Brodin Reports on Alaska Work

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KLAWOCK–Salvationists and friends are helping renovate a corps building.

by Lt. Colonel Harold Brodin – 

The opportunity to minister in the state of Alaska is not only unique, it is a rich and rewarding experience–but one requiring adaptability to achieve success.

In the Southeast, The Salvation Army’s ministry began with the Tlingits–Native Alaskans who were open and hungry for the Gospel. Other tribes such as the Tsimpshian and Haida were also a part of the Army’s early successful ministry.

Later, the Army moved north to the Anchorage area, where stalwart pioneers laid the foundation for a highly successful ministry. In time, a corps was started in Fairbanks and then the Kenai Peninsula was opened, with the Kodiak Corps, which birthed another corps that meets the needs of the large Hispanic community.

There are several characteristics in Alaska affecting officers and their ministry. These include: Isolation–Alaska is a long way from the rest of the territory, and travel can be costly. In addition, some areas are isolated from the rest of Alaska. Some villages have few roads, only one store and no theatres, bowling alleys or fast food outlets. With small populations and nowhere to go, individuals must make real cultural adjustments to live in the small towns or villages. Even in some of the larger communities, the possibilities are limited. Many will travel to Juneau to do personal shopping and take a break from village life.

Seasonal affective disorder can be a problem. During the winter months, daylight hours are minimized and even during daylight, the cloud cover and weather can affect individuals. Common symptoms include sluggishness and depression.

Social and cultural customs are different, and the work of the Salvationist is done in the context of a culture uniquely different from his or her own.

Southeast Alaska

The corps in SE Alaska tend to be similar in economic, cultural and climactic circumstances. There is a large tourism industry in many of the smaller communities during the summer, which is quickly becoming the major economic growth factor. In addition, fishing and lumber have played a large role in the economic development of the region. However, in the past few years there has been a major impact with the lumber mill closures in Wrangell, Ketchikan (Gateway/Saxman Corps) and Sitka. Families have moved from these areas and communities have been economically affected.

The Gateway Corps is closest to the lower 48 states, but is still some 700 miles from Seattle. The community is a favorite for the cruise ships that stop during the tourist season. The corps is located on the main street, not far from the community center and offers a wide range of programs including a daily noon feeding. Majors Brengle and Georgia Navarro are active with corps and community life, and the thrift store helps provide additional funding. Youth programs such as Guards, Sunbeams, YPL, Corps Cadets and Sunday school help meet needs of the younger generation. Holiness meetings, Salvation and Bible study meetings are held and provide spiritual growth opportunities.

The Saxman Corps is just five miles south of the Gateway Corps, and is the only active church in the native village of Saxman. A new modular building contains a chapel and all-purpose area with two small group rooms for meetings and activities. In this native community, the Army is vitally involved with the sharing of the Gospel and meeting the spiritual and cultural needs of the community. The corps is led by Captains Joseph and Gini Thomas, who were appointed there in 1997. Thomas is a Tlingit and has an effective ministry in the community.

The Metlakatla Corps has had a long history in the community, and in recent years has been reopened to provide ministry to the area. Currently, CSM Lyle Horne has been volunteering and continuing the services and programs. The corps building is an historical landmark and has recently been repaired with new foundations and repainted.

The Klawock Outpost was reopened in 1997. A building was purchased and is being remodeled to provide a ministry to youth and adults. A nucleus of Salvationists had been praying for the Army to return and restart the programs that had once been effective in bringing the Gospel to the community. Captain Londa Upshaw is preparing for the dedication of the building and the official opening of the corps. The 1999 Alaska Congress is planned for Klawock and will be a great time of celebration.

The Angoon Corps is a village corps with a unique ministry. The envoys in charge, Rick and Patsy Barton, not only conduct traditional SA meetings, but also minister in practical ways unique to that community. Praying daily over the CB radio for the needs of the community and participation in the search and rescue of fishermen or hunters who are lost or overdue have helped them to have an extended ministry within the entire community. LOM activities include providing berries, fish and meat to the elderly who can no longer provide these staples for themselves.

The Haines Corps has an active ministry with the youth in the community, and continues to provide corps activities and meetings that meet spiritual needs. As in all of the corps, it is the spirit of the soldiers and their faith that make the work and outreach of the Army effective. The highly successful Centennial Congress in Haines was a result of the soldiers, community leaders and elders working together and planning well for the event.

The corps at Sitka has a good building that is well used and provides a place of worship, offices, Home League room, a kitchen and two classrooms. The corps is growing under the leadership of A/Captains Michael and Susan Nute. A building is being remodeled to provide a small thrift store to help with limited finances for this small community with its scenic views of Mt. Edgecumbe.

