Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Year of Anniversaries

The purchase that enlarged the United States by one-fifth
Today is the Alaska Purchase Sesquicentennial 
This year, Alaska celebrates the 150th anniversary of its purchase from Russia by the United States (1867-2017). March 30, 1867, U. S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and Russian Foreign Minister Eduard de Stoeckl signed the 1867 Treaty of Cession, by which Russia agreed to sell Russian America to the United States for $7.2 million. April 9, the U. S. Senate ratified the treaty by a 37-2 vote. May 28, President Andrew Johnson signed the ratification, and on October 18, the formal transfer took place at Sitka, where the American flag was first raised in Alaska. Since 1917, Alaskans have celebrated October 18 as Alaska Day. Often referring to Alaska as "Seward's Folly," most American's had no idea what a bargain the purchase was. Gold taken out of the Treadwell Gold Mine in Juneau between 1881 and 1922 alone more than yielded the purchase price.

2017 is a year of anniversaries for us too. 

My husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. But that's not all.

Fifty years ago this May 22, we graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), which marks the 100th anniversary of its founding this year (1917-2017).

At commencement, Bob also received a regular commission in the U. S. Army, but he was not called to active duty until September. (At the time, he planned to make the Army his career. But God had different plans. After he spent 6 years on active duty, including a tour in Vietnam, God called him into the ministry. (See previous post, The Real Enemy.)

Our 50th Wedding Anniversary (1967-2017)
Three weeks after we graduated from college, Bob and I got married on June 10, 1967, in Valdez, where my parents were pastoring. Ours was the first wedding held in the new town of Valdez built after the devastating 1964 earthquake made the site of the old town so unstable that the town had to be moved 5 miles away.

50th Anniversary of Fairbanks' Record-breaking Flood. 
That summer, Bob worked for the State of Alaska Highway Department, and I was a cashier at the Alaska Purchase Centennial Exposition on the Chena River in Fairbanks. In August, the Chena River overflowed its banks and flooded the city of Fairbanks. We were flooded out of our house, and my job was gone too. (This story is detailed in my post, Floods, Fires, and Footsteps.)

100th Anniversary of the Alaska Assemblies of God
Even more significant to me and my family is the fact that 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of my grandparents, the Rev. & Mrs. Charles C. Personeus, in Juneau, Alaska, as the first Assemblies of God (AG) missionaries to that territory. The church they founded in Juneau is still a vibrant congregation.

The story of the founding of the Juneau AG church and the first 65 years of the Alaska Assemblies of God is told in my book, Frontiers of Faith. (To order or to read reviews, click here.)

The church has invited me to speak at their celebration this fall of 100 years of continuous ministry of what is now called Juneau Christian Center. What a fitting 50th wedding anniversary trip that will be!

I lived in Juneau from 1948 to 1958. That church is especially significant to me because my spiritual foundation was formed in that church during my crucial grade school years.

Last fall, I edited a book for the Alaska Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, written by Jack Aiken, which recounts the growth of our fellowship in Alaska from one mission station in Juneau to numerous churches and ministries across the Great Land over the past 100 years. The book, Called to the Last Frontier-The Assemblies of God in Alaska 1917-2017, includes biographical accounts of seventy Alaska missionaries. It will be released at the Alaska Ministry Network conference in April in celebration of a their centennial.

The 40th Year of Our Pastoral Ministry in New York State. 
In 1917, my grandparents left from their Bible school in Rochester, New York, to journey to Alaska. In 1977, exactly 60 years later, Bob and I spoke about our call to plant a church in New York at the District Council held in Bethel AG church in Rochester right across the street from the location of the former Rochester Bible Training School.

The 40th Anniversary of Kingsboro Assembly of God in Gloversville, New York
In 1977, we planted the AG church in Gloversville, New York, holding the first Sunday service at the YMCA in September. Nine years later, we purchased the historic Kingsboro Church, which has been its home ever since. This year, the church we planted celebrates 40 years of continuous ministry.

As we look back, our hearts well up with praise. Just as Balaam said of the nation of Israel in his God-inspired oracle in Numbers 23:23, we exclaim,

"Look what God has done!" 

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