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.

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First Visitations: Did the Consecration Work?

The weekend following the Consecration was a busy time.

Lisa Lattime and our children: Allison (17), David(16) and Jack(9), returned to Geneseo, NY so that Allison could finish her Senior year of High School with the friends and school community she has known since 2nd grade.

My schedule had me traveling to Eagle River and the Church of the Holy Spirit to ‘Install’ their new rector, The Rev. Paul Smith, and to conduct my first Confirmations.

The celebration was delightful.  Although I must admit to a degree of anxiety about my new role, the joy and welcome of the people of Holy Spirit was such that I was soon very much at ease and, dare I say, really enjoying my part in the spiritual journey of that parish and the individuals being Confirmed.

The Rev. Dr. Greg Kimura offered a thoughtful sermon on the important ministry of evangelism and welcome all baptized Christians share.   Alaska ranks 50 out of 50 states in the number of self-identified Christians who are staying home on Sunday mornings.  We need to reach out and welcome these people back into the counter-cultural practice of a rule of life based in our worshiping communities.

A funny moment occurred just before the Venerable Norman Elliot read the Letter of Institution.  Fr. Elliot’s sharp mind and eye noticed a typographical error in the text of the letter.  The bishop’s title read: The Right Revered.  What a difference an ‘n’ makes.

Certain that the Bishop was not worthy of such a title, and worried that my mitre was already feeling a bit tight around the forehead, I whispered to the smiling Fr. Elliot: “Better not read that part.”

A corrected letter, signed by the Right Reverend Mark Lattime, has been sent to Paul Smith and the Church of the Holy Spirit.

I left later that day to catch a flight to Juneau en route to Ketchikan, where I was scheduled to celebrate Confirmations and Holy Communion with St. John’s the next morning.

The weather was docile and expected to remain clear all the way to Juneau.  The flight was not fully booked and the equipment was at the gate early.  With cheerful efficiency the Alaska Airlines ground crew had the flight fully boarded and ready to go almost 10 minutes before scheduled push-back.

Unfortunately the ‘black-box’ associated with the aircraft navigation system was not as willing or interested in getting on the way early.  We were informed by the Flight Deck that there was going to be a short delay while the problem was “figured-out.”  “About 30 minutes and we’ll be on our way.”

An hour later it was determined that a new “Black-Box” was needed.

While most of my personal flying experience is based on a compass course, wind-correction, an adjustment for magnetic variation, and a heading to fly, I’m never one to argue against having working navigation equipment on-board.  Some delays are worth the wait.

Evidently the new “Black-Box” did the job.  We landed in Juneau around 11:30.  Only two hours later than expected.

Unfortunately, that was about a half hour later than the hotel airport shuttle driver was scheduled to work.   But Alaska is Alaska, and generous people run as thick spawning salmon in the rivers.  I was offered a ride by a kind Alaska Airlines counter person who was just leaving work for the day.

The early flight to Ketchikan seemed even earlier than expected the next morning.


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New Bishop’s Reflection on the Consecration

The Consecration ceremony in Anchorage was an extraordinary event.  I am grateful to all who worked so hard planning and preparing and participating in the events of that weekend.  The variety of gifts offered in the worship service was a living example of the description St. Paul gives of the body of Christ–many gifts make the one body.  The Diocese of Alaska is blessed to have such genuine diversity.  We do well to honor God by offering our thanks for these gifts by expressing them in their fullness.

One moment, a deeply personal experience, abides in my memory of the Consecration.  When the Presiding Bishop asked the gathered people if it was “your will that we ordain Mark a bishop,” you responded with such unity and force of conviction–dare I say prayerful purpose, that the power of your response: “That is our will,” moved with tangible force through my body.  It was as if a wave, or gust of wind, hit me from behind and coursed through my body.  The force of that wave, that wind, strengthened the beat of my heart, like a drum being hit, and I knew it was the power of the Holy Spirit moving in the midst of us.

I felt that same power, that same force, as we celebrated Holy Communion together and shared the one bread and one cup: the body and blood of Christ.

It was a holy experience.   And I pray that it was empowering for all of us in the Diocese of Alaska as we start this new ministry God has given us to do together.

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