What a blessing to be part of an agency that has cared for young people for 125 continuous years without ceasing. Throughout the years and through all the changes that come with location moves, shifts in paradigms, differing needs for those we serve, a constant thread has remained. We were born in the church and our Spiritual Life program continues to live thanks to our church supports.
What a blessing to be a part of an agency that honors the spiritual lives of those we serve and finds a way to ensure that we have Spiritual Life programming that is a vital part of the treatment we provide. Most of our agency’s funding comes through government money. Because of separation of church and state, our
Spiritual Life Department is funded separately from the rest of our agency through church and individual donations. This, coupled with the fact that Spiritual Life is optional for our students allows us to offer a full-time spiritual component to those in our care.
What a blessing to be part of an agency that in 1970 was forward thinking in their ecumenical approach and merged the Jesse Lee Home (United Methodist), the Lutheran Youth Center (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, formerly the American Lutheran Church) and the Anchorage Christian Children’s Home (American Baptist) to form one agency to care for young people in need. Later in the 1980s the Disciples of Christ Church became our fourth supporting denomination. What a blessing to be witness to entities putting the care of young people first — before their need to uphold their own theological understandings.
What a blessing to look back on our history and see that many of the ministries that take place now are efforts that have come full circle and are echoes of our past. I was thrilled to discover that starting on day one of the Jesse Lee Home, students enjoyed story time and music groups. For 125 years, before the term trauma informed care was coined, our students have used hand crafts as forms of prayer and healing. And throughout the entire tenure of the agency, chapel services have been held to honor, bless and affirm people, places and events.
As I thought about writing this I wanted to name, acknowledge and thank all the people who have ministered in this place. But during the first few moments of research, it quickly became clear that there are far too many to name. What a blessing to see that there is one name that has remained front and center throughout it all. And that name is the name of God.
What a blessing it has been to look back on our agency’s history and see the continuity and faithfulness to the first seven words of our mission statement:”Based on the Spirit of Christ’s love...” Our steady and continued focus on the One who shows us the Way, the Truth and the Life will undoubtedly sustain us and allow us to bring hope to troubled young lives for what we foresee to be another 125 years. Thanks be to God for all the care, healing, and reconciliation that has happened and will happen in this place of new beginnings.