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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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January 7, 2009

Shishmaref in trouble

Residents of Shishmaref, Alaska — many of them Lutherans — have been told they must choose another site for their town because their coastal village is endangered by erosion and flooding due to climate change. The long-chosen site of Tin Creek on the nearby mainland is plagued by degrading permafrost — not anchored enough for a town. Shishmaref Lutheran Church is the ELCA’s northernmost congregation and the only church in the village. “I am very concerned, not just about their commerce and industry, but about their entire culture, oral traditions, family traditions and more,” said Shishmaref Lutheran's pastor, Robert H. Wentzien, before his death from a fall last year.

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