As we stood on the gravel tarmac next to the small building that housed a check-in counter and scale for the luggage and freight, we noticed the fog coming in closer over the village of Makkovik along the Labrador Coast. We were fearful that again the plane would turn back to Goose Bay as it had earlier that day, which might mean another four days in Makkovik until the fog was predicted to lift. And then we heard the plane and eventually saw it circle the building and land. After a quick refuel, we were on our way back to Goose Bay-Happy Valley where we would catch our flights home.
Such issues with travel up and down the coast are common for our brothers and sisters in Labrador, who serve in the three communities of Nain, Hopedale and Makkovik, and then the inland church of Happy Valley. As Loren Jendro and I from the Board of World Mission met in Makkovik for the synod of the Labrador Mission Province, we were impressed not only by the isolation of these communities, but also by their steadfast faith and desire to deal with the issues that continually confront their church. Sister Sarah Jensen was reelected as chair of the Labrador Provincial Board, which has a representative on it from each of the four church communities.
The Labrador Mission Province has two ordained pastors who serve the churches of Hopedale and Happy Valley, while the other two congregations have gone many years without continuous pastoral leadership. They do have lay pastors as well as chapel servants who keep the work of the church going forward, but recognize the need for more intentional efforts at leadership development.
We had some good discussions about how Labrador might benefit from on-line training options, as well as more flexible models of pastoral training that are being explored by Queen’s College in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The provincial board will be considering the possibility of having its two pastors make a monthly visit to either Nain or Makkovik in order to provide for sacraments, visitation and more ongoing mentoring of its lay leadership.
The Board of World Mission is also exploring opportunities for sending Antioch servants to help with music and camp ministries, as well as with youth leadership development. Many of the churches, as our churches in the U.S., lack for the involvement of youth, although the Makkovik church had a wonderful children’s choir that participated during our time of worship.
Despite the isolation of the coast, the effect of weather on the lives there, and the many struggles of the Labrador Moravian Church, Loren and I also saw a faith community that was trying to work together to share the gospel and that had an openness to try new models for reaching the youth.
There is evidence of the Spirit moving in this Church. The people reflected some of the true beauty of the country that cannot be concealed by the occasional fog that sets in. It was a privilege to be among them and to learn from them.
Judy Ganz is executive director of the Board of World Mission. Photos from Makkovik, Labrador.
From the December 2012 Moravian Magazine