Reclaimed for the kingdom
Kodiak Corps takes a look back in time.
Snatched from the grip of the devil—such is the history of the property that now houses the Kodiak Corps, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in November 2011.
In 1976, Major Arthur Smith, then Alaska’s divisional commander, asked Lieutenant Craig Fanning, then in his first appointment at the Kenai Peninsula Corps, if he would be interested in someday opening the work in Kodiak.
Although it took a while, events unfolded—in God’s time—that brought about the corps’ opening. Unknown to everyone, a local resident, Nina Galbreth, had been praying constantly that God would redeem the Beachcomber Bar—favorite hangout of Kodiak’s crab fishing fleet—known for rowdy parties and a raucous atmosphere.
By 1991 the bar had become a strip club, and Galbreth and others prayed that God would redeem this ground. The battle had been waging for more than 15 years when Major Olin Hogan, the new divisional commander, called on a former officer to open a corps in Kodiak. He didn’t know that this was the same young lieutenant who had been approached 15 years previously.
Envoys Craig and Jeanne Fanning moved to Kodiak and began searching for a location. “We didn’t know that Nina had been praying for decades about the property,” Fanning said, “but I was drawn to the old Beachcomber, spending each lunchtime sitting outside the bar, praying that God would give this property to The Salvation Army.”
Months later, the owner of the Beachcomber called Fanning and said he was willing to sell. Although excited at first, Fanning realized that the asking price was far more than the Army would consider. After much negotiation, feeling that perhaps it wasn’t God’s plan for a corps in Kodiak, the owner made his final offer of $750,000. Territorial headquarters accepted this offer, and The Salvation Army had a home. For the 20th anniversary observance, Corps Officer Major John Quinn invited the Fannings, currently corps officers (again) at Kenai Peninsula, to join the festivities. Community leader retired Coast Guard Commander Jimmy Ng presented a history of the facilities. He quoted James 5:16: The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective, emphasizing Galbreth’s prayers.
Divisional Commander Major George Baker spoke on moving the battle forward, and relying on God’s faithfulness. Fanning’s Sunday morning message was “Back to the Future.” Citing Genesis 35, he encouraged everyone to recommit his or her life to God.
Reflecting on the weekend, Fanning said, “We may never know what our corps were in their previous lives, or how the work in our communities started. But I learned this weekend that someone prayed, and God answered.
“Whatever God places on our hearts, keep praying.”
Kodiak, Alaska, population 6,357 (July 2009), is one of seven communities and the main city on Kodiak Island in southern Alaska. In the native language, “Kadiak” means island. English Captain James Cook first penned “Kodiak” in his journals in 1778.
Alutiiq natives inhabited the area for over 7,000 years before Russian immigrants settled there in the 18th century, when the city became the capital of Russian Alaska. Kodiak became a commercial fishing center after the U.S. acquired it with the Alaska Purchase in 1867. Fishing remains the basis of its economy, with tourism a lesser, though important, influence.
As of 2009 the demographic makeup was 40.5 percent White, 36.4 percent Asian, 10.9 percent Native American, 8.7 percent Hispanic, 1.8 percent two or more races, 1.6 percent Black.