50th Anniversary Celebration

First Presbyterian Church, Fairbanks



Those we feel we know:

First row: Left, L. David Cowie,* the two gentlemen in the middle are Earl Jackman and Bert Bingle.

Second row: The first three women are Virginia Alfsen, Alice Green, and Inez Parkko. The next two are mysteries. The sixth is Ms. Champion; the seventh, Mable Bingle; and the last Harry Champlin.

Third row: the woman in the white blouse is Ms. Green from Fairbanks.

Back row: sixth from left is Mr. DeMott; next to him is Rolland Armstrong, and the three men are Vic Alfsen, Fred Koschman, and Hackett Johnson.

* Ardelle Cowie, daughter of L. David Cowie, wrote the Presbytery on July 5, 2012, to identify her father in this photograph.  If you know the identity of an unidentified person in this photograph or any other photo in this manuscript, please let us know.

Fiftieth Anniversary

Presbytery of Yukon


 In connection with the 50th Anniversary of the Presbytery celebration held in Fairbanks in 1949, it was decided to authorize the host pastor, Harry Champlin, to edit a short history of the Presbytery, to formulate the anniversary program and to select an official speaker, keeping the New York office posted. 

The Stated Meeting Presbytery was held in First Presbyterian Church, Fairbanks, March 24-28, 1949. Dr. L. David Cowie of the University Presbyterian Church of Seattle, WA, preached at the opening service of the 50th Anniversary. 

Present: Revs. Victor Alfsen, R.R. Armstrong, B.J. Bingle, N. Harry Champlin, Carl DeMott, J. Hackett Johnson, Fred Koschmann, and Samuel Lee. Absent: Revs. Roy Ahmaogak, J. Condit, Percy Ipalook, J. McBride, and E.E. Parker. 

Churches represented: Anchorage, Faith, O. Murray Olson; Fairbanks, First, Edgar Philleo; Palmer, W. Mau; Wasilla, Mrs. Peter Nelson. The Moderator also recognized Alice Green, missionary at Savoonga. 

Dr. J. Earl Jackman of the Board of National Missions and of the Presbytery of Jersey City, and Dr. L. David Cowie of the Presbytery of Seattle were enrolled as corresponding members.

Mr. J. Hackett Johnson of the Presbytery of Los Angeles was enrolled as of March 14, 1949.

Wasilla Community Church was enrolled as of April 18, 1948.

Field reports were read from members who could not be present. Rev. Parker reported satisfactory program on St. Lawrence Island. Roy Ahmaogak told of growing interest in Wainwright. And from Wales, Percy Ipalook cited increased attendance. Next, Alice Green, Savoonga, told of her work. She said there were serious moral problems among the Natives. For the first time the Natives are hunting on Sunday. Liquor, still strongly opposed by the older men, may soon be a problem for the younger men. Smoking has become almost universal among the children since white men had given cigarettes to them. On a cheerful note, Miss Green reported tuberculosis cases were declining. 

Rev. Sam Lee of Barrow told of the changes to the people and the church, due to the U.S. Navy locating nearby and giving work to the Eskimos. The economy is moving away from hunting and fishing. The changes have brought moral and spiritual problems. Had the people not had the spiritual background, Rev. Lee felt there would have been more problems. Soon the church would be ready to go self-supporting. Thirty-five new members were received this year on confession of faith. Also, Barrow church hopes to complete a new sanctuary this year.

Rev. Lee also reported the need for a church to be organized at Barter Island, where Elder Akootchook is holding services and teaching. Possibly a small building could be obtained from the Army. He also told of the work at Meade River Coal Mine, Kitlick, and Skull Cliff. An airplane or snowmobile is available through funds collected in New Jersey. 

Chaplain Wilson of the Presbytery of Logansport, Indiana, was enrolled as a corresponding member.

Rev. DeMott reported that while Cordova is a town of only 1,600, there are eight religious groups working. Though an interdenominational prayer group has been organized, it is difficult to see spiritual growth. Rev. DeMott moved that First Presbyterian Church of Cordova be granted permission to change its name to Community Presbyterian Church of Cordova. It was granted.

Rev. Fred Koschmann said Faith Church continues to grow. He reported holding Daily Vacation Bible Schools at Spenard, Government Hill, Chugiak and at Faith. Hackett Johnson reported the work in Woodland Park was progressing, and a woman's group had been organized.

Rev. B.J. Bingle reported he has three preaching points on the railroad and five on the highway.

Rev. Alfsen was very happy and pleased with his work at Palmer. Wasilla, however, is a difficult station. A lot has been purchased at Wasilla for a church there. Plans are to build a basement this summer. 

