Sowing the Seeds
After two years of discussion and prayer among The Rt. Rev. George Harris, 5th Bishop of Alaska; Ed Thielen, then the Dean of the Southcentral Deanery; Ven. Mark Boesser, then Diocesan Resource coordinator and Ven. Norman H.V. Elliott, then Rector of All Saints, Anchorage, the Thielen family accepted the mission to organize an Episcopal Congregation in Eagle River, Alaska.
“The Episcopal Church in Eagle River, began in 1984 at the home of Ed and Ginger Thielen with the gathering of 19 Episcopalians.The following Sunday, 28 of us held our first formal service in the Frontier Mall at the Artist Piano store owned by Dyana and Robert Orrin. Never lacking for music, and with our choice of pianos each Sunday, our greatest challenge was moving all the pianos each week to make room for our chairs, then moving them back in place for business as usual in the store the next week.
Members of the Altar Guild sometimes gasped each time Fr. Boesser led the service. His habit of “leaning” forward on the altar to make a point during a sermon, made the makeshift sawhorse and plywood structure bow significantly. Eventually Leon Greenlund designed a sturdy, yet still portable altar. Our first Baptism was Easter Sunday of our first year.
Our children grew rich in the diversity of our growing congregation. Deacon Bob Franken frequently served communion from his motorized wheelchair and after months of Southcentral clergy taking turns as our service priests, we selected Rev. Norman Nauska, a Tlingit Indian, to serve as our part-time vicar until 1992.
Bishop Harris had so much confidence in this new congregation that he asked us to host the first Southcentral Deanery Bishop's Picnic at Otter Lake. Every congregation in Southcentral was represented, as were all of God’s creatures. As he prepared blessed the elements for communion outside in the sunshine, a large moose sauntered behind the Bishop and the altar, but didn’t stay.
As Christmas rolled around, the many young families in the congregation embraced the idea of a Christmas Pageant, a tradition kept up every year except one, the year of the fire. Young people were important to this congregation from the beginning; a very young mother was told that the sound of children in a congregation meant that we had a church that was alive and growing.
- Mail: PO Box 773223
- Street: 17545 N Eagle River Loop Rd
- Eagle River