On Sunday, I was not feeling well so there was no church. Then on Monday, off the plane walks Rev. Seth. thanks to a few conversations with one of our villagers who mentioned the need. St. Andrew’s Angelican Church has decided to visit some river villages and offer their support. Their goal is to share God’s word and be a consistent support.
When missionaries first came to Alaska, specifically the rural villages, they told people they needed to believe in God, baptized them, moved the kids to boarding schools, and then left the villages. This is a very basic summary. In essence there has not been consistent opportunities for Alaskan’s who live in rural villages to learn more about God, even those who want to. Below is a post from a teenager about her and her grandparents experiences.
“I went to a boarding school in the Southeast part of Alaska. I’m from the interior, I was 800 miles away from home. I’m a frequent traveler because of my distance from home, and also for competitions. I competed in #mehsxc #mehswrestling basketball #mehsNYO ❤💛 this was surprising for a #koyukonathabascan who is from the village of #rampartak which has less than 100 people. The Rampart school shutdown when I was a child, so I grew up between there and Fairbanks. I learned my cultural history, my songs, my dances, my subsistence lifestyle. I don’t know my language. The boarding school I went to was originally run by the BIA before being taken over by the state. During that time, it was a hospital for the tb epidemic, and a place native students where forced to go starting at the age of 4. This was an attempt at complete assimilation: often being abused mentally, physically, and sexually. This happened across the U.S, and this generation is still alive. I don’t know exactly what happened to my great grandmother, but she didn’t teach her children their language. My childhood is shaped around growing into, and unknowingly, healing from my family’s trauma by keeping my culture alive in myself, the next goal being to learn my language. Going to college in California for wrestling is a new part of my identity, and it’s important for me to further my education for my community, but at times it hurts to be away from home. This is my open book.” – Angniq Woods-Orrison (Koyukon Athabascan), posted on Instagram (@Angniq) http://athabascanwoman.com/?p=3946
So the fact that Rev. Seth Brooker, showed up basically unannounced offering support is a big deal for our village. Church was announced on the radio at 4pm to start at 7pm. We started at 7:30pm and had 13 adults and 5 children present. When you think of having about 88 people in the village that is 20% of our population who came out for church with only two hours notice! It was also a huge blessing to me to sit in a service and be feed by the Word of God.
Rev. Seth has committed to providing us outlines for Sunday services and a video biblestudy. The goal is for him to fly in once every three months to hold a service in person and on special holiday’s. Additionally, we have set a date for vacation bible school, the week after school gets out. What is really exciting is that it will be for kids AND adults.
If you would like to learn more about the early church in Alaska, check out this document.