Klawock hosts Alaska Congress

Annual celebration of Army heritage and Native culture

Congress leaders at Totem Park: Captains Ronnie & Debra Davis; Majors Dough & Sheryl Tollerud; Lt. Colonels Sharron and Dave Hudson; Rachael Nickerson & CSM Jeff Nickerson; Joan Smith

The 2009 Salvation Army Alaska Congress took place under sunny skies—a blessing in Southeast Alaska—in Klawock, where Divisional Leaders Majors Doug and Sheryl Tollerud, Klawock Corps Officers Captains Ronnie and Debra Davis, and delegates welcomed Lt Colonels David and Sharron Hudson—territorial secretary for personnel and Community Care Ministries secretary, respectively—to their first Alaska Congress. Other guests included Cadet (now Lieutenant) Stephanie Garcia, members of the Tustin Ranch (Calif.) mission team, and Bandmaster Neil Smith and the brass ensemble.

A genuine spirit of warmth characterized the weekend, thanks to the efforts of the Davises and their planning committee—Corps Sergeant-Major Jeff Nickerson, Rachael Nickerson, Joan Smith, Mary Guthrie and JayRay McCrady—who designed an event that welcomed the entire community. Klawock Mayor Don Marvin attended every Congress meeting.

On Friday, during a “time of reinforcing,” officers and soldiers participated in training sessions focusing on evangelism, youth and women’s ministries and concluding with a time of dedication, when each person was challenged to share what they had learned with those in their home corps.

The Welcome Meeting signaled the official opening of congress events, beginning with the procession of flags and banners representing each corps present. The Heenya Kwaan Dancers performed traditional native dances and even recruited a few helpers from the audience to do the “Tlingit twist.”

Saturday’s celebration began with the men, women and youth gathering simultaneously for their respective rallies. The Community Care Ministries luncheon honored its members, with certificates presented to those with five or more years of service and special recognition for Fred John and Joan Smith, each of whom has served 40 years. Later, three teams competed in the Southeast Bible Bowl playoffs, with the Gateway Corps crowned Southeast champion. The day concluded with fellowship and praise as new members joined the ranks of the Army.

Sunday provided a time for reflection and remembrance of Salvationists and Army friends promoted to Glory in the past year. After Hudson’s message, many came to the altar seeking renewal and healing. During the World Service ingathering and farewell meeting Alaska Salvationists expressed deep appreciation to the Tustin Ranch mission team, which has shared its time, talents and treasure throughout the Alaska Division for more than 20 years—repairing and rebuilding facilities and sharing its practical ministry with the people of Alaska.

Alaska Congress is a time of renewing old friendships and establishing new ones. It’s a time for sharing, encouraging and healing. But most of all, it’s a time for Salvationists to celebrate their heritage and to refresh their spirit by praising the Lord.
Submitted by Jenni Ragland

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