The northernmost Presbyterian church in the country




As the oldest church in Barrow, Utqiaġvik Presbyterian Church has a proud history. The first service of the church was held on Easter Sunday in 1899. The service was held at Nuvuk, near the present site of Point Barrow, with 13 Iñupiaq communicants participating.

In that same year the Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Spriggs were sent to Barrow to minister and teach at the new Presbyterian mission.  

In 1905 A three-masted ship piloted by Capt. James Cook delivered the materials needed for the construction of a school building. By 1906 the Spriggses were holding classes in the new school building. Rev. Spriggs learned Iñupiaq and begin preaching in the native tongue and also translated hymns and some of the Scriptures.  

In 1915 Dr. and Mrs. Frank Spence arrived in Barrow and in the following year the church was enlarged and two steeples were added. 

In 1921 Dr. and Mrs. Henry Greist arrived to take charge of a new Presbyterian hospital under construction in Barrow. Greist was both a medical doctor and an ordained Presbyterian pastor and his wife was a nurse.  In 1922 the first child born was born at the new Public Health Service hospital. His name was Eben Hopson, the same man who 50 years later became the first mayor of the North Slope Borough, founding the international Inuit Circumpolar Conference.  

The Griest's young son David grew up in Barrow and was fluent in Iñupiaq. Even when he returned to Utqiaġvik Presbyterian Church as a very old man, he still spoke to the congregation in Iñupiaq. Mrs. Griest founded the powerful group that became the Barrow Mother's Club. Read more about the Griests and their work in Barrow.

In 1923 four young Native men were taken under the care of  Presbytery as students, preparing for the Gospel ministry. Pictured in the header on the top of this page, these young ministers-in-training were Samuel Simmonds, Percy Ipalook, Andrew Akootchook and Roy Ahmaogak. Each of them dedicated their lives to serving the Iñupiat as Presbyterian ministers. Samuel Simmonds served in Barrow, now Utqiaġvik, where the hospital bears his name.  Percy Ipalook served in Wales, Alaska.  Andrew Akootchook served in Kaktovik, Alaska. Roy Ahmaogak served in Wainwright, Alaska, leading in the translation of the new testament into Iñupiaq. In 2017 the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) apologize to North Slope natives. .  To read more about the inupiat people see-

Pictured to the left: Reverend Joseph Reid, Currently Serving as the Senior Pastor at Utqiaġvik Presbyterian Church.