Presbyterians Today

NOV-DEC 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 33 faith, crossing boundaries, crossing lines and recognizing that we serve a God who is powerful and mighty and who can do all things." This official apology by the PC(USA) and the apology by the Presbytery of Yukon have led to the creation of a multidenominational Intergenerational Arctic Ministry (IAM) for faith-based trauma healing in Yukon Presbytery. Molly Pederson, a member of Utqiagvik Presbyterian Church and president of the IAM Board, said this initiative is just beginning. "We are going to concentrate on healing from addictions because that seems to be the problem that has arisen from the trauma of long ago," Pederson said, referring to church- supported boarding schools. "Being taken from parents and family to go to school away from home really had a bad effect on us. People turned to alcohol or drugs to try to deal with it. This ministry is going to try and help heal us." According to Pederson, the IAM Board is looking for volunteers willing to be trained to be listeners for a healing program called The Listening Way. "We plan to train two people in each of the villages, and they will help their people and train others. Everybody is excited about it. We need prayers to find the right people to be listeners," she said. In his role as executive presbyter of Yukon Presbytery, Karns is also serving as executive director of IAM. "We have a lot of people to recruit in each community and that's a big task, but God has been faithful so far, so we are trusting that God will continue to be faithful," Karns said. He added that he is hopeful because "we have the right pastor in Utqiagvik; we have the right mayor in the North Slope Borough; we have the right executives at the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation; we have the right people in leadership positions, that all at once it gelled THE IÑUPIAT WAY OF LIFE Love and respect for elders and for one another underscore the values than have guided the Iñupiat Eskimos' way of life in the Arctic for thousands of years. There is, perhaps, no Iñupiaq elder in the eight villages of Alaska's North Slope Borough who is more highly respected than 92-year- old Wesley Ugiaqtaq Aiken, the oldest member of Utqiagvik Presbyterian Church and a veteran of World War II. Aiken was born in Barrow, Alaska (now Utqiagvik) in 1926. Until his family moved back to Barrow when he was 12, he lived near Cape Halkett, along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea coast, and learned to hunt seals and maneuver the sea ice as a young boy. "When I was young, I was a reindeer herder," Aiken said. "At that time, I saw old people who could no longer hunt, so I started giving some of the food to them." Aiken started whaling at age 14 and later became a whaling captain to help provide food for the entire community. Today the act of giving is coming back to Aiken. "I am 92 years old and can no longer hunt, but young hunters and fish- ermen share their food with me," he said. Aiken says that what he loves about his home is the tundra. "It has no trees to block you from seeing anything. You can spot caribou with binoculars from a long way," he said. As a young man, Aiken helped build houses for Alaska Natives through a grant program of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He built his own house, using a hand saw and no electricity. During WWII, Aiken volunteered to serve the U.S. Army as a member of the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG). Two years ago, at age 90, he volunteered to be trained as a tribal veterans representa- tive to help fellow ATG veterans with the application process to receive state and federal benefits. Aiken remembers that Utqiagvik Presbyterian was the first church in the community until other churches were established in the 1950s. He said his favorite hymn is "Jesus, Tender Shepherd, Hear Me," and his favorite Scripture is John 3:16. "It was the first verse I learned as a little boy," he said. "It took me a while to understand what it meant, but I do now." At age 90, World War II veteran and former Alaska Army National Guard member Wesley Ugiaqtaq Aiken completed training to volunteer as a tribal veterans representative (TVR) near his home in Utqiagvik, Alaska. Trained TVRs assist fellow veterans in applying for state and federal benefits. PHILLIP HOKENSON

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