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Summer 2014

Raising “New Sails” for Alaska Covenant Church by Curtis Ivanoff, Field Director

The work of the Covenant Church in hope may soon become a reality as the ECC has initiated a process for Alaska has a rich history, one that re- ECCAK to become a conference. When that happens, my title will minds us of God’s faithfulness and of change to “Superintendent”, reflective of the organizational change. the transforming power of the gospel. The other regional conferences in the lower-48 have this leadership Today we are living and serving in a time title. I have been included as a colleague with the other superintendents here in Alaska where one chapter is already, and I meet with them three times a year for fellowship, encourabout to end and a new one begin. The agement and discerning God’s movement for the larger work of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) has initiated movement for EC- Covenant. CAK to change its status from a mission field to becoming a newly There have been many pastors and leaders over these decades that established conference. This will be a momentous benchhad desire for this move to become a reality. I bemark, and I think it is helpful to look back to better unlieve it is a Spirit-led affirmation of confidence and “Let us prepare derstand the significance of this shift. respect by the denomination. In my conversations ourselves, by I currently serve as ECCAK’s “Field Director”. This with ECC leaders, the message I have received position title is rooted in history and reflective of the "We recognize that who better to lead and stewputting up new is, relationship between the Alaska ministries and the naard the work in Alaska than Alaskans." tional denomination, headquartered in Chicago, IL. Until What would this change mean for us in Alaska? sails so that we 1972, the work of the Covenant Church in Alaska was a On the surface, the work would continue on withcan catch what ministry of the ECC World Mission department. In other out things looking strikingly different. Things like words, the work in Alaska was in the same category as God will give us Norton Sound Easter get-togethers, Lower Yukon work in Japan or the Congo, even though we were one of Conference, and any other regional or localized and move the fifty states of the U.S. of A. The group that lead the events will continue on. But there is an organizationwork here was known as the Covenant Mission Council al shift that, in my mind, calls us all to step up to forward.” of Alaska, largely comprised of the missionaries who had steward the work in Alaska in deeper ways. All decimoved from out of state to serve in Alaska. You can see sion making and responsibility for the ministry in from that name how there was a sense of Alaska being a Alaska would be in our hands. That does not mean mission field. that the ECC or ECCAK would be distancing our relationship. We Things shifted in 1972 when the Covenant work in Alaska was would be connected in mission and in relationship as we have always moved from World Mission to Home Mission, and in 1973 ECCAK as been. However, we will be a self-governing entity rather than having we know it was formed. The name “Field Director” was given to the oversight from the Dept. of Church Growth and Evangelism. person who would oversee the work of the Alaska field. Being a financially self-supporting entity has been a key benchmark in One of the reasons for the shift was the hope and goal that the minis- order to become a conference, one that we have yet to reach. As retry in Alaska would one day become a self-governing conference. That (Continued on page 2)

Photo from Smithsonian Institute Alaska Native Collections: Umiat–skin-covered boats used for whaling–under sail off Point Barrow in 1921. Arthur Hansin Eide, Eide Collection; Anchorage Museum, B70.28.200.

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

“New Sails” continued

Missional Marker #8

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cently as 1978, the work in Alaska comprised nearly half of the budget of Home Mission! Things have changed quite significantly in recent years, though we still receive appropriations to supplement ministry expenses. No doubt we will continue to pursue the goal of supporting our ministry with our own Godgive resources. Until that time, the ECC will continue to assist the work in Alaska financially and in other ways as we mature in our standing as a conference. Over the next months, prior to our annual meeting, you have opportunity to engage in this important process. Here is a sketch of what the steps will be: 1.

Read and review the conference constitution draft. Between now the next annual meeting in March of 2015, you are invited to review the proposed constitution that is more extensive than our current one. The ECC requires a oneyear review so churches and individuals may give necessary input. Please send comments, suggestions, and questions about the process and/or the proposed cconstitution to


The delegates of the 2015 ECCAK annual meeting will vote to adopt the constitution. Amendments can be made between now and then and the General Council will be having ongoing discussion regarding any that may surface.


ECC executive board votes to approve ECCAK becoming a conference. After an affirmative vote at the annual meeting, a vote for confirmation will occur.


Name the conference contest! ECCAK is soliciting name ideas for the new conference until October 10, 2014. Names that have been suggested so far include “Alaska Conference”, “Denali Conference”, “Arctic Conference”, and “Arctic Circumpolar Conference”. your input is valued as a name is important. You may email our office or submit an idea on our website.