A motion was passed to ask Dr. Jackman to pay for a copy of the film "Northern Outpost" and, that half the cost be apportioned among churches wishing to use it.

Rev. R.R. Armstrong reported for Anchorage, First. A St. Andrew's Society for lay evangelism was organized and is showing worthwhile results. Henry Sogn, Clerk of Session, resigned after 26 years of service. The Stated Clerk was instructed to convey Presbytery's good wishes on his years of service.

Elder George Strickland, from Healy, presented a petition from a group of Christian men and women living along the Alaska Railroad who had organized themselves into a religious unit known as the "Alaska Railroad Mission - Presbyterian" with headquarters at Healy Fork. The petition asked Presbytery to take them under its care and enroll them as a member church. The motion was passed to accept the petition with the suggestion that the name be changed to the "Railbelt Church." Rev. Bingle was appointed Stated Supply and the people congratulated on this forward step.

Dr. J. Earl Jackman brought greetings from the Board to the 50th Anniversary meeting of the Presbytery of Yukon. He told them this was also the 50th Anniversary of the work in the West Indies. He brought greetings to the Barrow church, too, on its 50th Anniversary. Dr. Jackman praised the work being done in the Presbytery and by each member. It had been recommended that the period of service on the Arctic be reduced to three years with six months furlough. He cautioned the men in regard to all applications for aid. All money for building aid, grant loans, loans, and grants come from a limited fund. All requests must be in early and properly filled out.

Miss Ellanore Ewing, Western Area Secretary for Women's Work, spoke on the work she represents. She complimented the women and the churches on the quality of work done in the Presbytery. Last year women gave one million dollars to each mission board and $800,000 to Christian Education.

Recommendations of the National Missions Committee: 

1. That the Board of National Missions continues to cooperate with the community of Palmer for the eventual erection and maintenance of a hospital.

2. That every effort be made to provide the Anchorage area with extra staff for the summer.

3. That Woodland Park project be given help financially.

4. That aid be given Palmer Church for completion of the church basement.

5. That aid be given in finding a new location for the Faith church and manse.

6. That a worker be found for the College area, and a residence be found for the Bingles in Fairbanks.

7. That the Board consider the immediate needs of the Barrow church.

8. That aid be given the work at Tok. 

Commissioners elected to attend General Assembly: Rev. Armstrong, principal; Rev. Parker, alternate. Elder-principal, Palmer, with an elder from Savoonga to be alternate. Motion passed to have committee on by-laws consider a better order for elder delegates. Rev. Champlin was chosen to be Commissioner to Synod.

The Chairman of Christian Education reported that Daily Vacation Bible Schools had been held at five camps. He suggested to the Chaplain at Ladd Air Force Base the idea of quarterly retreats for the men in service. One has been held and two more are planned. 

The Westminster Fellowship of the Presbytery was organized during King's Lake Youth Camp in 1948.

Recommendations from the Christian Education Committee: 

1. That a committee be formed for clearance of the twenty or more acres on the far side of Harding Lake for youth encampments of the Fairbanks area, the property to be held in the name of the Presbytery of Yukon.

2. That a busload of young people be taken to the National Westminster Fellowship to be held again at Grinnell next year

3. That we go on record favoring a Junior Christian College in the Anchorage area if it does not jeopardize our existing church activities.

4. That we recommend the following to the order of the Celtic Cross: Victor Carl Urban, William Campbell Ware, Robert Brown Lantz, Raymond Reese, Miss Shirley Jeanne Sutton, and Joseph Chester Smith. And, that Miss Shirley Tonseth be recommended, pending session action, to be taken under care of Presbytery. 

Percy Ipalook was enrolled. 

A committee of Revs. Armstrong, Alfsen, and Bingle was appointed to report on the Synod of Alaska question.

The Alaskan film "Northern Outpost" was shown at the Sunday evening service.

 A discussion was had concerning incorporation of the Presbytery. A committee was appointed to report and have all papers ready at the next meeting.

Rev. Hackett Johnson presented a petition from the people worshipping at Woodland Park requesting Presbytery to organize them into a church, to be known as Woodland Park Presbyterian Church.

Rev. Armstrong reported on the Synod of Alaska. The Presbytery of Alaska had sent the necessary papers for formation of a Synod with the information that division of the Presbytery of Alaska would take place. He moved to concur and the motion passed unanimously.

Dr. Jackman reported that provision was made in the 1949 budget for a field representative for Alaska. To avoid possible administrative problems, the Board decided it best not to choose someone from Alaska.

Rev. Bingle was praised for his 21 years of service.

Mr. Virgil Stone was enrolled as delegate from Anchorage First.

