I’ve heard it said that Fairbanks, AK is a nice place to live, but you wouldn’t want to visit there.
By the end of September I was beginning to believe this saying. My flight back from the House of Bishops meeting in Phoenix, AZ touched-down in Fairbanks at 11 o’clock Wednesday, September 22. On Friday, September 24, at, or around, midnight, I was back at the airport for a red-eye flight to Seattle. It was the first leg of a 3 flight journey to Jackson, Mississippi and the Duncan Gray Conference Center for the Annual Domestic Mission Partners Conference. Ginny Doctor and Shirley Lee were my travel companions.
In many ways, the conference had the feel of a retreat. The Duncan Gray Center is an exquisite location with well maintained facilities and many attractive views and space to wander. A chapel, outside labyrinth, hiking trails, and a large pond complete with basking turtles on a large tree trunk protruding from the middle, round-out the facility as a top-notch space for spiritual refreshment and recreation.
And the food was the best of Southern Hospitality.
Despite these amenities, the group had important and prayerful work to accomplish. The main focus of which was to review grant proposals for consideration of funding from DMP’s budget.
Reviewing grant proposals and awarding funding based on the merits of ministry proposals is a terrible task. Terrible because every proposed ministry was worthy of our support and our partnership. I was pleased, however, by the good work that the group accomplished and that every grant received some manner of funding.
More important, however, was the opportunity to share our work and ideas with others and to forge partnerships between dioceses.
Alaska presented the EAGLE program for consideration. The EAGLE program is designed to provide leadership training and experience to young adults 18-30. The goal of the program is to nurture the future leaders of our parishes.
The Diocese of Mississippi was so intrigued by this program, that they have pledged to send one of their Youth Camp counselors to attend EAGLE training in Alaska. In exchange, The Diocese of Mississippi will have the Alaskan EAGLE students come and serve as camp counselors for a week at the Diocese of Mississippi Youth Camp during the summer.
That is the sort of partnership and opportunity that makes serving the Episcopal Church a joy.
I am proud of the EAGLE program. I hope for its continuing success and for the development of further partnerships within our church.