Arctic Mission Adventure
Shungnak, or Issingnak in Inupiaq, is located on a bluff rising above the west bank of the Kobuk River, in the Brooks Range about 150 air miles east of Kotzebue. Shungnak is a traditional Inupiat Eskimo village with a subsistence lifestyle. According to Census 2010, there were 73 housing units in the community and 62 were occupied.
From the late 1930s through the early 1980s, the work in Arctic Alaska was vibrant and growing. Because of the status of the Alaska Mission, we were able to retain enough funds to underwrite a growing ministry through many of the 230 villages throughout the Arctic. However, in the early 1980s, the Alaska Mission was re-designated as a conference and with the accompanying financial challenges related to that status, the majority of the Arctic mission work died. Most of the churches and parsonages sat empty for more than 25 years until recently when a concerted effort was made to revive the work with the native population.
The work was started in Shungnak and a church was built around 1969. It was a growing church up until the 1980’s when, with no funded missionaries, it began to die. The church in Shungnak has now sat empty for more than two decades. As in the other regions in the Arctic, it has been the goal for some time to reactivate the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church among the native people of Shungnak. We currently have a dedicated, volunteer, newlywed missionary couple residing there and working to start the church again. They had their first baby last January.
The chapel has been in remarkable condition considering its age and the unstable ground it sits on, but now, thanks to the generosity of donors, it has a complete overhaul. The church has been completedly re-wired with new lighting and installation of a restroom/shower. A new heating system was installed and teh curch completely outfilled with new windows and insulation. New flooring, doors, steps and carpet make it look presentable and pleasing. There are also 40 new upholstered chairs ready for the guests on Sabbath. We are blessed to continue to have two missionary couples in the village who have been there for over four years.