Christian sails SE to promote 100th Grand Camp

Members of the Alaska Native Sisterhood sing and drum as the Christian ties up at the Intermediate Vessel Float downtown Monday afternoon.

The dark blue hull and white superstructure of the Christian arrived Monday afternoon with its passengers from the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood singing and playing drums until the lines were tight at the Taku Fisheries dock.

The group left on their voyage April 1 and have traveled from Wrangell to Petersburg, Kake, Angoon, Hoonah and finally arrived in Juneau on Monday.

“One of the many purposes of this voyage was to speak to members in each community and encourage them to attend the 100th Grand Camp Convention in Sitka this coming October 2012,” according to an ANS press release. “There are plans for a large celebration.”

The group also passed the word about the new ANB and ANS Constitution, adopted during the 99th Grand Camp Convention in Klawock.

This was the first voyage for the new captain of the Christian. The vessel was purchased by the Lutheran church and used to promote its ministry in areas not serviced by traditional churches.

“It has been one of our outreach ministries to places that we can’t always get to,” Pastor Sue Bahleda of Resurrection Lutheran Church said. “To be able to go into Southeast Alaska where we don’t have established congregations but where people are seeking some sort of spiritual connection. It is just growing into its mission connected to the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood.”

The Christian is currently home docked at Petersburg.

Captain and Pastor Stan Berntson and Nurse Advocate Sharon Geldaker are in the process of relinquishing command of the Christian to Dennis Jack and his wife Roberta Jack, the first Native Alaskan captain and first mate of the ship.

“And the youngest,” Roberta said.

Dennis brings a 100-ton license to his command. The two came on board April 1.

“We started attending church four years ago,” Dennis said. “Stan and Sharon they came into Angoon … they kind of mentioned that we should think about (taking command).”

Denis said the Christian is fine running ship.

“It was an interesting trip,” Dennis said.

Kathy Brown, Grand Camp executive officer and member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood in Klawock, part of the traveling group, spoke to those who came to welcome the vessel. She spoke first in Tlingit then addressed the crowd in English.

“My Tlingit isn’t the best,” Brown said, “but I said we should all do great things here in Juneau.”

The group plans to stay for events in Juneau until Wednesday when they return to Petersburg.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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