Alaska delegates gather for annual congress
“From the mountains to the sea” is theme for divisional gathering.
by JENNI RAGLAND –
A March of Witness is led by Divisional Leaders Majors Doug and Sheryl Tollerud.
Over 175 delegates gathered for this year’s Alaska Congress hosted by Captains Kevin and Tina Bottjen and the Haines Corps. Lt. Colonels Donald and Debora Bell were the special guests, joined by Majors Doug and Sheryl Tollerud who received a warm welcome at their first Alaska Congress as divisional leaders. The Gospel Brass from Chilliwack, B.C., along with a small brass ensemble of Alaskan musicians, participated during the weekend.
More than 100 delegates, who had ferried from the communities of Ketchikan, Klawock, Wrangell, Petersburg, Kake, Sitka and Hoonah, assembled in Juneau for a pre-congress gathering. They, along with the Kenai delegation, continued on the ferry to join with Haines Salvationists and delegates from Anchorage, Mat-Su Valley and Fairbanks who traveled the Alaska Highway.
The Holy Spirit was present, in an atmosphere of joy and celebration, beginning with the enrollment of six new senior soldiers conducted by Bell. Spontaneous singing and testimonies also evidenced God’s continued work in the lives of Alaskan Salvationists.
The theme for the men’s rally was “Study to show thyself approved.” Following an inspirational challenge by Bell, the men received free Bible study and resource materials to share in their communities.
As the women gathered to celebrate “Beautiful feet” at their rally, Lt. Colonel Debora Bell reminded them that even though life is often difficult, they have victory in the Lord and need to be “women of warfare,” sharing the gospel at every opportunity.
Young Salvationists participated in the praise band and special youth meetings. During the Community Care Ministries luncheon, seven young people ranging in age from 11-17 received recognition for their practical expressions of Christian love through service in their communities.
On Sunday, Salvationists and friends of the Army promoted to Glory in the past year were each mentioned by name and honored during a memorial service. Many people responded to the altar call following Bell’s message.
Perhaps Major Sheryl Tollerud best summarized the congress theme “From the mountains to the sea” in her welcoming remarks: “While we anticipate the congress weekend will be a mountaintop experience, my prayer is that each will also plunge into the depths of the sea to fully experience God’s love and grace.”
Plans are underway for next year’s Alaska Congress, which will be held in Klawock.