Alaska Holds Native Spiritual Leadership Workshop

November 22, 2016 | Jim Kincaid

Alaska Native Adventists gathered recently at the Alaska Conference headquarters in Anchorage for the first of what is planned to be a semiannual meeting with the goal of establishing and empowering Alaska Native people in church leadership.

After more than 100 years of Adventist presence in the state, a definitive plan to train, mentor and empower Native people to leadership in the local church has eluded us. Some of the factors that have contributed to this context are the results of the limited training of non-Native volunteers who have staffed our remote village locations, the lack of continuity in staffing, the short tenure of conference leadership in the past, and overall funding to address such a need.

Fortunately, the Alaska Conference has benefited from a committed, long-term administration for more than a decade, which has been a boon not only to the work for Native people but for the conference as whole. 

One of the goals of this more intentional approach is to not only train and empower Native people in church leadership, but to educate and train our non-Native volunteer staff to implement this same concept in their leadership in their particular village. It can be a temptation to busy ourselves with doing all the essential things and fail to share the responsibilities with our local people.

The gathering in Anchorage on Oct. 7, 8 and 9, 2016, was attended by representatives from St. Lawrence Island, Selawik, Dillingham, Togiak, Mekoryuk, Bethel and the Interior, as well as Native ministry leadership from the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) in Ridgefield, Wash.

The curriculum for the workshop covered such topics as giving Bible studies, Bible study resources, dealing with problem people, working with conference leadership and helpful insights on leading worship. 

Presentations were made by Monte Church, NPUC Native ministries coordinator; Steve Huey, NPUC Native ministries assistant; Melvin Geyshick, Bible worker from Plummer, Idaho; Joe Chythlook, Native leader from Dillingham; Kevin Miller, Alaska Conference president; Quentin Purvis, Alaska Conference secretary; and Jim Jensen, Alaska Conference treasurer. 

The participants all expressed their thankfulness that such a direction is being taken and their expectations that God’s kingdom will be strengthened.