ELIM, AK (March 31, 2015) — It was fitting that pastors and delegates to the Annual Meeting each brought a stone from their villages to the gathering last week, when they voted to change the status of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska from a mission field to a full-fledged conference of the denomination, said Field Director Curtis Ivanoff.
During the meeting, they all came forward to pile their rocks into a jar. “In the same way that Joshua was instructed to build a pile of stones when the Israelites crossed the Jordan, we built an altar to commemorate the time we voted to become a conference,” Ivanoff said.
“What became clear at the end of the meeting was that while this would remind us of the important decision we made, what was more significant was that we would be reminded of Joshua’s words, ‘that the hand of the Lord is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God,’” Ivanoff added.
The theme for the meeting was “Living Stones,” based on 1 Peter 2:5: “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
“By God’s power, we have all been made alive to give witness to the life and hope that comes from Jesus Christ,” Ivanoff said.
The delegates also voted to change the name to Alaska Conference of The Evangelical Covenant Church. “The people were reflective as it was a momentous time,” Ivanoff said. “We realized that we were making a big decision, one that marks a new chapter for the work of the Covenant churches in Alaska, and there was a sense of God’s goodness as the assembly was in one accord.”
The gavel used to open the meeting and pronounce the motion passed was a piece of ivory fashioned by former Alaska Native pastor, Harry Soxie, when he served on the Diomede Islands, the eastern-most part of Russia.
Ivanoff, the first Alaska Native field director, will become the conference’s first superintendent. Delegates to the denomination’s Annual Meeting will vote on the change this year in June.
A previous Covenant News Service story highlighted the reasons for the change.
Reflections on the work in Alaska were given by two former field directors, Rodney Sawyer and Paul Wilson, as well as by Byron Bruckner on behalf of Hank Pearson, who served in the position before Wilson.
For the first time, the Daniel Savetilik Award recognizing people who have made a long and faithful contribution as laypersons was given to two people. Ethel Adams, an elder from Koyuk Covenant Church, was given the award posthumously. She was the first person to be honored with the award posthumously. Lydia Weston of Mekoryuk Covenant Church also was a recipient.