This past flag day we were honored to have the Rev David Fison read the Benny Benson story. Rev Fison was the first chaplain to begin a new era of ministry at our agency. That evening at Flag Day, a photo was taken of Rev Fison, his wife Aleen and our current Director of Spiritual Life Kelli Williams. Our CAO Rob Morris, who took the photo, suggested that a blog be written to tell about the beginnings of our current our Spiritual Life program.
About 1985, Walt Hays was part of the Jesse Lee Staff. He asked me to do a trial chaplain ministry for Jesse Lee. I was a part time campus minister for Alaska Pacific University, University of Alaska and the Community College. I had the time and agreed to take the ministry on a part-time trial basis.
A worship service should begin, so staff and residents were invited to attend worship service each Sunday in the cafeteria area. I led the singing and played my musical saw accompanied by the piano. We used the black Methodist Hymnals for its modern hymns. The residents helped with parts of the service that they usually had rehearsed beforehand. My messages were always short. After the services we had refreshments and fellowship.
One afternoon each week we had “project time.” These were “hands-on” projects. Things that they made to take home with them. These would usually take several sessions to complete.
Here are two examples: I roughed out small bears from soapstone with my band saw. I gave one to each of them, plus files and sandpaper. A sample finished bear was provided. We talked about creation.
For another project, I sawed out Christian Symbols from plywood and provided colorful scrap tiles to be cemented on for decoration. We talked about the meaning of the symbols.
We would also rehearse something we would be doing at next Sunday’s worship service. We always had time to talk about anything they wanted to talk about and prayed about their joys and concerns.
The evaluation of the chaplain program was positive and a new part time chaplain was engaged for the position.
David K Fison
July 2014 - Aleen Fison, Kelli Williams (current Director of Spiritual Life) and Rev David Fison