This is an exciting time for the Covenant in Alaska. The work does not rest on our ideas or strategies, but rather, like the word of the Lord to his people through his prophet Zechariah, “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.’ ” (Zech. 4:6) We rejoice in what God is doing in Alaska. It is God’s ongoing story that is unfolding, and we are the characters in a new chapter being written. We were exhorted by Pastor Joel Oyoumick at the annual meeting, “Let us prepare ourselves, by putting up new sails so that we can catch what God will give us and move forward.” I like that. Time to put up new sails, ECCAK.

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Intentional Evangelism By Jamie Rose, Covenant Youth of Alaska

God has long chosen his people to evangelize, to bear the good news of his great love to those who are far off. Yet, sin remains a component of the church’s life in this present age, Just as a tripod is a and Satan works to sideline us from God’s co-mission for us. trailmarker guiding a God has qualified you to share the gospel, do not sit this one traveler’s journey, this out! Are you within the family of God as a beloved, redeemed, column series explores saved, called, and cherished daughter or son of the Most High missional markers to God? Is your Father the King of Kings, Creator of the heavens guide us in our journey and earth, Redeemer of the world, the God who sees you? If toward healthy, so, it is because he sent his Son: the Lamb of God, the Word missional churches. made flesh, the Messiah, God with us, our Lord and brother Jesus. Praise him! Let the Holy Spirit confirm in you the love the Father has lavished on us. Ask him, would he really call us the children of God? That is what we are! There is good news. Though you were once an enemy of God, you are brought near and counted within God’s household. You have an opportunity to serve God, not as slaves, but as children with an inheritance, and even co-heirs with Christ! I have been brought into God’s family through the witness of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska. For much of my life I have heard Jesus’ directive in Matthew 28 to “Therefore go and make disciples… baptizing and teaching them to obey…” Hearing that commission and reading the fruitful accounts of New Testament ministry I often consider the “harvesting” in my life lacking. I have often felt this commission of evangelism as a heavy burden. I’ve sought to carry it, struggled, and then entered into seasons of dormancy frustrated and confused. As I have served on CYAK staff in Anchorage with our young adult ministry Arigaa God continues to correct me in my understanding of what evangelism is. We are to let our passion for evangelism be born out of God’s own heart for all people. In Isaiah 43 we can hear God’s heart beat: Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. ” (Isa 43:5-7) Your neighbor, friend, and family members were formed and made by God for his glory! Do they know that? We know so many that do not. Though they have eyes, they are blind; they have ears but are deaf. We who have seen and heard are charged by God to bring them near. God desires our brethren here so much, “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up.’ ” Just as Jesus assured his disciples of his constant companionship, God here assures us, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Isa 43:5). “You are my witnesses, ” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen” (Isa 43:10). Someone you know lives in great darkness. You have the light of the world, “I am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior…You are my witnesses that I am God” (Isa 43:11-12). Let your evangelism be out of God’s love for you and all his people. First let God’s Spirit bear witness within you of his great love for you. Then let his Word show you his great love for all his people. Then let your life and words together bring witness to others of his love in Jesus Christ. Baptize and teach obedience, but let God be concerned about the harvest. “No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” (Isa 43:13). Has the LORD revealed himself to you as mighty Savior in your life? He who has qualified you says, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth!” Check out ECC resources for your church or Bible study in the area of evangelism at:

Veritas Seminar Gets Rave Reviews in Eagle River “As members of our youth group, we were invited and encouraged to be a part of this process. With our leader in transition, this is a good time to grow as a healthy, missional youth group. We look forward to seeing God use this process in our church.”

“John Wenrich is the kind of presenter that can hold your attention for hours! It was very interesting and practical.”

— Pastor Keith Bergstrom

“I was very encouraged by the material presented and the response of those in attendance. There seemed to be a overall desire for growth and change by the participants. I felt very ‘alive’ from an overall hope for the future when I left.”

—Nathaniel and Peter Swanberg

“I was very encouraged by the Veritas meeting. It left me pumped full of excitement in striving towards being a missional church. I learned several things, one of which is that not one person is too small to make a difference in how our church grows.”

—Sandy Gold

I thought the Veritas workshop was incredibly important and helpful in inspiring churches to self assess and move towards becoming healthy missional churches. Every church has areas that could use some nurturing and growth, new dreams and visions, so it is encouraging to see churches in Alaska that are passionate about this, and ultimately passionate about Jesus. We (the Bethel Evangelical Covenant Church) were so thankful to be invited and are looking forward to see how God will use what we learned in our church.

—Aaron Anderson

—Maddie Barnlund

Eagle River Community Covenant Church hosted the Veritas seminar in May as the first in a series of workshops the congregation will be going through in the congregational vitality pathway offered by the ECC’s Department of Church Growth and Evangelism. CCC is the second Alaskan church to host the seminar. Participants learned and discussed what it means for a church to be healthy and missional and examine their church in light of a common understanding and vocabulary.

