Immanuel Presbyterian Church Anchorage Visions of the Past - a Brief 25 Year History Written by Patti Collins, 1986
In the beginning...
In the beginning, Immanuel United Presbyterian Church was a mission church, supported financially by the Presbyterian denomination. Monies were received directly from the denomination, made possible, in part, by gifts from sponsoring churches.
These included the following:
Sometime in the early 1960s, Immanuel became self-supporting. This meant that they were now financially independent; on their own; and would start giving back to the denomination what had been given to them. They could now become a sponsoring church.
In 1965, Immanuel made application for a grant/loan in the sum of $100,000 with which to begin building additional facilities. These facilities would become the education wing of the church, which now includes classrooms, our library, the Chapel, and the office. This money was made possible through the denomination's Fifty Million fund. Sponsoring churches designated this sum of money for use in expansion of local churches' facilities. The grant/loan was approved, and ground was broken in 1968. Preliminary structural work was done by contractors, with the church's own members supplying the labor and hard work to finish the interior.
Also in 1965, the first classes of the Seminary of the Church (SOTC) were held. This was and continues to be a very special and unique ministry at Immanuel - an ecumenical center for adult study. Opportunity is provided to investigate not only the nature and relevance of the Christian faith, but sources of truth that are found in the world's living religions, philosophies, and the various academic disciplines wherever the search may lead. It is a fellowship of learning.
The SOTC is a center that provides opportunity for the student to gain understanding of himself as he seeks to develop his particular lifestyle.
The SOTC is a center that provides the tools, the direction and the encouragement that will enable the student to express his growing faith in the world in which he lives.
Persons attending the classes and events of the SOTC have always been encouraged to be candid; to express their beliefs or lack of them; to speak up, ask questions, and to "discover" and think for themselves.
SOTC instructors have come from a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles, and have all been highly qualified, bringing with them a wide variety of topics and classes throughout the years.
In Immanuel's 25 years, there have only been two full time pastors. The Rev. Hal N. Banks served in our pulpit from June 1, 1960 until he retired July 31, 1980 and moved to Roswell, New Mexico. A committee was formed after that to find a new pastor for our church. It took some time, but the committee finally found the best man for the job. The Rev. Richard Madden was called, accepted, and became the new pastor on March 29, 1981. He and his family have become a very special and important part of this family community we call Immanuel.
So...this is the end of our first quarter of a century...but it is really only the beginning...so much more can happen! We've come a long way...from a school room to our own property and facilities...from a mission church to a self-supporting church...with God's love and guidance, and the support and hard work of each and every member of this congregation, we can go another 25 years ...looking forward to bigger and better things in the future!
Since the completion of the above, The Rev. Richard Madden transferred to Inland Empire Presbytery February 15, 1990 to accept a pastorate in Spokane. He is currently (1998) the pastor at the Pinetop, AZ, Presbyterian Church.
The Rev. Jay OlsonKetchum of the Uniting Church of Canada was called as pastor September 15, 1991; installed November 3, 1991. She continues to serve the congregation today and has successfully initiated a major redevelopment effort to expand the influence of the church throughout the immediate area, the community, and the state.
The Rev. Dianne Anderson O'Connell, a member of Immanuel, attended seminary and returned in the fall of 1987 to accept a position as tent-making associate pastor at Immanuel and to serve as executive director of the Seminary of the Church. She was ordained November 15, 1987. She served in the unpaid position for one year until accepting a position as chaplain with University Community Ministries. O’Con-nell has since served as chaplain for the Alaska Psychiatric Institute for two years and is currently a certified chaplain at Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage.
In the spring of 1998, the session of Immanuel Presbyterian Church voted to become a "More Light" church and signed the Call to Covenant Community statement.
The issue facing the Presbyterian Church USA, like all other mainline denominations today, is the proper Christian response to persons we have perceived as unlike ourselves, or persons we have perceived as living outside traditional interpretation of the mores of Scripture and Church. The debate has focused on the ordination of gay and lesbian persons to the service of the church, either as elders, deacons, or Ministers of the Word. The implications of the debate, however, are much more far-reaching.
Immanuel Presbyterian Church held a minority opinion at the Yukon Presbytery level. The good news for them, however, is that fully a third of the presbyteries nationwide support a more open -- read "More Light" -- view on the matter of homosexuality and the church. Those presbyteries, individual churches, and individual members within churches, have joined together to form a Covenant Community -- a Presbyterian community within a community -- dedicated to promoting the concept that God's Grace is for everyone.