Our History

 

Martin Luther's Seal. The most enduring symbol of the Lutheran Reformation is the seal that Luther himself designed to represent his theology.

Luther explained that the red heart with a black cross at the center should remind us that the righteous live by faith in the Crucified One. The Jerusalem Cross in the center signifies the five wounds of Christ (His hands, His feet, and His side). The heart rests in a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. The rose is white not red, because white is the color of heavenly spirits and angels. The white rose stands in a field of blue, the color of heaven, to show that joy in the spirit and in faith in this life is only the beginning of future heavenly joy. Surrounding the sky-blue field is a gold ring, to show that happiness and joy in heaven has no end, but last forever, just as gold is the highest, most noble and precious metal.

The words "Verbum Dei Manet in Aeternum" ("The Word of God endures Forever") have been emblazoned on Lutheran banners, shields and standards since the time of John the Steadfast (1468-1532), the Elector of Saxony, who stood with the Reformers at the time of the Augsburg Confession. "Concordia A.D. 1580" confesses that our teaching is that of all true Evangelical Lutherans across the generations, the doctrine of the Book of Concord 1580.

 

The History of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church

1935-2010

Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church began in early 1935 and was officially organized on March 24, 1935. The first service was held in the basement of the Bethel Baptist Church, from there they were moved to the old American Legion Hall located at East Powell and Elliott and then were held at the "undenominational temple."

In early 1938 the present lots were purchased. In those days the area was heavily wooded and when it rained the area was nearly a swamp. Ground was broke in September of that year and the cornerstone was laid later that month. Originally Redeemer was associated with the Wisconsin Synod, but by 1941 had ceased operating under Wisconsin Synod and had joined the Missouri Synod, which we remain a member of to this day.

The church was constructed over the next ten years and was completed almost entirely by volunteer labor of the present members and friends of the congregation. Two years after the ground breaking the first services were held in the basement of the building on Good Friday, March 22, 1940. On January 5, 1947 the first service would be held in the church sanctuary. From 1938 to 1952 under the guidance of Rev. Schoen, Redeemer conducted a Christian Day school, formed the Redeemer Women's Guild and in 1947 hosted the Oregon Pastoral Conference, which was no small undertaking for a church of its size.

In 1952 Rev. Schoen received and accepted a call to Argonia, Kansas. A few short months after Rev. Schoen preached his last sermon at Redeemer and bid farewell to the congregation, the congregation welcomed Rev. Fredrick Behrmann. Prior to serving as Redeemer's pastor, Rev. Behrmann had served at Faith Lutheran Church, in Seaside, Oregon. In 1953 the congregation undertook to borrow $50,000.00 from the General Church Extension Fund to enable needed renovations, and to complete the church building. The loan was approved and the completed building was dedicated on November 29 1953. During this time, Redeemer's congregation grew and Redeemer, as well as other sister congregations in the area, released a number of its members to form a new congregation in Rockwood, called Ascension. In November 1959, Redeemer dedicated its new education-fellowship building. In 1954 a kindergarten was begun. It was the first in the Gresham area and was held in the church basement three mornings a week.

From 1960 to 1985 many changes would occur at Redeemer. Redeemer would purchase two additional lots for Sunday School expansion and parking. From 1961 to 1966, Redeemer would be led by Rev. Louis Rush. In 1966, Rev. Roland Kauth would be called to lead Redeemer for 5 years. In 1971, Rev. William Woolen was called to Redeemer and three years later Redeemer would again put out a call. The call would be answered by Rev. Stephen Skov who would serve Redeemer from 1974 to 1978. During these 25 years membership at Redeemer would continue to grow.

In the next 25 years, membership at Redeemer continued to grow. In 1978 Redeemer welcomed Rev. Paul Hilgendorf. In the spring of 1980, ground was broken for a new church. Despite the efforts of the Church and her members to sell the church they were unable to do so. Instead the church allowed the Gresham Fire Department to burn the structure as a training exercise. The stained glass windows, pews and other items were removed and preserved for use in the new church. Worship services and Sunday School continued to be held in the educational building and thus the congregation got to witness the progress on a regular basis. The construction of the church again was supported and dependant on the large amount of volunteer labor that was done by its members.

In May 1980, the present church was dedicated by Rev. Hilgendorf and in 1988 a new organ was also dedicated by Rev. Hilgendorf. In 1991, Rev. Hilgendorf retired and Redeemer welcomed Rev. Patrick Curley. Rev. Curley served Redeemer for 5 years. In 1996, Redeemer then welcomed our present pastor, Pastor Lange.

Pastor Lange has been a dedicated servant to the Word and our faithful Shepherd for more than 10 years. In these past few years we have been blessed with many generous gifts from our members. In 2004, we completed a total remodel of our Parish Hall and incorporated the stained glass windows from the old church. In 2006, a memorial gift granted the opportunity to redo the altar area creating a beautiful look and providing better acoustics within the church. In 2008, Redeemer was again blessed with a generous memorial gift that provided our church with the opportunity to update and make necessary repairs to the existing building. In 2009, a memorial gift was left to pay off the building loan.

In the past 10 years we had the opportunity to support the start up of the Lutheran Churches in Novosibirsk, Russia. We were also able to work with Missionary Carol Osmon and have supported missions in Africa and in Needles, CA. We also have taught English as a second language to Russian and Hispanic immigrants here at Redeemer. We also remain active participants in the LCMS vicarage program. Every August we sadly say farewell to our vicar that has served us for the past year and anxiously wait to greet the new vicar. In the year that our vicars are with us, we form strong bonds and have been blessed to keep in touch with them throughout the years.

Our vicars work closely with a local senior living community, Fairlawn. We feel honored to be associated with Fairlawn for almost 10 years. In addition to conducting Sunday worship every week, we also provide communion for the residents every third Sunday of the month. Our Pastor, Vicar or other members of our congregation also conduct weekly bible study.

Redeemer has also been blessed with dedicated members, which is evident by the many volunteer supported building projects. A quick review of a list of officers from 25 years ago, show many still in active roles within the church. Our men's prayer breakfast takes place once a month and has been since the early 80s. Our members also work making Braille Bibles and quilts for World Relief. In addition we have a great group of younger members as well.

We could not be more proud of our youth group and younger members. Our youth not only serve the church by being acolytes, bell ringers, crucifers, and ushers, they also take time to serve our community visiting with our members and other residents at Fairlawn senior village, raising food, clothing, and money for Snowcap, and holding other various fundraisers throughout the year including various dinners, bake sales, and our annual rummage sale held in June. In addition to being active members of our church, our youth take instruction in the faith. Here at Redeemer, we are proud that are youth complete four years of instruction leading up to confirmation. Confirmation classes are held every Wednesday evening. The parents of our children also attend confirmation class.

We are also excited that for the past 6 years our youth have attended Higher Things. In 2009, Higher Things obtained RSO status. Higher Things is a grass roots group founded by pastors and laity of the LCMS. The Higher Things conference offers our youth a wonderful opportunity to spend a week with other Lutheran youth while attending various classes that emphasis our Lutheran beliefs.

We welcome and thank all who have come together to help us celebrate these past 75 years. A special thanks to our church historians and members past and present but a special thanks to Lyla Schweitzer, Eunice Wagner, Charlotte Chartier, Marylu Schweitzer, Janice Moody and Edith Flesher.

 

 

Our First Church

 

 

Our New Church