The message John brought and the 'path of vitality' upon which we are about to walk is exciting, humbling, and even a little uncertain, but that only deepens our reliance on God. He has us covered. He has given John a love for our church and Alaska. We are so blessed to have John’s commitment to walk with us down this pathway.

—Pastor Todd Michero

Congregational Vitality is a pathway, explored together which leads to a healthy, missional church. A healthy church pursues Christ. A missional church pursues Christ’s priorities in our world. The Veritas workshop introduces the language of vitality, including the four types of churches and the ten healthy missional markers. Would you like to attend or host a seminar? Contact the ECCAK office to explore the opportunities or to learn more about congregational vitality, visit

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Espresso Machine Out of Retirement and Back to Work for Bethel’s Coffee House Outreach With a vision to reach youth, some detective work, a refurbished espresso machine and some committed volunteers, Bethel Evangelical Covenant Church launched a coffee house ministry to encourage and serve students in their community. “During my time as youth pastor, our youth ministry has been very discipleship based,” explained Aaron Anderson, youth pastor. “We wanted to try something that would be more of an outreach for kids, and the idea of a coffee house emerged—a place where kids could have a safe place to do homework, receive tutoring or just hang out an disconnect from electronics for a while.” Aaron’s team started looking into getting a nice espresso machine, but discovered that the cost of acquiring a machine would run them more than $5,000. “ In the process, I found out that the church used to do a coffee house several years ago called the ‘Groovy Grind’ and had co-owned an espresso machine with two other community groups,” Aaron recounted. “After some sleuthing, the machine was found in the local Honda shop, where it had sat unused for several years. I also found some old bottles of syrup and the former coffee house sign in the old church bathroom-turned-storage-closet.”

Aaron visited the owner of Honda shop who agreed it was time to bring the machine out of retirement. With the purchase of approximately $100 of parts, the machine was back in business. In the fall, the coffee house opened afterschool on Mondays from 4-8 p.m. Middle

school and high school students are invited to enjoy their first coffee or hot chocolate free. They can purchase others if they need more of a boost. The church has provided the supplies needed to offer the hospitality to youth who participate. “There are a couple of ladies who provide

meals twice a month and there are faithful volunteers who also tutor and help kids with homework, or are available to talk or play games,” Aaron said. The coffee house served approximately 25 different students over the course of the year and average attendance was around 12-15 students weekly. There have been as many as 20 students there at one time. Students are trained how to run the machine, so there is a number of growing experienced baristas in Bethel. The youth group also uses the funds raised at the Monday gathering towards a project to raise $3000 for World Vision. They hope to open sales to the congregation on Sundays to supplement their fundraising efforts. “One of the cool things about the coffee house is that is acted as a ‘feeder’ for our Wednesday night youth group meetings,” Aaron explained. “It has opened the door for our students who may not attend church or youth group to feel more comfortable in the church and to then visit us during our group times.” Aaron stressed the importance of volunteers like Bob and Rochelle White and Pam Conrad, among others, who have been faithful to provide the support and encouragement the ministry and the kids need.

First Covenant Hosts AFACT Assembly Candidate Forum Anchorage First Covenant Church, in partnership with Anchorage Faith and Congregations Together (AFACT), hosted an assembly candidate forum eight days before Anchorage’s Assembly election in March to educate Anchorage voters about candidates’ positions on three issues. The topics for the one-hour forum--picked before by AFACT members--included candidates' positions on homelessness, substance abuse and mental health funding, and the public process itself. All 13 candidates for the six seats available attended. Host Julie Kitka, co-president of the Alaska Federation of Natives opened the forum by saying that Anchorage residents deserve good local leadership and that the forum was a way for voters to decide who would best serve their needs. First Covenant joined AFACT in 2013, a multi-denominational faithbased group, whose mission is to work from the faith principles and values of the members, apply those values to community issues, and take democratic action to impact existing social structures for the common good of all citizens, particularly the poor and disenfranchised. “The candidate forum was a great success providing an opportunity for the public to be informed about our leadership’s views on important issues. It is exciting to see the many ways our church is opening its doors to our community,” said Heidi Jensen of First Covenant. First Covenant’s Community Outreach Ministry Team is currently in

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the process of interviewing individuals in the congregation to discern what needs are in the community that First Covenant can address through their partnership with AFACT. “I enjoy being a part of this ministry because the core of this ministry is connecting with people and building meaningful relationships,” Heidi explained.

