In the village of Koyuk, located in Western Alaska, a heartwarming celebration took place over the weekend of October 7th. The community rejoiced as they witnessed the grand re-opening of their sole church, which had been forced to close due to severe damage from Typhoon Merbok last fall. The reconstruction of the church, completed entirely by dedicated volunteers, was spearheaded by Curtis Ivanoff of Unalakleet.
Recognizing the dire state of the church, Ivanoff reached out to Samaritan’s Purse, an international nonprofit specializing in assisting churches worldwide. Before the renovation, the church lacked running bathrooms, a water system, and electricity, with structural issues that compromised safety.
Russel Richardson, a foreman for Samaritan’s Purse, arrived in Koyuk in May, armed with the knowledge and materials needed to create a church meant to last for generations. Samaritan’s Purse is committed to building a new church in rural Alaska each year, having undertaken similar projects in communities like Scammon Bay, Dillingham, and Ruby. Beyond church construction, Richardson built long lasting relationships with residents as he helped improve the homes of locals, addressing internet issues, and aiding in water and sewer concerns. The support of community members played a crucial role in the rebuilding of their church.
The new church is already making a significant impact. Pastor Don Cross, who has been serving the church for four years, aims to utilize the facility to its full capacity, ensuring inclusivity and support for anyone in need.
The collaborative effort of volunteers and Samaritan’s Purse has left a lasting imprint on the Koyuk community, fostering connections and a sense of home for all.
Image at the top: Koyuk’s brand new church. Photo by Sophie Tocktoo, KNOM.
Image in the middle: Koyuk residents gather in the new church for the grand opening. Photo by Alison Homekingkeo, used with permission.
Image at the bottom: Passing of the keys to Pastor Don Cross. Photo by Alison Homekingkeo, used with permission.