Alaska Congress brings renewal
Petersburg Corps welcomes Alaskan Salvationists to annual gathering.
By Jenni Ragland
Nearly 150 Salvationists descended upon the community of Petersburg—Alaska’s Little Norway—for the 2013 Alaska Congress. Colonels Dave and Sharron Hudson, Western territorial chief secretary and secretary for women’s ministries, respectively, along with Bandmaster Neil Smith and staff (Joy Lee, Mejee Lutcher, Jude St-Aime), joined Divisional Leaders Majors George and Jeanne Baker in leading Congress activities.
With the Congress theme of holiness in mind, Will Ware (Petersburg Corps) set the tone for the weekend, asking delegates, “Are we prepared for all that God desires for us?”
A lively testimony time followed, including one assertion from Ronda, a first-time Congress attendee, new in her faith, who shared, “All the poison has been taken away to make room for all the goodness of God.”
Hudson illustrated the process of transformation and renewal that must occur in the life of each believer, using Michelangelo’s Sistene Chapel painting. Much like this masterpiece that deteriorated over time so that the vibrant colors became a muted brown and required a process of restoration, sin can discolor a believer’s life. It is only through the Master’s tender touch that our hearts can become clean and pure.
The Community Care Ministry Luncheon, coordinated by Major Nila Fankhauser, featured recognition of those who have been faithful in ministry to others, including Flora Huntington (Juneau Corps), 40 years; Lynn Paul (Kake Corps), 35 years; Chuck Paul (Kake), and Tina and Paul Bentley (Mat-Su Corps), 30 years.
Emily Thielenhaus (Anchorage Corps) enrolled as a senior soldier, and Hannah Wright (Sitka Corps) as a junior soldier.
Baker presented the 2013 Northern Lights Award for outstanding service and dedication to Majors John and Cathy Quinn, Kodiak corps officers, and Majors Jos and Riekie Govaars, who, while retired from active service, are strong supporters of the Ketchikan Corps.
A special offering took place to support the planned reopening of the Angoon Corps in July. As each officer announced their corps’ pledge—including funds, furnishings, new Bibles, songbooks, and pots and pans—tears overwhelmed Alice Thomas, one of the soldiers from the community who faithfully prayed for the Army’s return. In total, more than $10,000 was promised—a significant amount as most corps work with limited resources to support their own ministry. Baker announced that divisional headquarters would match these gifts, bringing immediate applause from the congregation.
The Sunday meeting began with the traditional memorial service, a time to remember Salvationists and friends promoted to Glory during the past two years. Clarence Jackson, Tlingit elder, was among these 40 names as he was promoted to Glory just prior to the Congress. His booming voice and joyful presence were greatly missed.
At the meeting’s end, many people responded to the altar call, challenged by Hudson’s message to have a renewed heart, mind and spirit.