ACC Milestone: First Associate Degrees Awarded by Rev. Dale Solberg, ACC Director of Learning Resources

Alaska Christian College is thrilled to announce that the first Associate in Arts (AA) degree diplomas were awarded at the commencement service on May 4. Three candidates, all female, each received an AA degree in Ministry. The degree recipients were Leiscia Chadwick from St. Petersburg, FL; Kaylin Kopp from Galena, AK; and Josephine Daniels of Golovin, AK. The journey to the AA degree has been long and has involved tremendous work by ACC faculty and administration, but was marked by a number of significant milestones that have benefitted the ACC students. The institution opened in September 2001 with a one year discipleship model and curriculum similar to the then three Covenant Bible colleges. Beginning in 2002, a second year program was added, but with most or all second year courses at Kenai Peninsula College. In 2003 ACC marked a milestone by awarding the

first two year certificate to Donald Fancher of Unalakleet, Alaska. The awarding of a two year certificate meant that ACC could begin the process toward accreditation and eventually toward offering degrees rather than certificates. The completed forms for applicant status with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) were filed in October 2003, and another milestone was reached in February 2004 with ACC moving to applicant status for accreditation. Over the next four years the institution hosted four ABHE consultative site visits, wrote and submitted the first comprehensive institutional self-study, and hosted a three day ABHE evaluative site visit in October 2007. The milestone of candidate status for accreditation was reached with ABHE in February 2008. Three more consultative site visits were part of the next three years, another massive self-study was written and submitted, and another three

day evaluative site visit was hosted in October 2011. The next significant milestone took place in February 2012 when ACC was awarded probationary initial accredited status for a five year period. During this same period other milestone were marked such as beginning to provide general education on the ACC campus beginning in Fall 2008 and several revisions of curriculum both to dovetail with the new ACC mission statement and to continue toward the goal of developing courses that could eventually lead to an AA degree. After reaching initial accredited status, ACC was qualified to apply for State of Alaska certification to offer AA degrees. That milestone was reached in Summer 2013. Stay tuned for another milestone in 2015 when ACC expects the first AA degree diplomas to be issued for those who have completed the course requirements for Paraprofessional Education.

Josephine Daniels, Golovin, AK

Kaylin Kopp, Galena, AK

Josephine chose to pursue the AA degree to further pursue a biblical foundation for her life. She enjoyed several of her courses including Jesus In The Gospels as she engaged in learning how society was in Jesus’ time, and learning about context. The Ministry Leadership course gave Josephine the “opportunity for learning more about my individual strengths, and weaknesses.”

“God provided a scholarship that opened the door for my Christian education. I’ve always felt called to serve rural people, and I recognize that a firm foundation in Jesus Christ is essential for this. ACC is qualified to both teach truth and nurture native young people to serve their own people. That’s what I want to do!” Kaylin plans to continue her education and return to rural Alaska as a Christian counselor. “This degree has given me a foundation to stand on, and tools to equip others when I return to the village.”

Leiscia Chadwick, St. Petersburg, FL

Jospehine plans to continue her education to become a certified teacher and serve in rural Alaska.

“The AA degree gives me a basic foundation to ministry and I will be able to use it in the mission work I want to do. ACC has helped me realize that God was calling me to do missions. I have always known that I wanted to pursue a medical career and realizing that I want to do missions just made everything fall into place. As for my future plans, I want to become a nurse and use that in missions. I want to travel and do missions work wherever I go.” Summer 2014/ 5

The Lost Has Been Found: Conference Rejoices With Baptism of New Believer by Brent Amundsen, Arigaa—UAF

Annual Meetin

Community Covenant Church•F

Living Into God’s Story: In Him we live a When John Ishnook received Christ and was baptized at annual conference, it was such a tangible example and a strong reminder of why the Church exists- to make disciples. After hearing the story of the prodigal son and the lost sheep and coin, God opened John’s eyes to the fact that, in his own words “I’m lost.” That night after the service he prayed with those around him to make Jesus the Lord of his life, and that Sunday wanted to be baptized before the congregation. There were no tongues of fire or booming voices from heaven, but that day marked the start of a new life for him. I have known John for the last two years or so as he has been apart of the Arigaa college ministry here in Fairbanks. He was admittedly not a follower of Jesus, but was one of our most faithful students and really invested himself in helping make Arigaa happen. One time I asked him why he comes to Arigaa, what keeps bringing him back week after week? He told me “I don’t know… but when we pray and worship God I feel peace.” God had been knocking and John finally opened the door and let the Prince of Peace in. I had the privilege of baptizing our new brother, and I look forward to walking with him as he learns to live an obedient and abundant life as a disciple of Christ. During his testimony John quoted Johnny Cash when he said “I have tried drugs and a little of everything else, and there is nothing in the world more soul-satisfying than having the kingdom of God building inside you and growing.” Please pray that the Kingdom of God would grow in John’s life, that his roots would grow down deep, and that he would be able to bring the peace of Christ to those he meets.

