Seventeen Disciples representing eight regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will leave next week for a three-week work trip to Alaska. The Yukon River Flood Mission Project in Alaska is being put together by the Office of Disciples Volunteering of Disciples Home Missions and will take place Aug. 21 – Sept. 14. Northeast Alaska was hit with heavy flooding this past spring, an area where many Native American communities are located.
Participants will pay their own travel costs to and from Anchorage, Alaska, where they will initially gather. A $12,000 Week of Compassion grant will be used to help defray costs of travel, food and other expenses once the volunteers reach Alaska. They will address flooding that has occurred along the Yukon River. “We have both clergy and lay participants,” said Carl E. Zerweck, III, director of the Office of Disciples Volunteering.
The work trip is being sponsored by the Office of Disciples Volunteering, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Anchorage, Alaska, the Northwest Region of the Christian Church, North Alaska Disaster Response, and Week of Compassion. Included in the Week of Compassion grant are funds to cover the travel costs for both David Bell, executive director of the Yakama Christian Mission, and Josh Baird, mission station manager for Disciples Volunteering in Louisiana.
“Josh will be providing key leadership to the project as he assists me in taking on several of the logistical details related to our daily living, especially related to our spiritual lives, particularly worship, devotions and debriefing,” said Zerweck. “He will also be setting up a blog site that we will maintain throughout the project. David is providing the cultural education and sensitivity piece for the project.”
The volunteers will travel to Anchorage between Aug. 19 and 21. They will go to Fairbanks on Aug. 22 and worship there on the 23. First Christian Church of Anchorage will serve as hosts for the volunteers at the start and end of their trip. “The congregation there is excited about serving as a host for our team on the front and back ends of the project and are working out various ways to get their folks involved,” Zerweck said. “They are very grateful to be part of such an important general church event!”
Zerweck said donations are being received to help defray the cost of the work trip and each volunteer is also seeking to raise additional funds. “Most of us are carrying air mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows and towels in with us that we plan to donate to the villages where we work,” he said. “We will buy tools in Alaska and donate them to either the Long Term Recovery Organization, and/or also the villages.” He foresees a good possibility that another response team will need to return to Alaska in the spring to continue the work.
“I believe that this is a fantastic opportunity for us to truly live out and celebrate our call to be engaged in mission ‘from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth,’ “ said Zerweck. To donate to the project or get more information, contact Zerweck at 317-289-5061 or visit www.discipleshomemission.org
By: James Patterson