Monday, July 16, 2012

St. Timothy's Church in Tanacross celebrates 100th anniversary


Current church, dedicated in 1981
I spent the day at Tanacross yesterday. The people of Tanacrosss, along with friends from all over Interior Alaska, were celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church there. St. Timothy’s was one of several missions established by the Episcopal Church in the Tanana Valley to serve the Athabascan Indians.

The church we celebrated in is actually a re-creation of the original church across the river. For a variety of reasons the community relocated from the north bank to the south bank of the Tanana River in the early 1970s. Once at the new location residents pitched in and built a new church patterned after the old one.

Old church, built in 1920s
After yesterday morning's church service, we, along with other attendees, were given the privilege of going across the river to see the old church. (There is no bridge across the river. We had to go by boat.) 

As you can see from the photos, the old and new churches look much alike. The old church is still in decent shape and I believe the Episcopal Diocese is planning to preserve it. 

Dedication page of church bible
The church’s original bible is still sitting on the altar of the old church. The dedication page in the bible says the first service at Tanacrosss (then called Tanana Crossing) was held September 25, 1912.   

I came cross a letter from one of the first missionaries to Tanacross. The missionary writes that they poled a loaded boat up the Tanana River, leaving McCarty Station (now Big Delta State Historical Park) on September 8th, and arriving at Tanacross on September 25th. They held the community’s first service that same day.

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