For a number of months, a pastor, the Reverend Edward Doering, in Illinois, has been anxiously waiting the opportunity to go to Oregon and to gather the scattered Lutherans in that state into congregations. But there never has been any financial possibility. Now, however, we are happy to report that a number of congregations in and near Chicago have raised enough money at a mission festival. In a few weeks, praise God, the missionary will depart for Oregon, to preach the Gospel of his Savior to his fellow Lutherans there. (from “God Opens Doors” page 15)
Thanks to God and those good folks in Chicago, Doering was called as pastor to Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Sherwood a couple years after he arrived in Oregon. The Oregonian even took notice when it ran the story:
Wednesday evening, Rev. Edward Doering, a missionary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church for Oregon, arrived with his family from the East by steamer. He comes with instructions to locate in east Portland, but his work will embrace the entire state. As soon as a suitable building can be obtained, he will engage in the organization of a local church.
Doering wasted no time; he held his first service the following Sunday, September 4th, 1871 at Neppach’s Hall in east Portland. Five people showed up. Needless to say Doering was not encouraged. He began seeking other German Lutherans throughout the land hoping to form them into congregations. One of the first places he went to was Aurora, the largest German settlement near Portland at that time. But the Germans there were not Lutheran and didn’t care for Doering’s message and teachings. He found Germans in Damascus, but couldn’t get them to start a church either. He eventually wound up in Blooming (Cornelius) and found Lutherans there who hadn’t been to church in a long time and were open to Doering leading a worship service with them. Things took off from there and the church in Blooming was the first of Doering’s many churches he planted in Oregon.
Our church, St. Paul, was already a congregation by then and was being served by pastor August Kentner. But Kentner moved on and Doering was called as pastor in 1873. He served this church for four years while also tending to Cornelius, doing mission work in Portland, Albany, Salem, and other areas. One wonders how this man could have done all this. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit and Doering’s determination to bring German Lutherans together, congregations sprang up at a fast rate but pastors for these new churches were in short supply.
A lot has changed since then, but not the short supply of pastors! Several of our sister congregations in the valley continue to be vacant after years in the call process while others have been served by pastors who come and go after only a couple years. This inconsistency can have an adverse effect on a church’s attendance and membership. You have been very fortunate to have a pastor at your church for a decade now along with an emeritus pastor to assist. You’d be surprised how many LCMS churches in Oregon don’t have that. Please pray for our churches and for pastors to be called here to serve their people in Word and Sacrament ministry consistently, and long term.
Even after a hundred and fifty years, in regards to church planting, pastoral calls, mission work etc., it’s still the frontier out here. One of the ways the churches helped each other back in the 1800s was to share a pastor between two or three churches. Trinity Lutheran Church in Mt Angel started this way with pastor Doering conducting a Wednesday service. But eventually Trinity desired to worship on Sundays, and was able to call a full-time pastor. My point is we may eventually be forced to do some things the way we started all those year ago. Churches unable to successfully call a full-time pastor may need to be served by a pastor from the next nearest LCMS church—dual parishes they’re called. Or congregations may need to join together to form one church. Whatever the case, the next ten years will be interesting and full of possibilities and opportunities for service and outreach, not only by church workers, but for everyone.
I could go on at length about this but I should stop. Just pray that the Lord will continue guiding us and our brothers and sisters in Oregon, the district, and synod. We are but one family in a much larger one. He will continue doing the good work He started in us and bring it to completion on the Last Day. Plan to attend our own mission festival the last Sunday in July. Our guest of honor will be pastor David Lafore from Trinity Mount Angel, and our special mission offering will go to Camp Lutherwood Oregon, to help rebuild their main lodge after the fire.