Visitation to St. John’s, Ketchikan

Someone told me that the weather in Southeast Alaska can be predicted with incredible accuracy:  if you look out in the morning and it is overcast, it will rain or is raining; if it is sunny or partly cloudy, it will rain later in the day.

Despite this forecasting adage, Sunday morning, September 12, dawned with clear skies, light wind, and not a hint of rain.  These conditions would last for the entire three days I was in Ketchikan.  What a glorious stretch of weather.  But I hasten to remind people who would give the clergy credit for such climatic mercies, “we are in sales, not management.”

Arriving at the Ketchikan airport, I was met by Dawn Allen-Herron and to my joy there was plenty of time for breakfast at the Cape Fox Lodge–assurance of a delicious meal and a glorious view on such a lovely morning.

No sooner had Dawn and I walked through the doors of the Cape Fox and into the lobby and we were met by a delightful gentlemen who surmised aloud that owing to my purple raiment, “[I] must be the new bishop of Alaska.”

He and his wife were in Ketchikan off a cruise ship and had hoped to attend worship at St. John’s.  They had gone by the church earlier that morning and were excited to read the announcement of my visitation.

His next words to me were completely unexpected: “Would you mind, terribly, if I took a picture with you?”

I didn’t know how to respond, although “why” was on the tip of my tongue.  But he was sincere and how could I say anything but ‘yes, it would me my honor’ to such a delightful gentleman?  Beside that, he went on to explain that that his Senior Warden would think it just a hoot if he were to be able to produce a picture of himself “having breakfast with the Bishop of Alaska.”

True to his word, no sooner had Dawn and I received our meals when our new friend came over and asked Dawn if she wouldn’t mind lending him her place at the table to make the picture complete.  Dawn not only graciously gave-up her seat, but snapped the photo as well.

Does this count as an encounter with the Paparazzi?

Worship at St. John’s later that morning was also picture perfect.  The church was full, or nearly so, and both resident parishioners AND visitors from the cruise ships were treated to a very holy and spiritual experience.  Three young adults were Confirmed and received their Diocesan Crosses.  And I was particularly touched by the sung Psalm duet by one of the Confirmands and her father.

A sumptuous meal and delightful fellowship followed in the Undercroft.

During the Bishop Candidate “fly-about”  in March, we visited St. John’s, Ketchikan.  I remember that evening was storming and blowing so hard that sitting in the church and listening to the structure creak and moan with the wind, I was concerned we would soon be transported to Oz.

Certainly this visit, the Holy Spirit was blowing through the church with every bit as much force.  Only this time I was certain we had been transported to seat of Grace–to the presence of Christ.

My schedule had me next flying to Phoenix, AZ for the House of Bishops meeting which was to convene Wednesday of that same week.  Rather than flying back to Fairbanks only to travel again in less than 2 days, I remained in Ketchikan where I would depart for Seattle and on to Phoenix Wednesday morning.

This permitted me a delightful two days to explore Ketchikan, visit, and reflect a bit on all that I had been part of in the past two weeks.

I took one morning and climbed the trail up Deer Mountain and was treated to spectacular views and the most refreshing and delicious blueberries I’ve ever enjoyed.

Much to my delight, Dawn and Norman (my gracious hosts), took me for a ‘cruise’ on their boat.  Although they were not able to provide Orcas for my viewing pleasure, they did offer a lovely picnic we enjoyed on-board surrounded by the mauve and gold light of a Southeast Alaska sunset.

I look forward to my return to the Southeast!

Up next: House of Bishops, AZ; Domestic Mission Partners, MS; Minto; and the Lower Yukon.


About Bishop Mark Lattime

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime is the 8th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska.
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