ALASKA ARMY CELEBRATES PAST…and looks to the future
Lyle James of Angoon welcomes
delegates to Sitka.
BY JENNI RAGLAND –
In a beautiful blending of worship and culture, 238 soldiers and friends of The Salvation Army came together in Sitka at the annual Alaska Congress to celebrate “Jesus Christ…Lord for All Time.” Commissioners David and Doreen Edwards and Lt. Colonel Sharon Robertson were the featured territorial guests.
Congress, a time of spiritual renewal, is also a time of reflection. Many of the testimonies and activities spoke to the significant influence of the Native culture and leaders of the past on the ministry of The Salvation Army.
A special time of remembrance honoring members of the Kake Band was celebrated during the welcome banquet. Kelly James, the guest of honor, is the only living member of the band. The 25 members of the band, many of whom could not read English, served enthusiastically as God’s instruments to the people of Alaska. The influence of the Kake Band lives on today through the memories of family members and others whose lives were touched through the band’s ministry.
It is said that you can’t choose your family members. This is especially true with God’s family of believers. But God brings leaders to minister alongside the people of Alaska; many become family. The influence of these people in the lives of Alaskans is recognized by their acceptance into the family system through adoption. It is an honor to take on the name of a family member. At the Congress this year, many new members were added to the Alaskan family. Commissioner David Edwards, called Asx‘ áak, was given a killer whale name from the community of Kake. Commissioner Doreen Edwards, was given the name Kaa sáat, a raven name from Kake. Alaska divisional leaders, Lt. Colonels Terry and Linda Griffin were also adopted. He was given the name Sa gooch, a killer whale name from Wrangell. She is now called by the name Kaatsa . wáa, a raven name from Hoonah.
Remembering the past is important, but we live in a time of rapid changes–even in the most remote villages of Alaska. Salvationist elders, who have endowed us with a rich heritage, now look to the younger generations for a new infusion of energy to carry the Alaska Division in the 21st century.
Commissioner David Edwards challenged delegates throughout the weekend to invest in the future as Christian mentors. Using the example of Mark and Barnabas in Acts 13, Edwards reinforced the importance of being Christian people who pray and live out our Christian lives daily with integrity, courage, passion and strong conviction. The leaders of today must train future generations through a godly example. Many responded to the challenge and leading of the Holy Spirit as young and old filled the altar in a time of renewal and recommitment.
Alaska’s two newest senior soldiers, Roberta and Steve Gulledge, have responded to God’s leading and recently began attending The Salvation Army in Sitka. At a point in their lives when they were searching for something with more meaning, God directed them to The Salvation Army. This is not Roberta’s first encounter with The Salvation Army. She attended the corps with her family during childhood but stopped going during her teen years. Since November, Roberta and Steve have been attending the corps regularly, helping at the food pantry and worked on the Congress organizing committee. A/Captain Michael Nute, in-charge, shares “Roberta and Steve bring a fresh spirit of enthusiasm to the Army. They are the future of our Army.”
God continues to work in the hearts of Alaskan Salvationists and building his kingdom in Alaska as Lord for all time!