Thursday, October 26, 2017

100th Anniversary Celebration at Juneau Christian Center

Juneau Christian Center Past and Present
This past month I had the great privilege of returning to my childhood home for the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Assemblies of God church in Juneau, Alaska, pioneered by my grandparents, Charles & Florence Personeus, in 1917.

I wasn't born there, but I lived in Juneau from my earliest memories until I completed 7th grade. I grew up in this church, so this celebration was especially meaningful to me. All of my spiritual formation took place here, as well as my call to fulltime ministry. Returning for this celebration fulfilled a long-held dream. Since this year my husband and I also celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, we decided this trip was how we would commemorate it too.

What a celebration it was! Here are a few photos (courtesy of the Alaska Ministry Network) of the event held at what is now called Juneau Christian Center.

A banquet at the church kicked off the weekend event.
I was the guest speaker at the banquet. I recalled my memories of growing up in
the Juneau church and shared about my grandparents' call to Alaska and
their 22 years of pioneering the church 
in Juneau (1917-1939).

The entire Alaska Ministry Network flew in for the celebration. Alaska District Superintendent,
Rev. Bill Welch, presented a commemorative plaque to the pastor and his wife,
 Mike & Deenie Rose, who were also celebrating 30 years as pastors at Juneau Christian Center.

The plaque showing the church's previous name
from the former church building was on display.
I brought greetings from my 95-year-old father,
Rev. Robert E.  Cousart, a former member of the
 church, and the First Secretary Treasurer of the
Alaska District

When I concluded my presentation, I challenged everyone to be found
faithful in carrying out the ministry God calls us to do for Him.
Pastor Rose closed in prayer.
On Sunday morning, Pastor Mike Rose preached a powerful
message, "Surging into the Future," a fitting conclusion to
a memorable celebration and a launch into the next 100 years.

Reconnecting with friends from years gone by and making new ones were highlights of our visit.

Even the weather cooperated! Juneau had a rainy summer and rain was forecast for this week too. We landed at the airport in pouring rain. The next morning, though, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted to reveal the tops of the beautiful mountains that surround Juneau, and the sun came out. No rain fell for the next 5 days!

We visited all the scenes of my childhood--the Bethel Beach Children's Home my parents' operated for 5 years had long been demolished to make way for Egan Highway, but I recognized the twin peaks on Douglas Island right across Gastineau Channel from where the home had been.

We drove up Starr Hill past the house we lived in just three houses down from the beginning of the trail up Mt. Roberts. I pointed out Harborview School, where mine was the first 1st grade class to attend there. The 5th Street School, where I went to 3rd-7th grades, is now a vacant lot.

At the old Alaska Coastal Airlines on the waterfront, where my father worked as boss of cargo for the 10 years we lived in Juneau, we ate several times at The Hangar, a restaurant located in that building that overlooks the channel. We especially enjoyed the fresh halibut, my favorite fish.

Funny, how narrow and steep the streets of Juneau are. As a child, I didn't realize that, but then we usually walked everywhere.

Of course, we went to see Mendenhall Glacier, one of the most photographed glaciers in the world. And we drove past Auke Bay and Tee Harbor, where my family picnicked often in those early years, and then out the road as far as it went, where we could see the beginning of Lynn Canal.

One morning we ate sourdough pancakes with Alaskan blueberries. Yum! Our table had a great view of Mt. Juneau towering above the Governor's Mansion. Right across the street from it the house where my Uncle Byron was born in 1918 (the blue house with the square cupola on top) still stands.

Two of my Alaskan Waters novels feature Juneau. The second half of Book Three, Beside Still Waters," is set here. Bob continually asked me, "Is this where Violet did _________?"

It was a week I'll never forget!

My grandparents' story is recounted in my book, Frontiers of Faith. They are also featured in my novels under the fictitious name of Pennington.