Mrs. Champlin reported on Presbyterial's plans for the coming year.

A motion to make Alice Green an elder was tabled until the next stated meeting.

A discussion was held on the "Alaska Presbyterian". Dr. Jackman was asked to convey the ideas expressed.

Victor I. Alfsen, Stated Clerk.


Three additional meetings were held in 1949, at King's Lake, McKinley Park, and Anchorage. To fill out the activities of 1949, these minutes are also offered here.

King's Lake 

There was an adjourned meeting of the Presbytery June 23, 1949. Present: Revs. R.R. Armstrong, B.J. Bingle, N.H. Champlin, F. Koschmann, J.H. Johnson, V.I. Alfsen, and Carl DeMott.

Recommendations from the National Missions Committee: 

1. That a grant be made to Wasilla Church of $500 to complete work on the building.

2. That the United Protestant Church of Palmer be given an additional loan of $3,000 to complete present construction.

3. That the trustees of Presbytery be authorized to take appropriate action toward purchasing property in Mountain View (Anchorage).

4. That Presbytery accept property held by B.J. Bingle at Tok Junction when title is clear.

5. That $1,000 be granted to the work at Tok for a building to satisfy the land office.

6. That George Strickland, Elder in the Railbelt Church, be taken on as a full-time Christian worker under the supervision of Rev. Bingle.

7. Faith Church be granted permission to incur an indebtedness not to exceed $8,500.

8. That Presbytery request the pastor in Palmer to contact the Board in connection with the hospital situation in that town. 

The Cordova Hospital situation was discussed at length. Action was postponed until a time the intent of the Northern Baptist Convention to assume the hospital responsibility could be more clearly stated. A motion was passed to write Dr. Jackman taking exception to the manner in which the matter was handled.

Miss Shirley Tonseth, having the endorsement of the Fairbanks Church session, is now under the care of Presbytery.

Rev. B.J. Bingle presented a petition from the people of the College area to be organized into a church to be known as the University Community Church, Presbyterian. The petition was received and Rev. Bingle appointed Stated Supply of the congregation when organized.

Presbytery strongly reiterated its belief in the urgency of securing a field representative for Alaska!

Victor I. Alfsen, Stated Clerk


McKinley Park

 An adjourned meeting of the Presbytery was held at McKinley Park Hotel August 3-4, 1949. Present: Revs. Armstrong, Bingle, Champlin, Koschmann, and Alfsen. Excused: Rev. DeMott.

A scholarship application from Virginia Carle had been approved by the Christian Education Committee.

 The Presbytery met next as the civil corporation. The bylaws, which had been prepared by attorney Raymond Plummer of Anchorage, were read and adopted.

 Conveyance of lots held by Revs. Armstrong and Koschmann in Woodland Park to Yukon Presbytery, Inc. was approved.

George Strickland was willing to begin work on the Railbelt September 1. Miss Dorothy Cole had been working with Rev. Bingle all summer and would complete the work August 14.

Rev. Champlin reported that the plane for Barrow, a Piper Clipper, donated by the Haddonfield, New Jersey, church had been received. He also requested the pastoral relationship between him and the Fairbanks church be dissolved as of September 1, 1949. He was to be dismissed to the Presbytery of Rio Grande. Rev. Bingle was appointed Moderator of the Fairbanks Church until a minister is installed there, effective September 1, 1949. 

Title for the land at Tok Junction cannot be held in the name of the church, so must remain in Rev. Bingle's name.

Rev. Koschman reported he had received for the Presbytery from the Alaska Railroad two quonset huts and another hut and land on Government Hill, Anchorage. Col. John P. Johnson was to be sent a thank you for these gifts and for his helpfulness in yearly transportation for the young people to King's Lake Camp.

Ernest V. Anderson, a soldier active in the Anchorage church, was taken under care of Presbytery pending session endorsement.

Victor I. Alfsen, Stated Clerk.



 An adjourned meeting was held in First Presbyterian Church in Anchorage on December 12, 1949. Present were Revs. Armstrong, Johnson, Alfsen, and Elder Mau from Palmer.

A request was presented from Faith church to dissolve the pastoral relationship between itself and Fred Koschmann. Rev. Fred Koschmann had been called to First Church at Fairbanks, and a request was presented for his installation January 11, 1950. 

A letter from Rev. Carl DeMott on the hospital situation in Cordova was read. It revealed a willingness on the part of the Cordova congregation to become affiliated with the American Baptist Missionary Society if they take over the hospital in Cordova. Presbytery action was delayed pending outcome of a meeting of the Cordova Hospital stockholders on December 20, 1949.

Victor I. Alfsen, Stated Clerk.

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