Missionaries

History 101.15

The below article was written by Dr. Eugene Murphey and was published in The Tower newsletter of May 2006. 

 

A previous church history segment in The Tower mentioned the name of Sheldon Jackson whose picture appears in the middle stained glass lancet window in the south wall of the chancel area.  He is an imposing figure in his gray fur parka hood, and he is shown with his hand resting in blessing on the shoulder of a native Alaskan Eskimo.

Most of us may never have heard of Sheldon Jackson, but we should now recognize him as one of the great Christian missionaries in our church history.  He was born in Miniville, New York in 1834, graduated from Union College and later from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1858, and then was ordained a Presbyterian minister.  Almost immediately he became a missionary, and his reputed energy and enthusiasm carried him into much of the mid-West and Rocky Mountain states, where he is estimated to have established over one hundred churches and missions and to have traveled over one million miles in his work.

Eventually, the Reverend Dr. Jackson carried his mission work into Alaska territory where he established many training centers and schools for native Alaskans.  His extensive travels in Alaska, and even into Russian Siberia, led him to become concerned about the preservation of native culture, art, and lifestyles.  This led to the establishment of the famous Alaska State and Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sirka, Alaska.

Jackson also involved himself in politics to further his goals of betterment for the Alaskan people.  United States President Benjamin Harrison became his friend and helped pass legislation that assisted in setting up legal authorities and commissioners for the territory as well as providing federal aid for education.  His devotion to the educational and spiritual growth of native Alaskans continued undiminished until his death in 1909.

-Eugene M. Murphey, M.D.