Support the Café

Search our Site

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 or visit their website.

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

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café