I’ve been in a clergy new to Alaska orientation for the last two days. We visited several churches, our camp, Alaska Children’s Services, ate lots of great food, heard from pastors, our Bishop & Conference Superintendent. I feel very welcomed and prepared for ministry and life in Alaska. My other 5 colleagues who are new to Alaska are great people and pastors. I’m excited to serve alongside them!
One experience yesterday caught me off guard. We met at Alaska Children’s Services yesterday morning to spend time with Kelli Williams, the spiritual life director. (She took me on one of my first mission trips to Seattle in high school! Love her!) She shared the story and mission of ACS. It’s a children’s home that provides support for youth with severe emotional disturbances. It began in 1890 in Unalaska, then moved to Seward and then to Anchorage after the 1964 earthquake. I was most impressed with the range of spiritual activities the teens are able to participate in. It’s not required but 83% of their residential students choose to participate.
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard about ACS.
They have a flag day celebration every July 9 to honor Benny Benson, a former resident who designed the Alaska state flag. I left ACS feeling bad though.
I had driven past this property every day for years. I could see my high school and my old neighborhood from ACS. I couldn’t believe I never knew what amazing things happened here right in my backyard.
I also felt bad because my father has served on the Board of Directors for ten years. I never took a minute to ask what ACS did, why he cared about its cause and why he gave so much time to them.
And I’m really proud that he did.
I’m looking forward to asking how I can help at Alaska Children’s Services in any way needed. I’m so thankful for this place that gives hurting youth a home, therapy, tools for spirituality, education and a chance to heal from their life experiences.
If you or your church wants to help ACS, here’s a brief wish list.