Hoonah hosts annual Alaska Congress

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DELEGATES TO THE Alaska Congress march down the main street of Hoonah, Alaska.


The four day Alaska Congress in the small village of Hoonah provided delegates–who arrived by small plane, catamaran and ferries–with a memorable experience.

Colonels Philip and Keitha Needham and Colonels Donald and Esther Sather joined Lt. Colonels Terry and Linda Griffin, divisional leaders, in celebrating 100 years of Army service to the village. Bandmaster Ivor and Janette Bosanko once again blessed the Congress with their musical talents. An ensemble of seven bandsmen from the Sierra Del Mar Division loaned their musical talents to the meetings as well.

The welcome meeting began with a procession of banners from each of the corps, depicting the theme, “Holy is thy Name,” selected by Captain Londa Upshaw, Hoonah corps officer, and the Congress Planning Committee under the leadership of Major Dolores Rivitt (R). Alaska’s native son, Lt. Will Ware (Haines, Alaska), sang the Alaska Flag Song signaling the official beginning of the Congress. Colonel Philip Needham’s message challenged those present to know the glory, grace and governance of Jesus’ holy name.

The Men’s Rally focused on “Carrying the Flame” into the future and being the men God has called them to be. The Women’s Rally centered on world hospitality, the importance of breaking bread together, and closed with Colonel Keitha Needham’s challenge on the need to be spiritually blessed, broken and fed by God.

The theme at the League of Mercy Luncheon was “Joined Hands.” Many certificates, ranging from five to thirty-five years of service, were presented to faithful members. Colonel Esther Sather spoke about Alaska’s League of Mercy members and the creative ways they serve others: from fishing and canning, to berry picking and making jam.

Friday evening was a celebration meeting featuring band music, timbrels and the musical and dramatic talents of the Congress attendees. The Hoonah Presbyterian Church also participated in the musical celebration.

During the World Service ingathering, A/Captains Scott and Barbara Schneider shared their five years of ministry in the Republic of Georgia and the importance of World Services. Memorial gifts totaling $1,543 were gathered, bringing the total Alaska Division World Services contribution to $81,826. The Holy Spirit moved during the vocal selection and once again, the altar was lined with seekers, as it had been in previous meetings. Colonel Philip Needham challenged the delegates to fulfill the commission of Jesus, given in Matthew 28:1.

The Holiness and Memorial Service on Sunday was a reminder of those who have been Promoted to Glory. It was also a challenge for those present to step into the empty shoes and continue bringing the Gospel message across Alaska. Needham’s message was an exhortation to be distinct people of God who know his presence and voice; a people who have removed all hindrances to walk with our Holy God.

The Bosankos were given expressions of love and gratitude for their 20 years of musical ministry to the Congress.

The afternoon finale was capped with rousing singing, testimonies and a march around the hall with the Army flag flying; the band and timbrels were playing, and a holy people were praising their Holy God.

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