New General Council Members Elected The general council meets three times a year and is vested with the administration of ECCAK. Its members are elected by and responsible to the official meetings of ECCAK. The General Council consists of nine elected members as well as the ECCAK field director and the executive secretary of the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism. These are the newest members of the General Council.

Brent Amundsen, director of Arigaa-UAF, presents John Ishnook, UAF student from St. Michael, AK, for baptism on Sunday of the annual meeting conference.

Road System 3-year term: Curt Lindner Eagle River

Norton Sound 3 year-term: Betty Jackson Shaktoolik

YK Delta 3 year-term: Lanette Forbes Bethel

Norton Sound 2 year-term: Adam London Unalakleet

ng Conference

Fairbanks, Alaska•April 2-6, 2014

and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

Ralph and Gert Fondell Honored with Award for Years of Lay Ministry Ralph and Gert Fondell of Eagle River Community Covenant Church (CCC) were honored with the Daniel Savetilik, Sr. Lay Ministry award during the annual meeting for their long term contribution to ECCAK ministries as volunteers. The intent of this award is to annually recognize local Covenant lay persons who have made significant contributions to ministry in Alaska over many years of faithful service. The award is named after Daniel Savetilik, Sr., a faithful leader and servant for many years in the Shaktoolik Covenant Church. The nomination form submitted by Community Covenant Church listed several areas where the Fondells have been involved. “Ralph and Gert are looked up to not only for the faithful service they have done, but for their ongoing commitment to the body of Christ. They have a missionary heart to reach out to others—a great example,” said Keith Bergstrom, adult ministries pastor. Ralph and Gert first ministered in Alaska in 1959 with KICY in Nome as full-time missionaries. They were part of the original church plant group for CCC. For many years, Ralph has been a greeter, offering counter, and has given input for community care needs. Gert has been involved with a women’s Bible study that she started years ago and has been a Sunday school teacher. They have also been involved in the prayer team for many years. Curtis recounted how Ralph was his first visitor when he moved into the ECCAK office and prayed for Curtis. With tears and heartfelt appreciation, Curtis said, “I want to be like them.” Nominations for the 2015 award may be submitted to the ECCAK office until January 15 and will be reviewed by the General Council in their January meeting. Nomination criteria, application and a list of former recipients can be accessed at

You are invited to attend the 2015 ECCAK annual meeting conference to be hosted by

Elim Covenant Church Tuesday, March 24-Saturday, March 28, 2015

Curtis Ivanoff, ECCAK field director, presents long-time Alaskan couple with the Daniel Savetilik, Sr., award for their many years of joyful and faithful service in Alaska.

L.E. Ost Account of Early Church Growth in Alaska from Grandpa Reprint Jan-Olov Schroder (original in Swedish), Translated by Sigurd F. Westberg

Editor’s Note: This chapter reprint appears in a book written about missionary work in the late 1800s and early 1900s through the Covenant Church in Alaska. The book, originally in Swedish, was translated into English. Though some spellings of names of people and places are not reflective of current spelling, we have chosen to include them as they appear in the original translated edition. The book is a rich treasure of remembering God’s work in Alaska among and through the Native people as recounted by early missionary, L.E. Ost.

