Though almost three years away, the Metlakatla Presbyterian Church is preparing to celebrate its centennial. It’s reaching out to those in Southeast and beyond to provide documents and other memorabilia for the celebration.
The community of “New Metlakatla” on Annette Island was founded by missionary William Duncan in 1887. Duncan broke away from the Church of England and established his own, non-denominational church.
The Presbyterian Church in Metlakatla was founded in 1920 by Edward Marsden. Reverend Larry Emery, the church’s current pastor, speaks about Marsden.
“He himself was Tsimshian. He had lived in Metlakatla, Canada, and came with the migration of the Tsimshian people to Metlakatla (Alaska) in 1887. He went on to Sitka to attend the Sheldon Jackson School, then on to the Lower 48 to attend college and seminary.”
Emery says Marsden was a missionary for a number of years, traveling to fishing villages throughout Southeast before settling in Metlakatla and establishing the church.
In 2020, the Metlakatla Presbyterian Church will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and efforts are under way to prepare for that event. Emery says he was surprised to find that few historic records or photos remain at the church.
“So we’re looking for people that might have pictures that were taken at various events throughout the years, pictures of various people who are important in the life of the church, any articles or anything else that they might have that we can put in a memory book at the church, and that we might also use for some sort of publication that people might want to get at the time of the anniversary.”
Emery says in addition to acquiring photos and memorabilia, the aging building is in need of repairs.
“We’ve been able to do some renovations at the church in recent years with a grant that was given to us by the Presbyterian Church, but there’s more that needs to be done. So we have created a “Centennial Building Fund” to raise money to do some needed repairs and upgrades.”
Emery says the church is reaching out throughout Alaska and beyond, to find people with connections to the church.
“Many people who grew up here in Metlakatla have moved on to Ketchikan and elsewhere, and so we’d love for them, if they have anything, to be in contact with us about how they might be able to contribute and be part of our celebration.”
Emery says things are in the planning stages, but various events will take place. For the next few years, however, he’s hoping many people will contact him to share memories, photos and more.
Church phone: 907-886-7581
Reverend Larry Emery’s cell phone – 916-895-8819
Church email: firstname.lastname@example.org