Alaska Delegates Expand the Vision
A bold new plan to enhance Adventist work throughout the Alaskan arctic was tentatively set in motion by 131 Alaska Conference delegates during the conference constituency session held June 17 at Anchorage Junior Academy. They voted to request that the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) and North American Division (NAD) re-designate the arctic and native village portions of Alaska back to mission status. While it may be a long-shot for NAD approval, Alaska members are hopeful.
Indeed the vast distances and differences throughout Alaska are unique. More than half of the conference members live and worship within the greater Anchorage area. The concerns of members there are in sharp contrast to the needs of those who live and worship in far-flung arctic villages. This diversity is something constituent delegates asked the executive committee to address in future meetings.
Delegates affirmed the vision of current conference leadership by re-electing all four officers: Ken Crawford, president; Quentin Purvis, vice president for secretariat; Kevin Miller, vice president for ministerial; and Sharon Staddon, vice president for finance. Each of these officers also covers additional departments and responsibilities for the conference beyond his or her official roles. In fact, in addition to their conference duties, both Purvis and Miller are part-time pastors in Anchorage.
Conference finances have stabilized during the past four years with careful financial management. With this solid foundation, the conference-wide REACH vision is moving forward. This five-part plan involves first of all revival: a four-year plan of spiritual renewal for church leaders, pastors and teachers. The second part is evangelism: to spread the Adventist message with Discover Bible School invitations, expand radio outreach and encourage churches to win 10 percent of their active membership each year with new converts. Part three is to target the 230 indigenous villages throughout Alaska — the Arctic Mission Adventure. The fourth will be to buck the downward slide in Christian education in some parts of North America by aggressively supporting Alaska Adventist schools. The final component is to help others by encouraging and supporting every member to be involved in some form of community outreach and ministry.
It's an audacious mission for a vast territory. Crawford had it right in his address to the delegates: "What we have to do today is nothing compared to what we have to do tomorrow and the next day and the next," he declared.
But leaders and members in Alaska are ready to stand and be counted, full of the missionary spirit in this final frontier for the gospel message in North America.