Skip to main content

Alaska Children's Services

Closing communion with Bishop Hagiya

Lunch at Gwennies!
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.
Sweat Lodge at Alaska Children's Services

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.

Alaska Children's Services prayer area


Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…