We’re celebrating Alaska Conference Special Sunday this Sunday, September 19th, or you can celebrate on the Sunday of your choosing this fall. Churches across the Greater Northwest Area are encouraged to think about honoring Alaska Special Sunday in ways that mirror what is being done in the Alaska Conference this year.
Our focus this year will be on the statement of values agreed on at Alaska Annual Conference to guide the transition into a Mission District:
We acknowledge that the Methodist Church is complicit with, and rooted in, the colonization of Alaska and recognize that we live in that ongoing legacy. We lament the harm and trauma that our faith community causes. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, summarized God’s directives with three Rules: do no harm, do good, and attend to the ordinances of God. We also celebrate the grace, the love, and the good that our church does that calls us to re-imagine mission through intentional discipleship with one another. We will live into the transition to a Mission District committed to: 1) The love of God, neighbor, and self demonstrated by the deliberate embracing and valuing of differences, the leveling of imbalances between people and systems, and the intentional dismantling of inequities in whatever forms they present themselves. 2) Healing, grace-filled mission with communities and churches that prioritizes local experiences and shares resources across time and distance through equitable relationships. 3) Living into connectionalism by belonging to and trusting in one another to nurture relationships that celebrate the gifts each of our communities bring, allowing us to move forward in a decolonized way.
Here are some suggestions of ways you can celebrate this special day in your local churches with actionable items according to our baptismal vows:
Incorporate the statement of values in your worship service as a confession, call and response or covenant statement.
Research the tribe who originally lived on the land your church is located on and begin your worship service with a land acknowledgement.
- Make connections with your local tribal council or native corporation and build respectful relationships.
- Show up and support native artists, authors, speakers, groups and businesses.
- Take a special offering and give to any or all of the following …
- This is not just an invitation to give financially but to explore ways to be in partnership and learn from the programs and ministries of these organizations:
- Nome Community UMC – Our very own indigenous ministry in Nome, Alaska led by Pastor Bertha Koweluk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx1BeRes4G4
- Alaska Native Justice Center – An organization that promotes justice through culturally based advocacy, prevention, and intervention services to restore dignity, respect, and humility to all Alaska Native people. https://anjc.org
- Your Local Tribal Organization/Native Corporation
- Explore opportunities to support native programs, art, education and businesses in your community
- Research about the local tribes in your community and learn about Indigenous Values. Find ways to let these values inform how you live and do ministry.