Northwest Conference – Unalakleet and Shaktoolik

Post a Comment » Written on April 17th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (April 17, 2009) – This summer, the Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church aims to send four six-member teams to make necessary improvements on the parsonage of Unalakleet Covenant Church.

The first conference team is scheduled to leave July 6. “A lot of people want to go,” says Superintendent James Fretheim.

Unalakleet is located on Norton Sound. Initially founded in the 1830s as a trading post of the Russian-American Company, the village has traditionally worked as an important trading location between the Inupiaq Eskimos to the north and the Yupik Eskimos to the south.

The village has a long Covenant tradition. The Swedish Covenant Church opened a mission in 1887, followed in 1954 by a Covenant boarding school open to all western Alaskans who didn’t have schools in their home villages. Each year, Unalakleet hosts a Covenant Bible Camp.

Today, business in the village consists of three stores, one gas station, one restaurant, one bed and breakfast, and a cannery open only in the summer. As of 2000, Unalakleet had around 750 residents, according to the U.S. Census.

The lodging in Unalakleet can only host six people at a time. Cost for each individual’s airfare, room, and board is estimated at $2,000.

Once in Unalakleet, the teams will work on much-needed remodeling of the parsonage. That work will include changing windows and repainting the walls.

The total cost for materials and transporting them is estimated at $30,000, and each conference church has been asked to contribute, Fretheim says. So far, they have donated $18,000.

The conference will work closely with the Arctic Barnabas Ministries, which encourages and supports Christian leaders in the Arctic regions of Bush Alaska, Western Canada and Far East Russia. They will provide a foreman for the Unalakleet site, to ensure the shipment of supplies and evaluate the project afterwards.

The partnership with Arctic Barnabas will be important, Fretheim says, so our teams don’t go up there and wonder: “Now what do we do?”

The conference plans to work with Shaktoolik in coming years, although no specifics have been set.

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