Trinity Presbyterian Church Anchorage
Trinity was the first congregation to respond to a request for a locally written church history for these pages during the summer of 1997. It arrived unsigned.
In 1960 Trinity Church became a reality with the merger of Faith Presbyterian Church and Woodland Park Presbyterian Church. In 1947, Faith Church was started at 12th and Denali in downtown Anchorage in a small concrete and block building. Fred Koschmann was the first pastor. In 1949, Woodland Park was established with the building of a small log building.
By 1950, Faith had moved over to 14th and Gambell and built a log church. Both of these churches came into being with a lot of volunteer help, as people of all ages participated. Fred Koschmann and Roland Armstrong (both pastors) were active in the building of both churches.
By 1959, it was evident that the location of Faith Church was not suitable for a growing church. At the same time, Woodland Park needed to expand to care for all the families there. A merger was planned with the idea of relocating to a more central area, convenient for all.
In 1960, we became Trinity and worshipped at the former Woodland Park Church. (The Rev. Ralph Weeks, the immediate past pastor at Woodland Park, was chosen as transitional pastor for Trinity, installed May 11, 1960. His relationship with the church was dissolved March 12, 1970, in order for him to accept position as Arctic Parish Director. Editorís note.)
Even in 1960, the cost of relocating was considered more than we could handle. We then set out on an extensive building program that enlarged the sanctuary and also built a fellowship hall and a two story Christian Education building (wing). This plant was well used by many people for a number of years. The neighborhood changed and the children grew up. Some of our older members retired and moved Outside. The membership declined to a rather small core of active members.
The Rev. Thomas B. Handley was installed as pastor October 18, 1970. In August 1980, we were asked by the Synod office (Gordon Corbett) to consider a move to south Anchorage where a Presbyterian Church was needed. For some of us it was a tearful decision. We did vote to move and the months went by as we looked at property and church plans.
Our final service at the old location was in June 1981. During that month there was a groundbreaking service at the new location. Very slowly, it seemed, the building progressed.
On Christmas Eve 1981, we concluded our candle light service in the shell of the new sanctuary. In the interim we met in the gym of the Huffman school and each week we needed more chairs for all who came to worship. It has been a loving experience for us as this continues.
Saturday, April 3, 1982 found a great many people at the new church polishing and cleaning to make ready for our first service the next day. We were blessed with more people than we had room for. On Sunday afternoon, May 2, the dedication of the church took place preceded by the blessing of every room in the building. It was a beautiful service culminated by a real Scottish band in full dress. This part of the service was a wonderful surprise to most of us.
And we continue to grow!
Answers to Specific Questions Asked:
1. What was the reason that a Presbyterian Church was started in your area?
Woodland Park and Faith Presbyterian were both churches started by First Presbyterian Church of Anchorage. They picked neighborhoods which were growing at the time.
2. From where did most of the charter members originate?
3. What were the names of the Charter Members? Other key people?
Vincents, Griffins, Gustafsons, Rohwers, Ed and Bernice Bantz (Woodland Park). Myron and Lynn Stevens, Ruth Willits, Marjean Dunaway, McCulloughs (Faith).
4. Names of Pastors serving Church:
Woodland Park: Hackett Johnson, 1949-1954; Ralph Weeks, 1954-1960.
Faith Presbyterian: Fred Koschmann, 1947-1949; Fred Telecky, 1950- 1953; Winthrop Ware, 1953-1954; John Seibert, 1943-1957; Lowell McAfee Campbell, 1957-1960.
Trinity Presbyterian: Ralph Weeks, 1960-1970; Robert Porter, interim 1970; Thomas Handley, 1970-1975; George Myers, interim 1975; Stanton McClenny, 1975-1977; Dan Leighton, 1977-1982; Aaron Carland, interim 1982-1983; George Gilchrist, 1983- present; David Pierson, associate pastor, 1992- present.
5. Names of Ministerial Candidates from Your Congregation?
Kristin Handly, Barrie Colyar and Bob Lantz.
6. and 7. Theological and/or Social Issues faced by your congregation?
Abortion, Re-Imagining Conference, Ordination of Homosexuals and Sanctity of Marriage.
8 and 9. Special Ministries and/or Projects of your congregation?
Youth and Family Ministry, High School Mission trips to Mexicali Mexico and Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, Mission trips to Albania. Holding services for the Anchorage Rescue Mission and serving lunches at Beans Cafe.
10. For what would your congregation most like to be remembered by future generations?
Ministry to youth and families and missions both locally and overseas and Christian Education for both youth and adults.
The Rev. George Gilchrist was installed as pastor April 24, 1983, and serves in that capacity today. The Rev. Ralph Weeks became Pastor Emeritus and continues to attend Trinity.
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