Robert Rader represented Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends this summer with visits to both Alaska Yearly Meeting (AYM) and Alaska Friends Conference (AFC). Some excerpts below:
I attended the AYM summer conference from 10 July 2019 through 14 July 2019 in Kotzebue. I stayed in the parsonage of the Kotzebue Friends Church.... Ninety-five percent of the current meeting members are Inupiaq.... The members LOVE singing hymns! Each village would sing at least one hymn as an offering to God and to the meeting. Then individuals or small groups would offer a hymn. They have four different hymn books in the pews as well as printed hymn sheets. No one was self-conscious about their singing abilities or lack thereof. It was truly a joy to me to see and to hear the voices and feel the Spirit moving. The song of the yearly meeting was God is So Good. Recently they completed translation of the new testament into Inupiaq and several of the hymns as well. The text for the meeting was Matt 19:26. Click here for the rest of Bob’s AYM report.
My main takeaway from this body was their inclusion of the youth! The youth were seeking information about quiet time. What is the process? In answer to this the session decided to have a Spirit week for the youth where they could walk through the process and search for answers to their many questions. This Spirit week had been done in the past with a representative from one of the eastern meetings. Click here for the rest of Bob’s AFC report.
Alaska Friends met in our rustic Dickerson Friends Center in Wasilla, Alaska, located on land long occupied and cared for by Denaʼina. We celebrated the strength of new Meeting House foundations that withstood a 7.1 earthquake the past winter with epicenter just 10 miles away. We were joined by Friends Robert Rader from Sierra Cascades Yearly Meeting and Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation. Click here to read the rest of the epistle from Alaska Friends Conference.
We labored over a call from Indigenous Alaskans to address the great harm resulting from actions, overt and unintended, which displaced the Indigenous spiritual and cultural traditions. Bob reported on his recent visit to the Alaska Yearly Meeting Annual Session in Kotzebue, Alaska. His conversations there confirmed that our Friends in the larger Alaska Quaker community also labor with this harm, while recognizing the value of having brought Christ into their lives. Click here to read the rest of the letter from Jan Bronson, clerk of Alaska Friends Conference.