could ever recover from what he went through, but he told us that his heavenly father was there to fix things. A quote that he used was one that his daughter would say, "No problem, daddy fix this." He used that quote to tie in how we should rely on God because he can fix anything as long as we put our faith and trust in him.

ACC students served 6 days in Ensenada, Mexico, alongside Azusa Pacific University’s outreach program. The students worked 5 a.m.-10 p.m. daily preparing and serving over 1,800 meals. They also led nightly in worship services in Mexico and then four services in San Diego-area churches. The team was: Clyde Morry, Anaktuvuk Pass; Alice Nanuk, Hooper Bay; Leiscia Chadwick, St. Petersburg, Florida; Kaylin Kopp, Galena; Darren Petla and Heidi Chiklak, Dillingham; Keith and Debbie Hamilton, Soldotna. ECCAK, along with others, provided funding for the students’ trip.

May 1-5 May 5 May 6-10

Important Dates

ECCAK Annual Meeting —Mekoryuk, AK Alaska Christian College Commencement, Soldotna, AK Western Alaska Ministry Training (WAMT) class: Survey of the Old Testament — Bethel, AK

Bible Camp Sessions (for more information go to May 24-28 Call to Worship (staff training) June 22-26 Pathfinders (3/4th completed) May 29-June 3 Leadership Camp (ages 15-25) June 29– Jul 10 CYIA Training (7-12th completed) June 3-10 High School (9-12th completed) July 20-31 Paul Johnson Shop Construction June 11-17 Junior High (7/8th completed) August 2-5 CYAK Team Retreat June 18-22 Trailblazers (5/6th completed) August 6-11 Vision (18-25) August 15-18 Sept. 20-22

Triennial Women’s Conference—San Diego, CA Covenant Women’s Retreat—Willow, AK

May/June 2013// 9

New Elim Pastor to Serve to Help Church Reach Potential By Kristi Ivanoff, Sinew editor

Elim Covenant Church has called a new pastor to serve their congregation and community. Bob Curtis will begin serving as the full-time pastor this summer in Elim, where he served as an interim pastor for a few months last year. Bob has previously served as interim pastor in Upper Kalskag, Kotzebue, and most recently Koyuk. Curtis Ivanoff, ECCAK field director said, "Bob has been so joyful in his willingness to serve in two recent interim pastor roles. I have appreciated the way he has entered into each community to give and to preach the Word of truth. I anticipate that Bob will have a fruitful ministry in Elim.” Originally from Noorvik, the son of Robert and Esther Curtis, Bob grew up in Kiana, a village in northwest Alaska on the Kobuk river. He responded to need for a

savior at the age of nine. “Southern Baptist missionary Harley Shield preached on the scripture Rev. 3:20, and I responded,” Bob explained. “I wandered from the Lord as a young man and returned to father’s arms bruised and battered as prodigal son in my 20s.” Bob credits his return to faith as the result of “much prayer of my mother and loved ones” and different life circumstances that caused him to be aware of his desperate need for not only a savior, but for God’s guidance for living this life. “Though I had gone my own way, the Lord had never left me,“ Bob said. Long-time friend David Miller, director of the Friends Bible School in Kotzebue, would often remind Bob of God’s call on his life. Eventually he attended the training for three years earning a certificate in Biblical Studies & Principles in ‘95. (Continued on page 11)

Summer outreach: “River Life” on Kenai Peninsula by Pastor Frank Alioto, The River Covenant Church, Kenai

This summer the River Covenant Church in Kenai will be providing opportunities for families to connect together on the Kenai Peninsula by taking advantage of the many recreational opportunities right at our doorstep. We are planning times for people to gather and invite their friends to informal “RIVER LIFE” events— like a weekly beach bonfire, fishing adventures, or a service outreach. The goal is to have different hosts for each event who will work on the details and logistics of the event and then to schedule them throughout the summer so people have something to look forward to each 10 //ECCAK Sinew

week. Someone may share a testimony or devotion during the outing, and we will use these opportunities to invite people to our Sunday gatherings or Vacation Bible School. At our Sunday morning church gatherings, we will be having monthly “Pancake Sundays” when we will enjoy some extra flavor to our times of fellowship. We pray these events will help us live out our mission to “Overflow with Christ, Community, and Calling.” If you are in town come join us! Find Kids and adults will be in for some fun at summer “River out what is going on and when at Live” events hosted by the River or on Covenant Church on the Kenai our Facebook page: The River CovePeninsula. nant Church.