tered deeply into the things that Karlsson and the other missionaries talked so much about. Consequently he saw it as most appropriate that, on his fur trips, which took him to villages seldom or never visited by white men, he should bring the Gospel there. Rock was clearly cut out for this role. Through his constant travels along the coast he had picked up enough of the speech of the people so he could make himself understood in mo st o f t h e diale c t s. B e side s h e was an e xc e pt io n ally captivating Stephan Ivanoff was August Andersson's right hand man on speaker. He did not hesitate to embellish his anecdotes from many occasions on his travels in the villages. Hundreds of his own im aginat ion, for he knew that the people in the desother Eskimos joined in and took part very actively in the olate and isolated villages liked it. In this way he made them work of edification. Ojjarrak Rock is probalisten. bly the most talked about from the earliest L it t le b y lit t le t h is wo r k o f O jj ar r a k period. He had a past that was as b o isRo c k b e c am e known. The missionaries, of t e r o us as it was un usua l, b e fo r e h e be course, had no objection to this competition. c am e acquainted with Axel E. Karlsson. Through Rock's spontaneous entry into Ojjarrak Rock's father was married four the work the teaching was spread to the most times. In his second marriage Ojjarrak was distant villages, and everywhere curiosity born in mid winter outdoors in a snow and interest were sown in the work of drift. Being born outdoors in this way was the mission. The missionaries soon called looked upon by many tribes as the best Ojjarrak Rock The Apostle of the Eskistart in life an Eskimo could have. If the mos", when they fully realized kind of newborn was weak this could, of course, access they had through this remarkable lead to death. On the other hand if the baman. by was in good condition it was looked upFrank and Misha Kamaroff, Andrew Kaon as becoming so much stronger after a korin, the siblings Misha and Kaitcha birth outdoors. Ivanoff, Fred Walker, Peter and Dora The father's fourth marriage ended precipiEgelak, Samuel Anarick, and David tately. On an occasion of mental aberraPaniptchuk were other Eskimos that the tion combined with intoxication from his Swedish missionaries could hardly have own home brew, he shot his wife to death. Her brothers took done without in the building of the work. Misha Kamaroff was revenge at once, and after killing the fattier they set out after the the best linguist among them. He could speak both English two sons, Ojjarrak and Akoolak. For blood revenge like this and Russian, as well as several Eskimo dialects. As translator was not complete until the whole family was liquidated. The Misha was invaluable for Axel E. Karlsson. two boys were hunted for several days. They succeeded in Alice Omegitjoak belonged to those female workers who staying hidden out on the tundra. When things quieted down through the provision of the mission received an education after about a week, they returned h om e at least t o fin d t h e in the States, and then returned to Alaska as commissioned missionb o die s o f th e ir p ar e nt s. Everything loose in the home was aries. At a later period others joined as established Eskimo workstolen and moved out. ers, such as Julius Pleasant, Paren Wilson and Minnie GoRo c k w as o n l y t we l ve y e ar s o l d wh e n h e lo st b o t h p ar- nongnan, Reuben and Katherine Paniptchuk, Harry and Care n t s an d h o me . He gr e w up alm o st as a wild m an . Un der r ie Sox ie, A xe l and C lara Oyo um ik, Jo sh ua A y inona an d unbelievably difficult circumstances he survived on his own. many, many more. Later he made a living by activities that were not always within the law. When Axel E. Karlsson came to Unalakleet Ojjarrak Rock was fasc inated by the tall Swedish missionary, and he was Grandpa A Mission in Alaska has been recently one of the first to join him in his work. Rock was a very skillreformatted and printed by ECCAK and can be purchased ful dog team driver and he had decidedly the best dogs in the area, which he had trained himself. He was at this t im e e nfor $35. Order online at, use the enclosed gage d in fur t r adin g. He t r ave le d aro un d in th e villages envelope, or contact us directly to order your copy. buying up skins which he in turn sold to the buyers of the big companies. It was always Rock who prepared for Karlsson and The 141-page book includes text and pictures that resulted the other missionaries when they were to go out o v e r t h e e x from the author’s time spent with L.E. Ost in 1972. p a n s e s o f s n o w t o c a l l u p o n t h e o u t l y i n g villages. Ojjarrak Rock's energy never flagged. For a number of years “Painting with only light colors cannot produce a masterpiece. he held meetings in the villages he visited in his fur b u s i n e s s . God knows this better than I do, so be honest before Him and T h i s w a s g o i n g o n f o r s e v e r a l y e a r s b e f o r e Karlsson mix in some dark colors in order that the result and the others learned about it. Rock was true to his style, might be a true picture.” going his own way without asking permission from anyone. He —L.E. Ost simply followed the law of his own will, and now he had en-

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8 // ECCAK Sinew

Pastor Wassilie Mute Retires After Serving Five Terms in Three Villages Over 29 Years After 29 years and seven months of pastoral ministry in the Covenant Church of Alaska, Wassilie Mute retired in May, just after he and his wife and partner in ministry, Jean, celebrated 39 years of marriage. Wass and Jean have been serving in Koyuk since 2005 and will be making their home in Bethel, near their children and grandchildren. Wass, originally from Kipnuk, received a three-year diploma from Alaska Bible Institute in 1980. In 1982, Wass was encouraged, by then Field Director Don Bruckner, to accept an 8-month call to pastor in Koyuk. Jean recalls how encouraging Don was and assured the couple that even though their roots in the faith were planted in the Moravian church, that God had a place for them in the Covenant as well. At that time, the Mutes had three sons and a newborn daughter, but sensed God’s call to go. One year after their initial time in Koyuk was completed, the church called them back and they served another four years in Koyuk until 1988. Their fourth son, Joshua, was born during their time in Koyuk. “I am so thankful the Covenant Church allowed Wass to minister even though we were from the Moravian Church,” Jean fondly recounted. “We have been blessed with a widened circle of influence and friendship within the larger family of God.” In 1988, they accepted a call to Nunivak Island where they served Mekoryuk Covenant Church until March of 1993 when they took a year and a half break from pastoring to give some focused attention to family needs. In 1995, God then called them to Scammon Bay where Wass served as pastor for ten years. In September of 2005, Koyuk called them to return again to serve as pastor in the village they had started their pastoral ministry together. Initially, Wass had anticipated serving five years in Koyuk, but the Lord granted them nine, with a one-year sabbatical in 2013. Health concerns and an increasing desire to be available to children and grandchildren contributed to their decision to retire from pastoral ministry this year. “I remember Wass preaching at Bible Camp when I was a youth and what an encouragement he was to me after I gave my first sermon as a young man there,” recalled Curtis Ivanoff, field director. “Many people have been the recipients of God’s goodness through his ministry and challenged by his passion for God’s Word.” Wass and Jean were honored at the April ECCAK annual meeting in Fairbanks and presented with a plaque at the Koyuk church a few weeks later. Over the next year, Wass and Jean will both be teaching a course at the Moravian Seminary in Bethel.

