In 1964, remarkable relationships between United Methodist clergy and
Protestant organizations in Sitka formed the basis for the beginnings
of the United Methodist Church of Sitka. Seven interested people met
in January 1964 in the St. Peter's Episcopal "Sitka-by-the-Sea" Parish
House and organized the initial survey of the Sitka Community. Four
Methodist ministers and three lay people conducted the survey.
survey was followed by visitations to all who expressed an interest in
starting a United Methodist Church by the Rev. Ernie Jones of Douglas,
Alaska and Rev. Charles Horner of Anchorage, Alaska. Following the
home visitations, Rev. Ernie Jones conducted the first church service
March 14, 1965 in the home of Ralph and Phoebe Welton with seven people
The Masonic Temple offered their facility two weeks
later on March 28, 1965 for Rev. Richard Heacock to conduct a United
Methodist Church service. Easter Sunday, April 18, 1965, twenty-nine
charter members were received into membership of the United Methodist
Church of Sitka by Dr. Meredith Groves, Superintendent of the Alaska
Mission. During May and June 1965, Rev. Fred McGinnis, President of
Alaska Methodist University; Rev. Walter Hays, Jr. of Anchorage; Rev.
David Fison of Ketchikan and Rev. Ernie Jones of Douglas conducted
biweekly church services for the new congregation.
pastor assigned to the United Methodist Church of Sitka was Rev. John
Tindell and his wife, Bee, who arrived July 2, 1965. Rev. Tindell and
the congregation initiated the first building fund in March, 1966 with
the ground breaking ceremony and the beginning of construction at 303
Kimsham in September 1966. The congregation moved from the Masonic
Temple in November 1967 and celebrated a Family Thanksgiving Dinner in
the new facility. Dr. Meredith Groves and Bishop Glenn Phillips held
the consecration service in the spring of 1968.
building served Sitka as church, sunday school, day care center and
social hall for over 20 years. Excavation began on the new sanctuary
in 1987 under the direction of Harold Campbell with Rev. Thorn Fassett,
Conference Missionary Superintendent, leading the consecration in the
spring of 1988. Three United Methodist volunteer work groups and local
church members reconfigured the roof and added a new narthex during the
summer of 1997.