Wrangell was the location of the first divisional headquarters in Alaska and today has a good ministry within the community. The corps offers regular programming and social services from a building constructed by volunteers from Oakland Citadel 22 years ago. Today, the corps is growing with a great future and ministry as youth and adults unite to serve. The thrift store provides some financial support and the community responds to the practical ministry and message of the gospel under the leadership of Lts. James and Beverley Lloyd.

The corps at Hoonah has taken on new life and is moving forward. Located in an old building with structural and space limitations, the officers, Captains Scott and June Nicloy, along with their soldiers, are moving into the new millennium with vision and determination. They have worked hard in painting, repairing and refurbishing the corps building. The new enthusiasm is bringing a spirit of anticipation for a revival to come to this native village.

The community of Petersburg has been a place of past victories and is again moving ahead for the new millennium. The corps provides good space for meetings and activities. Additionally, a new thrift store building is being built and this will help with the ongoing funding of this corps. Petersburg is known as ‘Little Norway’ and has a strong Scandinavian influence as well Tlingit culture. Youth programs are growing, and the officers are active in the community.

The community of Kake is another Tlingit village where the Army has a vibrant history and a great future.The corps building is older but still serviceable for meetings and activities. Music has played a major part in the past. Today, there are active soldiers who love the Army and its ministry and they are eager to move ahead. The officers, Lts. Wayne and Connie Bruce, are active in the community life and provide spiritual nurture and comfort to Salvationists and the community.

The capital city of Alaska, Juneau, has a key role for the Salvation Army and its ministry in SE Alaska. This community of approximately 30,000 people provides services and support that are not available in many of the smaller communities. The officers in SE Alaska make trips to Juneau to buy supplies and are met and hosted by the corps officers, Majors Neil and Kathy Timpson. This additional ministry is vital to the effectiveness of the Army ministry in this part of the division.

The Juneau Corps is large, with a vibrant tradition and history of ministry and service. It contains a large chapel, offices and all purpose activity rooms and kitchen, which make it possible to have a variety of programs that make an impact in the community.

The Cordova Outpost is operating under the leadership of Envoy Corrine Erickson. Erickson is a longtime resident of Cordova and with her intimate knowledge of the community is making a unique contribution to the religious and social ministry. The outpost is funded by the thrift store and by community support. The corps program is struggling but shows promise. The community is very supportive of The Salvation Army and its ministry and mission.

South Central Alaska

South Central Alaska, including the Kenai Peninsula, is made up of seven corps and two outposts. These corps and outposts serve a population of about 350,000, and are similar to other Salvation Army corps in the Western Territory, facing similar opportunities and difficulties.

The Homer Corps is the most southernly corps on the Kenai Peninsula and is growing under the leadership of Captains Erik and Sylvia Hoogstad. It operates a thrift store and has an active corps and social service program.

The Kenai Peninsula Corps is a thriving corps under the leadership of Captains Troy and Debbie Trickel. They fully utilize their building (built in the early ’90s) with youth programs and a full complement of meetings and activities. The community services includes a very active family services and food distribution program.

Resurrection Bay Outpost is located in the small but growing community of Seward. The outpost is operating in rented facilities and is providing a real ministry and service. This congregation of 15-20 is growing and has great promise.

The Anchorage Citadel Corps is located in downtown Anchorage and has a long tradition of service to this urban community. A strong youth program and a congregation of 35-45 meets the needs for this traditional corps. A Senior feeding program meets daily in the corps building and provides for an outreach to those living in the area.

Also meeting in the Citadel Corps building is the New Hope Corps under the leadership of Envoys Eulie and Penny Wise-Owl. This recovery corps meets the spiritual needs of many in Anchorage who benefit from the special ministry of this corps.

The South Anchorage Corps is the largest corps in the division and has an excellent building for the multi faceted program. Senior and YP corps activities and meetings provide a full slate of programs to meet the spiritual and social needs of the congregation. The small group prayer and Bible study groups are designed to bring spiritual and numerical growth.

Sharing the building is the Anchorage Korean Corps, which has grown to nearly 40 soldiers in nearly three years. The officers, Lts. Ok and Peter Kim, have given leadership and direction to this corps since it was started in 1995. There is a great potential for growth as they look to find and develop a new facility for their corps.

The Mountain View area of Anchorage has been an area that has needed Salvation Army activities and services. An outpost was established in 1996 and is now under the direction of Lt. Hank Derka. The program is developing and within a year we propose to initiate a full corps program.

The Mat-Su Corps is making good progress in the building they just dedicated in the fall of 1997. The corps operates adult and youth meetings and activities, and provides social services and a food distribution program. This corps shows great promise as they move ahead under the leadership of Captains Mark and Martha Davey into the new millennium.

Interior Alaska

The only corps in the state’s interior is Fairbanks. Majors Richard and Debbie Green are giving good leadership and the corps is growing. They provide extensive social services to the area and operate a large thrift store program.

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