I am away this week in Fairbanks, Alaska at the House of Bishops fall meeting.
What follows is a re-posting of some of my photos that I have already posted on Facebook describing our time here, so far.
Some people have asked why the House of Bishops is meeting here- it seems to be an exotic and extravagant location. One person whose post I saw on Facebook took umbrage with us acting "like a bunch of jet setting CEOs."
The House of Bishops meets twice per year for a week at a time. The spring meeting alternates between a conference/retreat center in the East (Kanuga) and one in the West (Camp Allen). The focus of the spring meeting is divided between business sessions and retreat time. The fall meeting is held in an area where it is thought that our presence would be valuable in some way as we witness to and participate in the mission of God. Last fall we went to Detroit and spent time in Flint learning about the water crisis there. Alaska was chosen as this year's meeting site for several reasons: we are here to learn about and support the work of our brother The Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime, Bishop of Alaska, in a mission field that is rugged, isolated, challenged by issues like poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment and the tension of retaining native ways against economic development and industry. We are here to learn about the care of the land which is sacred to the native peoples and to advocate for careful stewardship of the natural resources. We are here to learn about racial reconciliation and how to respect the dignity of every human being as we learn about historic tensions in this place among cultures. We are coming to appreciate different cultural systems- peoples who organize themselves in clans and tribes with elders and chiefs. We've been told that we will be practicing the art of hospitality as we listen to the stories of these people and spend unmeasured time with them. And we will be receiving their generous hospitality as we share table fellowship and eat food prepared by their hands of their larders and their native menus. (read: moose stew, roasted muskrat.) We are also here to share, each to each, as brothers and sisters in Christ who have in common, the saving love of Jesus.
This morning, several teams will be flying out on small planes to various Alaskan villages in the Interior. Glenn and I will be part of a team of 8 who are traveling to the village of Beaver (Pop. 84). We are bringing eggs, tea, coffee and oranges. We are excited to learn about life in a remote village and to stand shoulder to shoulder with these people and, together, to bless their land. These land blessings will be taking place across Alaska at 2 PM as we join in prayer and praise of our Creator and the beauty of the world that we have been given. Please join us in prayer as you are able at that time (6 PM EST). I"ll post more after today.
In the meantime, here are some pictures from our short couple of days in Fairbanks, so far. (some of them are taken before dawn as we are 4 hours off-schedule and waking at 2 AM to prowl the streets for coffee...)