Friday, April 11
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The Presbytery of Alaska
Christian missionaries came to Alaska from the East and the West. The Russian Orthodox came first. Later, the tide of westward expansion brought Americans, notably Sheldon Jackson, who like the Russians planted churches, opened hospitals, and established schools. With the sale of Alaska to the United States, Russian influence diminished, but Russian priests served there until 1917.
Young Walter Soboleff first attended the Bishop’s School in Sitka. When it closed, and the Russian priests were withdrawn, he moved to Sheldon Jackson School, just down the beach. In later years, as the beloved pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Juneau, Rev. Soboleff preached in English and Tlingit, and the choir often sang Orthodox choruses, rich in melody and Scripture.
Other missionaries came as well. The work in Kake was begun by The Board of National Missions closed the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Juneau in 1962, and the building was demolished. Rev. Soboleff salvaged the carved sign and gave it to the Kake congregation. On the congregation’s 100th anniversary, the sign was formally dedicated in his memory.
In 2013 the Presbytery of Alaska dismissed six of its congregations to ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, including Memorial Presbyterian Church in Kake. Presbyterians in southeast Alaska now work and pray together in ways not of governance but of mission. For the presbytery, this is a difficult passage. Its call and challenge, in this season of change, is to live for Christ with the joy and fervor of those who have prepared the way.
The Presbytery of Alaska has nine congregations, stretching from Yakutat to Metlakatla.
—David Dobler, pastor to the presbytery
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Almighty God, make us bold daughters and sons of those who have gone before, that continuing in faith and joy we may bring the good news of Jesus Christ to those you love. In the strong name of Jesus we pray. Amen.