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Using SPOT Technology to Track Pastors in Alaska

WASILLA, AK (May 10, 2011) The Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska (ECCAK) is keeping an eye on its pastors’ movements.

The ministers often have to travel 100 to 300 miles by snow machines through difficult conditions in remote locations. If something goes wrong along the way, rescuers need to be able to find them quickly across the wide expanse.

That’s why three of the pastors now use a personal locator beacon called SPOT that transmits their location to the ECCAK as well as other designated computers. The ministers attach the locator to their clothing or bags before leaving on a long trip.

The SPOT page on the computers shows a color photograph map of Alaska and updates the minister’s position with latitude and longitude coordinates. “In this way, we can actually watch our pastors travel from village to village by snow machine in real time,” says James Barefoot, pastor of Mat-Su Covenant Church in Wasilla.

Barefoot, as well as pastors Ross McElwee of White Mountain Covenant Church, and Byron Bruckner of Unalakleet Covenant Church are the three ministers with SPOT technology. The conference would like for all of the pastors ministering in bush Alaska to be equipped with the technology.

Cost for each unit is around $100, and the tracking program costs $150 per year. Anyone wanting to help provide the equipment and service to a pastor should call the Wasilla church at (907) 373-2322.

About the Author

  • Marianne Peters is a freelance writer, master gardener, and environmental educator. She lives in Plymouth, Indiana with her husband, two teenage daughters, and two mischievous ginger cats called Fred and George (after the Weasley twins of Harry Potter fame). From 2008-2013 she wrote the Creation Care column for Covenant Companion magazine. In 2011, her family decided to downsize by half, a decision that led to the publication of her book Declutter for Good: Share Your Life and Reclaim Your Life. She blogs about green living and gardening at www.freshwordswriting.com.

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