MERGE MINISTRIES coordinates short-term mission teams desiring to serve in Alaska. In March, a team of seven individuals from different places came to serve Anchorage during spring activities. They served dinners with “kids kitchen”, provided childcare during Native Musicale, passed out free hats and scarves at the Iditarod starting line and took in the sights and sounds of Alaska. Interested in serving churches and communities in Alaska? Visit:

Jean and Wassilie Mute anticipate new opportunities to minister in Bethel as they retire from pastoral ministry after serving with ECCAK for 29 years in Koyuk, Mekoryuk, and Scammon Bay churches.

Summer 2014/ 9

Cepero Publishes Second Book Christ-Shaped Character: Choosing Love, Faith and Hope Helen Cepero of Anchorage "Three things will last forever— alive to Christ’s love, I grow as a First Covenant Church usually faith, hope, and love—and the Christ follower, and as a human does not think to introduce her- greatest of these is love." —1 Cobeing living in God’s world. This self as an author. However, her rinthians 13:13 What are the pathbook is an invitation for you not second book debuted on Amaways that lead us to God? This is a to follow me, but follow Jesus into zon earlier this spring. book about what happens when the stories of your own life. You Helen moved to Alaska in 2009 we find those pathways. You will too, will need to wake up and be when her husband Max accepted discover the values and virtues willing to walk . . . through your a call to pastor in Anchorage. Some of her experiences in Alas- that grow out of our experiences, own life." Follow the journey to ka are shared in the book puband practices that encourage us to God by considering three ways of lished by IVP Books. be with God in specific ways. Spirlove, then three ways of continuHelen explained that the idea itual director Helen Cepero writes: ing in faith and lastly, three ways for this book came from teaching of living in hope. These nine patha workshop for what it means to "I’ve seen that when I reflect on ways will lead you more deeply live “in Christ” for the ECC Mid- my own life experiences, when I am alert to God’s presence, and into life with Christ. winter Conference some years ago. In addition, she taught a course for Multnomah Bible Seminary on character. After receiving positive feedback from these two projects, Helen decided to write the material in book form. Her first book, entitled Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: Encountering God Through Attentive Writing, was published in 2008. Helen is ordained in the Covenant Church and teaches at North Park Seminary’s Center for Spiritual Direction and she ministers as a spiritual director, and speaks nationally. She has been married for 33 years and has three grown children. She has previously lived and ministered in Berkley, CA, and Chicago, IL. Her books can be purchased from

Day of Prayer & Fasting for Life September 10, 2014

Around ECCAK Ann Murphy (Community Covenant Church, Eagle River) is retiring this summer after serving as the Children Ministries Pastor since 2002. Jeff Keyser (Community Covenant Church, Eagle River) has served as youth pastor since 2002. He will finish serving in June and will attend seminary in the fall.


Nick Bruckner, Bible Camp Director, and Nikki welcomed Jack Benjamin into their family on May 12 weighing in at 8.8 lbs and 21 inches long. He was born at 10:32 a.m. in Anchorage. He is the great-grandson of former pastor and field director Don (Eunice) Bruckner. Wassilie Mute, Koyuk Covenant Church pastor, retired in May after 29 years of service with ECCAK.

