share, have a good time of prayer.’ That
Missionaries and fluid boundaries
sounds more like church to a Yukoner than
anything that happens on Sunday morning.”
You can hide or you can reach out, says
Reid Fowler, who served at Riverdale
Baptist Church in the late ’70s. “People
who are willing to go and live there [are]
either going to be hermits and they’re
going there to hide, or they tend to be
more gregarious and they will be open to
new relationships and friendships,” he
says. Now semiretired in Chilliwack, B.C.,
Alberta and British Columbia. The deep-
est Christian fellowship he’s experienced
happened in Whitehorse, he says. He also
volunteered with the RCMP in White-
horse, and saw the potential for loneliness
in the community. As a pastor Fowler says
he saw the community consistently en-
courage people to follow Jesus.
Most residents belong to one of the
Yukon’s 14 First Nations. Reserves don’t
exist here – 11 of the First Nations have
signed land claims agreements. Bound-
aries can be unclear. First Nations’ land is
interspersed with non-First Nations’ land,
even in cities. Within Whitehorse, named
for the nearby rapids that used to resem-
ble the wild, flinging mane of a horse on
the run (before it was dammed, of course),
the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the
Ta’an Kwäch’än Council have territory.
Anglicans came before prospectors. The
first Anglican bishop to the North, William
Carpenter Bompas, arrived in the Yukon in
1891, before gold was discovered. Anglican
church buildings dot the horizon, home to
often dwindling congregations.
There are missionaries here, of course.
Send North (a partner of Send International) and Northern Canada Evangelical Mission have had ministry personnel
in various communities for years, sometimes pastoring churches. Dawson Community Chapel, for example, was pastored
by Send missionaries for years before
joining the Evangelical Free Church of
Canada in the late ’90s.
Ken Pregizer is a Send missionary, and
has been for 30 years. Training church
leaders can be difficult, he says. According
to Pregizer, some members may think
they lack the education or experience to
pray, share or read Scripture publicly.
Sometimes a missionary will train a prospective leader only to watch them fall
back into destructive habits. It can be
discouraging. “That was the one person
that you wanted to lead the church,” he
says. “You don’t have a Plan B.”
Henry Klassen is a longtime member of
Riverdale Baptist. He isn’t convinced min-
istry and life here as an Evangelical differ
much from anywhere else in Canada.
“Don’t think anything is unique to us,” he
says of Riverdale, a church he’s attended
since moving to Whitehorse in 1967.
Klassen also doesn’t consider White-
horse as transient as its reputation leads
people to believe. People are staying
longer. More seniors are retiring here, he
All Whitehorse has to offer – the city was
ranked first in MoneySense magazine’s
2011 list of top places to live in Canada
for cities fewer than 25,000 people – is
not lost on a growing Filipino community.
The word diaspora is not misused here.
Filipinos are attracted to Canada’s North
for the wages, healthy and high compared
to back home where the average annual
salary hovers at around US$2,500.
The Yukon Nominee Program
promotes immigration to Canada’s North,
streamlining the process for foreign
workers happy for the opportunity.
Bethany Church, a congregation of
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada,
found itself ministering in a changing city.
The church now hosts a Filipino church
service to meet the needs of this growing
segment of its 300-member congregation.
The presence of the Filipino congregation
and culture in Bethany has changed the
church for the better, says associate pastor
Robert Young. “It brings a richness, it
brings a family together. God’s family has
different ethnicities. Why wouldn’t we in
the four walls of the church as well. It’s been
a good challenge for us to be able to stretch
ourselves to make room for the people God
is bringing to our church. It means not being
so limited, so focused on one people group.”
— PATRICIA PADDE Y, KAREN STILLER (adapted
from Shifting Stats Shaking the Church:
40 Canadian Churches Respond, a World
Vision book to be released March 24, 2015)
Immigrants to the Yukon
enrich local churches
as Wilderness City