Other Southcentral Ministries
Not all ministries take root and flourish. Here we record some good ideas initiated through the years in the southcentral area that required modification, joint-venturing and/ or outright abandonment.
Mountain View Ministry Discontinued Before It Begins
A plot of ground in the Mountain View Subdivision owned by Norman Lange was purchased March 28, 1950 by the Yukon Presbytery and recorded May 16, 1951. The legal description was "all and the whole of the east two-thirds of the south one-half of Lot 1 in Block 2 of the Norman Lange homestead". "Why isn't anything happening in Mountain View," demanded J. Earl Jackman, Department of Work in Alaska, Board of National Missions, in a letter dated March 18, 1953.
"There is a bill before Congress to permit the Department of Interior to sell us the lots on Government Hill," he noted. "This could take two months to a year. We have $20,000 to build on Government Hill when the land has been cleared."
The National Board of Missions provided $500 to move a quonset hut to the Mountain View property in July of 1953, but the Presbytery decided to try to sell the lots later that year because they believed that the location was poor and needed to be closer to the school.
The Presbytery offered to sell the property back to Norman Lange in a letter dated September 1, 1953, and signed by Fred Koschmann, Victor Alfsen and the Rev. Frank G. Walkup.
Lange wrote back offering to buy it back for $5,700 but the Presbytery refused the offer. The records available do not indicate exactly what happened to the Mountain View property but in November of 1960, the Board of National Missions purchased five acres of land at 24th Avenue and Boniface Parkway for a "south Mountain View" ministry. A congregation was organized at Nunaka Valley School on May 21, 1961, with the Rev. Harold N. Banks as pastor.
Ground was broken for Immanuel Presbyterian Church on September 3, 1961 and the first worship service was held in the new building Christmas Eve, 1961.
Exploring a Ministry at the Anchorage International Airport Early 1970s
The Yukon Presbytery began exploring the possibility of a counseling room or small chapel at the Anchorage International Airport in late 1971. The Synod of Washington-Alaska had $5,500 they were willing to contribute for this type of specialized ministry.
There is correspondence in the files from Gordon Corbett indicating that in March 1973, the airport manager said "no" to the idea, and again in January 1974, the manager further indicated that there was no space available and the new security regulations were going to require utilization of what little space there was. Furthermore, Corbett noted, the airport would charge a rental fee for any such chapel. It was not to happen.
Ministry Re-Opens At Willow Chapel June 3, 1978
The Willow Presbyterian Chapel at Mile 67.5 on the Parks Highway re-opened its ministry in June of 1978 with Elder Frank Parker of First Presbyterian Church, Anchorage, preaching. A June 3, 1978 Anchorage Daily Times article heralded the event. The Willow chapel dated back to 1960 when the Rev. Claude E. Klaver, then pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Wasilla, began services there as part of his ministry along the Glenn Highway, reaching as far north as Curry. The first service was held in the Giordano home. Later a piece of land was donated to the Presbytery by the Heimbach family and a chapel was built by Klaver and those who had been attending the services.
In 1965, Klaver was called to another ministry Outside and the incoming minister at Wasilla was to concentrate solely on that community. The Willow chapel was closed and the highway ministry was suspended. The re-opening of the Willow ministry seems to be a project of First Presbyterian Church, Anchorage.
United Methodists Take Over Willow Effort 1982
The United Methodist Reporter indicated in its February 19, 1982 edition that two new United Methodist congregations had been organized at Willow and at Trapper Creek as part of the new Parks Highway Parish made possible by the New Ministries Campaign in the Alaska Missionary Conference of that denomination. Although some members and pastors of the Tri-Anchor Ecumenical Parish had met for worship with residents of Trapper Creek, there had been no United Methodist or other mainline denominational presence along the 289 miles of the Parks Highway, north of Wasilla to Fairbanks, for many years, the article stated. The Rev. Jack and Mrs. Eva Christian were to serve the ministry.
The Methodists approached the Presbytery in a letter dated June 7, 1982, requesting to purchase the Willow chapel. After a period of negotiations, the sale was consummated.
Church of the Epiphany Organizes in Valdez: A Project of the Alaska Council of Churches
The Alaska Council of Churches saw that there was no mainline denominational presence in the community of Valdez and began work organizing an ecumenical effort there -- resulting in the opening of the Church of the Epiphany on August 7, 1968. The Rev. Dale G. Sailes was pastor, but an inter-denominational pulpit exchange was envisioned. The Rev. Dick Madden, writing from Palmer on April 1, 1969, indicated to Dale Sailes that the Yukon Presbytery did, indeed, wish to participate in the Valdez venture. Madden was moderator of the ministerial relations committee. There were some technicalities to be worked on, however.
"It may be that the Presbyterian members of your church can be brought into the membership in the Presbytery and subsequently be made affiliate members of the Church of the Epiphany," Madden wrote. "This would allow Presbytery to appoint and ordain elders from the Presbyterian membership who will sit as a Session and elect Commissioners to our Presbytery...." Mrs. John (Jessie) DeVries, Mission Strategy and Evangelism Committee moderator for the Presbytery, was also involved and there was some Presbyterian financial support for the mission.
The Rev. John H. Emmert followed Sailes as pastor of the Church of the Epiphany in June of 1973.
At the height of its ecumenical involvement, five different denominations were involved with the Church of the Epiphany – the Episcopalians, the Methodists, the Northern Baptists, the Presbyterians, and the Christian Church.
Today (1998), it is solely a ministry of the Episcopalian Church.
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