Your gifts make transformational ministry happen as together we share God’s love through the starting and strengthening of churches, making and deepening disciples, developing leaders, loving mercy and doing justice, and serving globally. 10 // ECCAK Sinew

Ruth Barram, 97, a Covenant missionary and widow of Covenant minister Norm Barram, died on April 12, in Parkston, SD. She and her husband moved to Alaska in the 1960s. She taught Sunday school in Unalakleet when Norm pastored there. They were active with the Covenant High School in Unalakleet. She also lived in Nome, and Anchorage, and Valdez during her many years of fruitful ministry in Alaska. James Barefoot, associate field director, has assumed a full-time role with ECCAK. James has served part-time with ECCAK since 2009. Some of James’ responsibilities include ECCAK bookkeeping, pastoral coaching for village pastors and assisting with congregational vitality for rural churches. A draft of the proposed constitution is available for review online at

Summer Prayer Calendar June




First Covenant Church, Anchorage Wisdom & vision for ministry teams: Community Outreach, Missions, Preaching, Children & Youth, Facilities Pastoral Staff: Max Lopez-Cepero, Phil Cannon, Vince Eben, Heather Smith

New Song Covenant Church Anchorage Person to lead youth ministry Need for keyboard player Continued growth in Christ Vision & strength in God’s direction

Chugach Covenant Church Anchorage To impact Anchorage and abroad with the message of God’s grace and healing Pastors Dan Krause and Kyle Brown


Covenant Youth of Alaska (CYAK) Youth in Action camps & VBS Bible Camp Ministry in Unalakleet CYAK staff weddings: Kara Bladel (Eric Gufstafsen), June 21; Lauren Ernst & David Rurik, July 19

Hooper Bay Covenant Church Godly leadership will grow Members will find places of service A church constitution will be finalized Souls will be saved and grow within the church, nurtured to maturity

Mekoryuk Covenant Church Praise for those using spiritual gifts For unity in the church, relationships to be restored; God's body will be one To reach the youth and others who are hesitant to enter the church


The River Covenant Church Soldotna Discern God’s work on the peninsula Reach out, minister to community Ministry leaders to lead toward maturity Children to attend VBS in June

Unalakleet Covenant Church Shaktoolik Covenant Church Youth intern Blaze Gransbury Summer greenhouse ministry w/youth Lay leadership to be established Unity in the body of believers Potential fall interns to discern call Need for a pastor to shepherd Pastor Joel Oyoumick’s health needs


Bethel Evangelical Covenant Church Continued outreach to Bethel youth Ministries to the homeless Pastor Hugh’s continued Bi-vocational ministry and Anderson & Forbes families’ partnership


Mountain Village Covenant Church Pastor Don (Fei) Cross & family Youth who attend Bible camp to be encouraged and equipped to walk daily with Jesus

Community Covenant Church Mat-Su Covenant Church Eagle River Wasilla  Our departing pastors: Ann Murphy (retiring) and Jeff Keyser (to seminary) Pastor search committee to discern  Growth and maturity of the missional God’s leading for a new pastor presence of CCC in our community, in Interim pastor Mike Alverts the state, and wherever God asks

Elim Covenant Church • Children to respond to God's invitation to salvation during Bible Camp • Pray for favor in our efforts to raise funds for the construction the new parsonage • For a youth leader to minister in Elim Nome Covenant Church Nathan (Carlee) Hobbs ministry to Nome families; James (Rachel) Ventress & Checkpoint Youth Center; Nathan Nagaruk & leadership team with drafting new constitution; Tom Mute, Candace Weidler & worship teams

Important Dates Bible Camp, Unalakleet ECC Annual Meeting, Chicago CYAK Team Planning Retreat, Unalakleet ACC Student Orientation Begins ECCAK Day of Prayer for Life Covenant Women Fall Retreat, Willow CYAK Young Adult Retreat, Big Lake ECCAK Pastor Leader Retreat, Big Lake WAMT/Covenant Orientation course, Anchorage

June 3-July 3 June 23-28 August 9-14 August 21 September 10 September 19-21 September 26-28 September 30-October 3 November 10-14 Summer 2014/ 11


Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska P.O. Box 770749 Eagle River, AK 99577

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

The Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska ECCAK is a non-conference “field” of the Covenant Church of America, dependent on the gifts from churches and people to carry out our mission for Christ’s sake in Alaska. Ministry Priorities Pastoral Care Youth Ministry Leadership Pathways Congregational Vitality Church Planting & Evangelism Field Director: Curtis Ivanoff

Can’t attend? Tune into KICY AM 850 at 7:00 p.m. April 2-65for live broadcasts of the evening services r listen to live streaming at

Field Director Curtis Ivanoff’s spring travels landed him in Mountain Village for some of the excitement at the Lower Yukon Conference, then on to Nunivak Island where he worshiped with Mekoryuk Covenant Church.

Associate Field Director: James Barefoot

Office Manager: Jenn Steinbrecher Sinew Editor Kristi Ivanoff

Summer 2014  
Summer 2014  

Summer edition of ECCAK's quarterly newsletter. God's work through the Evangelical Covenant Churches of Alaska.