Arctic Church Ordains Local Leadership
Time is past due for local Native Alaskan people to be empowered to provide leadership for the small Adventist groups in their villages," says Jim Kincaid, an Adventist lay member who returned to the remote village of Kotzebue after a number of years as pastor and conference executive secretary in Alaska.
The Selawik Church came closer to this goal on Dec. 29, 2007. The church ordained two elders Marie Savok and Warren Downs and gave Helen Loon and Fred Davis the roles of deaconess and deacon, respectively. The church celebrated communion, and will now be able to celebrate communion more frequently with the ordination of these elders. Two of the ordained leaders, and the brother of another, are former attendees of the Adventist-run Bristol Bay Mission School in Aleknagik which operated until the early 1970s.
Adventists have a long working history among the Inupiats of Northwest Alaska, stemming from the late 1930s. However, due to lack of continuity in Adventist leadership and presence in the Arctic region, there have been few appointed local Adventist church leaders through the years.
Warren and Verity Downs and their three daughters have just finished their second year as Selawik church leaders. With a population of more than 800, the village is one of the largest villages located just above the Arctic Circle and 75 miles inland from the Chuchi Sea. The Downs family is living there on a faith-based financial arrangement; Downs pursues his career as an online computer programmer and relies significantly on God's prompting potential contributors for financial support.