One of Juneau’s oldest churches has a new priest.
The Rev. Gordon Blue began his duties at downtown’s Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in late September.
The church was founded in 1895. Its congregation moved into a new building four years ago after its 110-year-old structure was destroyed by an arson fire.
Blue said he was inspired to apply for the job in part because the church “literally raised itself from the ashes.”
“It has had great leadership during the rebuilding, and wonderful care during the interim period. Here is a congregation filled with high-achieving, amazingly motivated, extremely talented, dedicated people,” he said.
The church is at the corner of Fourth and Gold Streets in downtown Juneau. It houses McPhetres Hall, home of Theatre in the Rough, and The Mustard Seed resale shop. Regular services are held at 8:30 and 11 a.m. Sundays and noon Wednesdays.
Blue has a master’s degree in divinity from the University of Vancouver, British Columbia. He served six years as assistant priest at St. Peter’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Sitka. More recently, he was interim priest for St. James the Fishermen Episcopal Church in Kodiak.
Before coming to the ministry, he was a marine engineer, commercial fisherman, boat-owner and Native corporation consultant.
“A friend invited me to church when I moved to Sitka, 18 years ago,” he said.
“I’d been fishing in the Bering Sea for 17 years: loving the Aleutian wilderness, doing deals, fighting to protect the fishery resources. I hadn’t been doing much church. I’d never been to an Episcopal Church service,” Blue said.
He tried it out and found what he’d been looking for.
“It is a combination of elements that provides a kind of integrity that I felt was possible, but hadn’t seen operating in daily life. I’d experienced this in pieces, some one place, some another — but here was the place that brought it together for me.”
Holy Trinity’s new rector has a long history of community service. He’s served on boards, as well as worked for or run 21 different organizations and businesses. They include the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, the Alaska Longline Fisheries Association and Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services.
Blue says some of his fisheries friends imagined his career change was part of a bargain.
“That in some remarkably fierce winter storm a desperate situation arose, and that I have been keeping a promise made then, a promise to God,” he said.
“It isn’t like that. That would imply that some part is God’s, and another part is mine. It’s all God’s.”
He said he looks forward to working with church members to expand Holy Trinity Episcopal Church’s congregation.
“There are lots of people in Juneau who are looking for this church, and they don’t know it yet. They will know us by our love,” he said.