Sitka Lutheran Church

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The Sitka Lutheran Church held the first Protestant congregation in Alaska and is also the oldest Protestant Alaskan church, at 170 years old. While it is still an active church, it also is open to the public for tours with trained volunteers Monday thru Saturday.

The congregation was founded 1839-40 under the leadership of RAC Governor Arvid Adolf Etholèn, a Finnish Lutheran. Over the course of the years, the building went through quite a few changes: by 1888 it had fallen into disrepair and was torn down and finally rebuilt many years later. The new building was totally destroyed by fire in 1966 (along with Saint Michael’s Cathedral). It was rebuilt the following year. Then in 1993, it burned again, and required extensive remodeling.

Somehow a lot of the original artifacts from the church survived through all the turmoil. These include the 1844 Kessler pipe organ (which was manufactured in Estonia and shipped overseas), a chandelier, pulpit, and communion rail.

From 1997 to 1999 the church received and dedicated some new additions: stained glass windows made by Seattle artist Dick Weitz, an altar made from pew wood salvaged from the 1993 fire, and sanctuary crosses.

Another important historical part of the church is the cemetery. Buried within are Edvard Etholen, infant son of Governor Adolf Etholen and his wife, Margareta; Aglaida Bushman, Princess Maksoutoff, a Lutheran, first wife of the last Governor of Russian Alaska; and Governor Johan Hampus Furuhjelm’s sister, Constance.

Watch For...
Guided tours by trained volunteers and literature about the church.

SUMMER HOURS AND FEES
Open Mon. - Sat.
Free admission

Phone: (907) 747-3338
E-mail: sitkalutheran@att.net
Website: www.sitkalutheranchurch.org


Once again, on behalf of [our group], we'd like to thank you all for a great time. Our trip to [your lodge] was truly a success, and as usual the food and accommodations were wonderful. As it turns out, it wasn't until the trip home that we realized how successful we really were. We met parties in the airports in Seattle and in Sacramento returning from Sitka, and found out that they did not limit out in salmon including a threesome that didn't catch any. Much of the credit for our success should go to Captain Jeff for his dogged perseverance. And, despite the pesky sea lions, we were able to limit out even with a couple rookies on board. Please offer him special thanks for that and his solicitous concern for the old guy (me). Also thanks to Levi, the deckhand, especially on my behalf as I gave him a thorough refresher course in how to untangle a line and reel. We're already talking about our return trip and I gave your name and information to the party from [a different lodge] that got skunked on the salmon. Thanks again. -Ralph S. (June 2010)