Ministry to pastors (Continued from page 5)

In recent trips, he has led church board members through training on strengthening churches through board structure. All these things are essential aspects to James’ ministry. James is grateful for his wife of 37 -years who serves as a kindergarten teacher. “Evelyn and I are truly a team. She believes in this ministry and willingly puts up with me being gone for long periods of time and prays for me.” James has two grown children and two grandchildren.

New Pastor for Elim (Continued from page 10)

James recently spent time with church board members Maggie Olson of Golovin and Peter Buck of White Mountain to share on developing church leadership structures in village churches.

winter—two to Norton Sound and one to the YK Delta. Along with encouragement, James usually delivers requested supplies for repairs or things that are not easily acquired in the villages. He often takes one pastor to visit another in a neighboring village or does something recreational like hunting or taking them out to learn and experience the area. “One thing that I really appreciate about James is his willingness to share knowledge about staying safe while traveling by snowmachine,” Pastor Brad Olson of Golovin said. “Even though he has years of experience, he is still teachable himself, and listens to the wise council of elders.”

After serving in the Assembly of God church, Bob entered service in the Covenant church when he interviewed with Covenant mission organization Merge Ministries. “James Barefoot, Byron Bruckner and Rodney Sawyer interviewed me,” Bob explained. “Being connected with these leaders helped me to further discern and realize God’s call for the next season of ministry.” Working with Merge, he conducted cross cultural courses and hosted mission teams who served in Mountain Village and Bethel. Bob expressed, “I am very excited to return to Elim and serve the church with the desire to edify the body of Christ to its full potential in Christ.”

Ministry in India (Continued from page 8)

and Vishnu stepped on his head sending Baliraja to the underworld. Thus, he saved the people

of India. Truthseekers explains that Baliraja is Jesus and that the “sacrificed king” will one day come and the people of India will be set free as he restores his kingdom. Phule, an Indian scholar from the 1800s, made that connection and prophesied that one day westerners would preach about Baliraja. After sharing teaching at the rallies, Indian women and men were invited to come up to get their feet washed by us. We then shared a meal together with members of the community. Not many of the lower caste have ever come into contact with or ever seen an American, and allowing an upper-caste person wash their feet is quite scandalous, as they believe it may prevent them from attaining to a higher caste in their next life. However, through these footwashings, we were able to dignify each person whose feet we washed as well as show Baliraja's love for his people. Each act was a step in liberating these beautiful people from the immense amount of oppression they experience daily. God is at work in India. He has shown me that He is hard at work to free His people from oppression, and the caste system will one day be no more. That is the hope that I have because, in Christ, anything is possible. We’re on the web May/June 2013// 11

Newsletter Title Page 12

Mail to “IN-IT TOGETHER” recipient:

NONPROFIT ORG U.S. POSTAGE PAID ANCHORAGE, AK PERMIT NO. 537 Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska

P.O. Box 770749 Eagle River, AK 99577

Phone: 907-694-6348 Fax: 907- 694-6378 E-mail:

Koyuk-Shaktoolik Get Together March 29-31, 2013

Koyuk singers; Joel and Olga Oyoumick; Daniel Soxie, Abraham and Jesse Anasogak, Rick and Laura Nassuk

the ECCAK Sinew--May/June 2013  

May/June 2013 Sinew

the ECCAK Sinew--May/June 2013  

May/June 2013 Sinew