On Eagle's Wings was established in February 1999, born out of the passionate support of a small group of individuals in the United States and Canada committed to ecumenical ministry in the Arctic. Led by founding Executive Director, Lee Berry, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada who had over 20 years of experience as a pastor-pilot in Arctic ministry, On Eagle’s Wings was the first ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to the Arctic region.
With the donation of a second aircraft, C-GEHH, and the appointment of Rev Lesley Hand as Pastor in March 2005, On Eagle's Wings was able to expand its ministry area to include remote communities in northern Alberta and northern Saskatchewan. Pastor Lesley serves this area from a base in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
In May 2008, AnnE Zimmerman succeeded Rev Lee Berry as Executive Director. Ms Zimmerman continues to lead On Eagle's Wings toward its goal of walking with people of the north as they are equipped and empowered to become leaders in their own churches. Prior to her appointment as Executive Director, Ms Zimmerman served as the Director of Ministry for On Eagle's Wings and was instrumental in developing many of the resources that northern Christians enjoy.
On Eagle's Wings has been formally endorsed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church In Canada (ELCIC), is recognized by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and welcomes the financial support of synods and congregations throughout the ELCA and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). In addition, On Eagle’s Wings has established collaborative relationships with the Roman Catholic Diocese of the Mackenzie and the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton and the Diocese of the Arctic in Canada.
The history of and the need for ministry in the North
In the beginning of the 20th century, missionaries traveled by boat and by dogsled over vast distances to bring the Gospel to those living in the Canadian Arctic. In the early years, more than one hundred pastors and full-time church workers served the communities of the North.
There have been many changes in the Arctic since the first missionaries journeyed with the Gospel over 100 years ago. The native people no longer live as nomads following the caribou herds, but live in villages instead. Today, only a handful of pastors and priests remain year-round to serve over 15,000 native people living in approximately 50 Arctic communities. Although a church building stands in many villages, there is often no one available on-site to provide full-time pastoral care.
While full-time church workers may never return to the Arctic in the same numbers as a generation ago, the Christian faith continues to thrive in the lives of the aboriginal people.
On Eagle’s Wings supports existing Christian communities of all denominations in the Arctic providing the essential pastoral care, ministry resources, and continuity of faith necessary for Christian community.
Working in partnership with the people of the North, On Eagle’s Wings’ staff members and volunteers provide