Arctic People, Arctic Diocese

Over 140 years ago, missionaries came north. They told us that we were created on purpose, for a purpose. Like Christians from other nations, we Arctic peoples heard Jesus calling us out of a life of self-centered independence, to turn to him as Lord, to submit to the Bible’s authority, and to accept his invitation to partner with him in ministry to seek and save the lost. After accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we carefully investigated and meditated upon the word of God. We translated the Holy Scriptures into our mother tongues and accepted his mission as our own.

The mission of the Diocese of the Arctic is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to enable all members of the Church to live out their Christian calling. 140 years ago, this mission was common to Anglicans. However, we now hear another voice within much of the Anglican church that seems to be counter-Christian and in league with the world.

We in the Arctic are shocked as we hear bishops, priests, deacons, diocesan synods and general synods spurn Holy Scripture and try to pressure us to submit to human authority! There is a type of bullying as seemingly wise voices from the south call us to forsake the word of God. But there is another voice: a still small voice. It is the voice we heard so long ago, the voice of Jesus who still calls us to come learn of him. Therefore, we heed Scripture which tells us to beware and to not lean to our own understanding. God tells us in Proverbs 3, ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, … lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him…’ Jesus also warns us in Matthew 24 not to be led astray by deceiving false prophets. The Holy Spirit through Paul’s letters to Timothy warns us that ‘deceitful spirits and teachings of demons… will cause many to turn from the truth…’ But thanks be to God: we are no longer novices! We believe God created Arctic peoples on purpose and for a purpose. We have decided that we would rather partner with Jesus than partner with the Biblical critics who lead Biblically-illiterate, fruitless churches.

The truth is that the good news is bearing much fruit in the Arctic! There are Bible conferences happening. New churches have been built as old ones have been outgrown.

The Diocese of the Arctic is the largest non-governmental organisation in northern Canada. We offer tender loving care to everyone that we can. The government is thankful for the practical, spiritual, emotional and mental health ministry of our people. In the spring of 2021 and 2022, two of our communities experienced floods. Our people were there. Recently leaders in a community that is experiencing an opioid crisis told the government authorities that the person to look to for help was the Anglican priest. In Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, almost everyone looks to our Dean to officiate at funerals, sometimes up to four a week, with the associated pastoral care. He’s on his own and needs at least three other priests to help. Yet through the Celebrate Recovery course, he helps those in Nunavut’s prison find freedom from addiction in the name of Jesus. Another priest has extended parish ministry to a gold mine in the Kivalliq region, while another is traveling to train northern people how to step forward as leaders. In February, we hired our most recent Bible college student as our diocesan youth coordinator. His first trip was to Arviat, to a 4-day Bible conference organised by youth, for youth. It was standing room only as young people packed the church and stood in the porch to hear of Jesus Christ the solid Rock. Many other requests have come for Nick to come and help their communities, and preparations are already underway to reignite our Teens Encounter Christ program in 2024.

Our Bible college, the Arthur Turner Training School (named for BCMS Crosslinks mission partner Arthur Turner who came with his brother Jack to the Arctic in the 1920s), has expanded, using satellite internet to train a new cohort of deacons in their communities. Our eastern ATTS students are meeting in Iqaluit right now. The central and western ATTS student will gather in Yellowknife mid-April. There will be suicide intervention training, and another mission partner will train us in relational evangelism, mission work, and the distribution of Holy Scriptures. The Wholeness Through Christ program will help us with emotional and mental health training.

The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. In the past 30 years we have had 45 gifted clergy retire and nine move to other regions of the world. Thanks be to God, three of our deacons will be priested in April. We thank God for them. Please pray as God rebuilds our team!

David W. Parsons
Bishop of the Arctic

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