Friday, September 17, 2010

LDS Missionaries Leave Unalaska For More Populous Parts Of Alaska

Unalaska (map HERE)

According to KUCB 89.7 FM, two unidentified missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were re-deployed to areas where they could be put to more productive use. One was sent to Eagle River (just north of Anchorage), and the other to Fairbanks.

Unalaska, with a population of 3,584 as of July 2009, is not large enough to sustain a ward, but it has a branch, which is aligned under the Anchorage Alaska Stake. Branch President Don Clark explained that the missionaries' departure does not presage a contraction in Church membership on Unalaska. "They don't have a set deal where they have missionaries out here all the time. They've been coming and going since 1999," he says. "There's been some times all along when we haven't had missionaries here, and we've had young missionaries and senior missionaries out here. We just kind of bounce back and forth."

While they were in town, the missionaries' task primarily involved working the community's LDS congregation, and they had no interest in proselytizing to members of other churches in town. They also spent considerable time engaged in community service. "They helped at the senior center, and they also helped out with the kids at the PCR when they were asked to. They try to do community service," says Clark. "It's not just church stuff."

No new full-time missionaries are expected in Unalaska until after the new year. With a limited local population combined with the branch's policy of not proselytizing to members of other churches, there's only so much they can do.

Unalaska is located about one-third of the way out on the Aleutian Islands. Dutch Harbor, the official name of the city's port, is often applied to the portion of the city of Unalaska located on the smaller Amaknak Island, which is connected by bridge to the rest of the community on the larger Unalaska Island. Its economy can be summed up in two words: fish and fleet services. Its weather is diplomatically described as "invigorating", meaning if you don't like it, wait a minute. Unalaska averages 250 days of precipitation per year, and can be windy as hell. But on those infrequent calm and clear days, it can seem like a picturesque paradise.

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