Midsouth Conference – White Mountain

Post a Comment » Written on March 6th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (April 29, 2009) – The Midsouth Conference and Superintendent Garth Bolinder have partnered with Pastor Ross McElwee of White Mountain. The conference was able to purchase a snow machine for McElwee last year and hopes to continue to send support both financially and with a mission team in the future.

The conference took a special offering during its 2008 Annual Meeting to raise money to buy the snow machine, a vital mode of transportation in rural Alaska. The conference covered the remaining $5,000 needed to purchase the machine after the results of the offering came in.

“They were very gracious and generous” says McElwee about the purchase of the snow machine, which is now being used to get around the village, to hunt, and to travel to White Mountain’s sister village 25 miles away that is currently without a pastor.

“Every other week I use the snow machine to travel and hold services for that village. So, they’re highly appreciative as well,” says McElwee.

The machine is also used for hunting, something that McElwee explains is not done for sport but to eat. Conditions in White Mountain are hard for McElwee and the 200 Inupiaq Eskimos living without roads and many modern amenities.

“In a lot of ways, it’s like living in a third world country. This is not downtown America,” says McElwee.

The conference has also attempted to solicit support from individuals in the conference. The process has been slow at first, but Bolinder anticipates the process speeding up.

“It’s just going to take some time until we get the ownership there in local congregations,” says Bolinder.

Some of the difficulty may be from the fact that McElwee already has a strong personal presence in the conference. He moved from Texas in March of 2008 and receives the bulk of his support from Covenant churches in the Midsouth.

The conference would also like to send a mission team to White Mountain sometime in the future. No matter how that happens, Bolinder is adamant that the work must continue, pointing to the importance for both parties in the partnership.

“We love Ross and Ruth and we honor them and admire them for their courage to go up to White Mountain and serve,” says Bolinder.

Bolinder calls the ministry of Covenant pastors in Alaska “heroic,” noting that they are often the only gospel witness in their communities.

The benefits of the partnership are truly felt on all sides. “Churches in the lower 48, who are very blessed, are able to be an encouragement to the pastor and the church,” Bolinder says. “At the same time, they add great value to our conference because they’re an example of sacrificial leadership and we need to see that.”

McElwee thanks those far away who are able to contribute in profound ways to the work in the farthest parts of Alaska.

“I’m able to tell people that they truly have a part in the ministry that goes on in Bush Alaska,” McElwee says. “We all have to work together in order to achieve the calling that God has for us on the local, regional, and uttermost levels.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog