Church plans anniversary celebration

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2002

Two founding members of St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church in Kenai will return Sunday for a special celebration marking the 25th anniversary of the church.

Billy Wise, widow of John Wise, the first warden of the church, will travel from Anchorage and Elizabeth Aprill, widow of the Rev. Joe Aprill, the first priest of the Kenai church, will come from Homer for the occasion. St. Francis by the Sea is on the corner of Kenai Spur Highway and Spruce Street.

Anniversary activities begin with a holy Eucharist service at 10 a.m. conducted by Norman Elliott, the arch-deacon of the Episcopal Southcentral Deanery. He will be assisted by Canon Elmore Lester, a retired priest who resides part-time near St. Francis church. Music will be provided by the women's trio.

After the service, church members are invited for a time of fellowship, with refreshments, according to Deacon Marian Nickelson, who presides over liturgical activities for St. Francis.

"This will be a time when people can visit with other members of the church and visit the museum we've set up," Nickelson said.

In a room just off the large chapel area, members have gathered news articles, photos and other memorabilia from the church's 25-year history on the peninsula.

Not to be missed are the many stories of the Rev. Noel D. Rich, who was pastor of St. Francis from December 1980 to May 1983.

One recalls a time when a person or persons unknown moved the large "New Home of St. Francis by the Sea" sign and leaned it up against the Rainbow Bar.

Another anecdote recalls an "eerie red glow" appearing in a small fire set for an Easter Vigil service.

The small, 10-member church led by Lesley Weatherman, senior warden, and Ray Nickelson, treasurer, welcomes all who wish to come help celebrate the anniversary.

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