Northwest passage

MCC approves merger of Alaska, North Puget Sound presbyteries

January 14, 2014


The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Mid-Council Commission (MCC) has approved the realigned boundaries of the Presbytery of North Puget Sound, effectively merging North Puget Sound and Alaska presbyteries. The commission vote at its Jan. 13–15 meeting here was unanimous. 

According to the Rev. David Dobler, executive for Alaska Presbytery and the Rev. Corey Schlosser-Hall, North Puget Sound’s executive, the first meeting of the new presbytery will be March 15. 

Among the first tasks will be to choose a name. Proposed monikers for the presbytery, which includes coastal Washington State from Seattle north to the U.S.-Canada border and the six southeast Alaska panhandle congregations, include “Presbytery of Northwest Coast” or “Presbytery of the Inside Passage”—referring to the trade and travel route from the Pacific Northwest to Alaska. 

“This (commission) action completes the action begun at our meeting at Northern Light (Presbyterian Church in Juneau) last fall, followed by the positive vote of North Puget Sound in November and the Synod of Alaska-Northwest in December,” Dobler wrote to Alaska Presbyterians following the vote. “Whew!”

Schlosser-Hall will serve as ongoing executive of the new presbytery. Dobler will continue to serve the Alaska churches on a part-time basis until his planned retirement next fall. An executive board is laying the administrative groundwork for the new presbytery. Dobler said Alaska Presbytery’s general council will continue to meet in 2014 until details of the merger are completed. 

The new presbytery will be based in Everett, Wash., the base of North Puget Sound Presbytery. Alaska Presbytery’s office in Juneau will eventually close.  

“Helping our new presbytery to meet and know its new members is a top priority,” Dobler said. “Of course we want folks to understand our Alaska churches and Native cultures, and we Alaskans have many new friends to meet in the southern end of the new presbytery, one-third of whom are Korean,” he said. “This is a rich and wonderful gathering of Presbyterian Christians, and we plan to celebrate that at our meeting on March 15.”

Creation of the new presbytery became necessary last spring when six of the 15 congregations in Alaska Presbytery disaffiliated from the PC(USA), leaving the presbytery one church short of the constitutional minimum to constitute a presbytery.

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