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Historic ordinations at St Matthew’s, Fairbanks, Alaska

Historic ordinations at St Matthew’s, Fairbanks, Alaska

From a press release from the Diocese of Alaska:

This Sunday, May 27, 2012, The Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime, Episcopal Bishop of Alaska, will ordain to the Priesthood Bella Jean Savino and Shirley Lee.


The Ordination Service, part of an all-day Pentecost celebration marks a historic occasion, celebrating and continuing the tradition of Native ministry within the church. It is believed that Lee will become the first Inupiaq female and Savino will be the third Gwitch’in female to be ordained to the Priesthood within the worldwide Anglican Communion. Both have ancestral family ties to earlier ordained Alaskan Native leadership. Both are currently associated with St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.

52 year old Lee, whose traditional name is “Bunnikjoruk”, was born in Fairbanks, raised in Fairbanks and Bettles Field/Evansville. In addition to the Interior of Alaska her family roots also trace back to Noorvik and the Arctic Coast. Lee is a wife, mother of 6, grandmother of 7 and has studied at the University of Alaska the Antioch School of Law and the Vancouver Anglican School of Theology. A former Executive Director of the Fairbanks Native Association and Vice President of the Tanana Chiefs Conference, she

is currently Director of the Tanana Chiefs Conference innovative “Housing First” program. Shirley was ordained a deacon in 2010.

Savino, who is 66 years old, was born on the banks of the Porcupine River in Northeastern Alaska, raised in Arctic Village and Fort Yukon. She is a wife, mother of 2 and grandmother of 6. Savino is retired from the Chief Andrew Isaac Alaska Native Health Center in Fairbanks and also has lived and worked on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming with the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes. Currently Savino provides ministry for those who are homebound and also for Denali Center Nursing Home, Fairbanks, Alaska. Bella Jean was ordained a deacon in 2002.

BellaJean_and_Shirley.jpgThe ordination service begins at 3:00pm with overflow seating and closed circuit television viewing in the Parish Hall. A Covered Dish, with traditional foods, music and dancing will follow the service and be held on the Church Lawn.

For more information contact St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church at 907-456-5235 or email The Rev. Scott Fisher at sfisher@mosquitonet.com or visit their website.

You may also call The Episcopal Diocese of Alaska at 907-452-3040.

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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