Big Delta Presbyterian Church

Delta Junction

 

June 2001: Delta Presbyterian has announced the call of their new pastor, the Rev. Carin Bjorn von Letzendorf, otherwise known as "Pastor Bear." The Rev. SoonAe Carpenter,"contract pastor" for the Korean congregation, will also continue to serve the church.

Delta Presbyterian and Faith Lutheran, PO Box 884, Delta Junction, AK 99737

Telephone and FAX: 907-895-4322

E-mail: dfaith@wildak.net

pastoralaskabear@hotmail.com

Website: www.wildak.net/deltafaith

 

The Delta work grew out of the Alaska Highway ministry began by the Rev. Bert Bingle in 1942. It eventually took on a life of it’s own and is the only work remaining today in the area. Today, the church also serves a Korean community, composed originally of military wives from nearby Fort Greeley.

The church is about to embark upon a unique ministry with the Lutherans in the area. The church serves a community which encompasses an area within a 50 mile radius of the church, home to approximately 3,000 persons. The population of the City of Delta Junction itself was 652 in 1990 and 855 in 1997.

The Delta Junction Presbyterian Church and the Faith Lutheran Church entered into a partnership during 1998 and are seeking a parttime pastor willing to serve both congregations, meeting in the same building (the Delta Presbyterian Church), the Lutherans worshiping at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday and the Presbyterians worshiping at 11:00 a..m. on Sunday. The two congregations are willing to consider either a Lutheran or a Presbyterian candidate.

The small Korean Presbyterian congregation will continue to worship in in their own language a separate chapel on the Presbyterian property under the leadership of their own Korean pastor, the Rev. Soon Ae Carpenter.

In 1998, the Presbyterian membership stood at 34: including twelve adult men, nineteen women (including six Korean women), three youth, and eight non-member youth.

Average attendance on a Sunday morning sees about 22 Lutherans, 20 to 25 Presbyterians, plus six Koreans. It is an interesting combination, and a possible model for other small congregations in rural areas.

The Rev. Soon Ae Carpenter

An interesting future to come, and an interesting past, as well. How did it all begin?

After the morning worship on Sunday, March 14, 1954, a meeting was held in the Big Delta Presbyterian Chapel to discuss the matter of becoming an organized church. Those attending were:

Mr. A.A. McGilvray

Mr. S. R. Buck

Sgt. A. H. Heath

Ralph H. Weeks, pastor

Because of its unusual situation as a missionary church and in order to perform the functions of a church efficiently and because of the complications caused in recordkeeping at the First Presbyterian Church in Fairbanks, it seemed imperative to organize, the group decided.

According to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church USA under such circumstances it is permissible for a missionary pastor to organize his church and then to report such actions at the next meeting of presbytery..... It was decided to bring the matter before the congregation...

Another planning meeting was held March 21, and following the Sunday morning worship service April 4, a formal meeting was held, a petition drawn up, and officers elected.

Because of their small number, the congregation determined that those elected as elders would also serve as trustees. The elder/trustees elected were A.A. McGilvray, S.R. Buck, and Sgt. A.H. Heath. The men were ordained and installed April 25, 1954.

Those persons signing the organizing petition were: 

A.A. McGilvray

Mary E. McGilvray

William Johnson

Audrey J. Johnson

Caroline A. Weeks

Louise M. Weeks

Aulick H. Heath

Minnie S. Heath

Gertrude E. Grizz and

Dale F. Massey

Norma L. Massey

Betty L. Glover

Ben F. Glover

Stanley R. Buck

John H. Hummel

Katherine F. Hummel

Ralph H. Weeks, missionary pastor.

Young Neil Munro was pastor serving the Fairbanks area service personnel and the Big Delta Church in April 1956. Munro was later to become the executive presbyter for the Presbytery of Yukon. In his written report for that year, Munro provided many details regarding construction of the foundation for the manse, a project completed with the assistance of the Army Engineers. A Children’s Choir was also started that year. But the biggest event for the Big Delta church in 1956 was the opening of the Hospitality Center. GIs and their wives helped paint and fix furniture for the center. Earl Jackman apparently contributed a TV set for the center, given to him by Art Linkletter after Jackman had appeared on Art’s House Party the previous June. The center was complete with games, a shuffle board and ping pong table. The project was a means of practical outreach in the community. The only recreation off the Ft. Greeley base was found in the many bars along the highway.

Whole families come for the evening and have a grand time, Munro reported. 

Who Followed Whom…


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