ANCHORAGE, AK (August 25, 2016) – The Alaska Conference of the ECC is asking other Covenanters to join them September 8 in a “Day of Prayer and Fasting for LIFE,” which will focus on praying “for deliverance from the peril of suicide in our communities and for healing from the pain of those we have lost already.”
The conference has produced a 24-hour prayer guide for the day and is downloadable. The guide can be used by individuals, small groups, or an entire church. Each hour has a theme, a short-sentence prayer to guide participants’ thoughts, a scripture to meditate on and pray, and a suggested prayer focus. Some of the prayer focus entries include a region of Alaska or a named community where there is a Covenant church present.
The Conference Annual Meeting established the annual day of prayer and fasting in 2011.
“Suicide has been described as an epidemic in Alaska,” notes the conference website. “Much attention has been given to try to turn the tide. We are aware of one too many stories of loss—there is hardly a person who has not been touched by it in some way. But we are ambassadors of the good news of Jesus Christ, who has defeated death. Our hope is that the prayers lifted up will spur us on in love and good deeds to shine the light of Christ in the face of the darkness of death, not just in September, but each day.”
According to government data, Alaska’s suicide rate is nearly twice the national average and the leading cause of death in Alaska for people ages 15 to 24. Over a two-week period in September and October 2015, four people committed suicide in the remote village of Hooper Bay, which has a population of 1,200.
In a 2015 report by the local public radio station, the head of the homicide unit in Anchorage noted the high rate of suicide in that city. “For every homicide we have in Anchorage there are four suicides,” said, sergeant Slawomir Markiewicz. In 2014 there were 15 homicides and 60 suicides.