by Rev. Jim Doepken
In 2019’s Annual Conference session, the Alaska Conference designated the second Sunday of September as “Alaska Conference Sunday.” It was created as a Sunday where the Alaska Conference could highlight and celebrate its ministries and take a special offering across the Greater Northwest Area and include various partner churches across the denomination for the support of its work.
This year, that Sunday was going to be September 13.
However, more pressing issues took the attention and focus of the Conference throughout the year. Work shifted to respond to the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism and asking for a special offering while so much of the world continues to struggle seemed insensitive and inappropriate to Alaska Conference leadership. Then, as September 13th moved closer, wildfires raged in communities of the United Methodist siblings in the other three states of the Greater Northwest Area. Whole communities were lost. Churches that had not been occupied in six months opened as emergency shelters. Pastors provided crisis care to members and friends who had lost everything.
Something had to change about this special offering. Thus, this year’s Alaska Conference Sunday was turned into a special offering in churches across the state for disaster response work in the Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences. The totals of how much was raised are not available yet.
Churches were encouraged to take a special offering and/or donate from mission, discretionary or personal funds to support the two disaster funds of the Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho Annual Conferences.
While individuals can read the call to action on the Alaska Conference website, more important is seeing how they can participate. Please give to the disaster work in the two sibling conferences of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area.
“What greater way to celebrate the Alaska Conference Sunday than in an act of spiritual and financial solidarity with our siblings in Oregon, Washington and Idaho,” wrote Rev. Lisa Talbott, Alaska Conference Lay Leader Jo Anne Hayden and Alaska Conference Superintendent Rev. Carlo Rapanut.