A History of our Congregation
All stories need a beginning, and this one begins in 1972 when a handful of Lutheran families wanted to establish a Lutheran congregation on the mountain. Pastor D.C. Schroeder from the Missouri Synod office in Portland came up to guide them in becoming a mission church in the community. For the first six months they gathered, in rented space, around the massive stone fireplace to hear speakers, most of whom were from Concordia College.
Relocation became an issue when there were problems heating the building. The new congregation worshiped at the Bowman's Resort for a short time until the overhead sprinklers malfunctioned, and the donated hymnals and Bibles were ruined. And so, in January of 1973, a thirty-two year relationship with St. John's Catholic Church was begun when Hoodland Lutheran Church became the third congregation to worship in that building along with the Catholics and the Episcopalians. For the next three years the congregation grew under the guidance of several interim pastors; John Scheck, Harold Iben, John Fenning and D.C. Schroeder.
1977, the congregation had grown large enough to hire a part-time pastor, with Pastor Paul A. Gross accepting the position. A joint Vacation Bible School was held in 1978 with the Mount Hood Bible Church at Camp Arrah Wanna. In 1979, missions outside of the local area became a focus for the congregation, who sponsored a Cambodian refugee family that year. Wally and Kathy McKenzie also answered a call to serve in Madagascar for six to nine months, beginning a relationship that continues this day.
The first Confirmation class was held in 1985 and by 1986 a church office was rented above the dental clinic in Welches. The possibility of having our own church was beginning to be discussed. In 1989 Pastor Paul began what was to become a continuing tradition with Hoodland Lutheran's Pastor also serving as the Chaplain for the Hoodland Fire Department.
1990: Pastor Paul heard the call to another congregation, and Pastor Heidi Fish came to the mountain. The first Spaghetti Dinner and Craft Sale was held as a fundraiser for the Neighborhood Missions Program, whose charter was later drawn up in 1994. Pastor Heidi left to minister in the Seattle area that year, and in October of 1995 Pastor Berry Scruggs was called to serve this congregation. In 2004, as noted in more detail in the history of the worship center below, Hoodland Lutheran Church moved into a home of it's own, fulfilling a dream that began in a living room in 1972.
2012: Pastor Berry left Hoodland Lutheran Church and Pastor Susan Granata was called as our interim until 2014. Pastor Don Voeks was installed in a four-year limited Call in February of 2014 and retired in February of 2018.
With Pastor Don’s retirement, the Hoodland congregation set aside twelve months of prayer, discernment and education. A time of learning to listen and really hear each other as we work toward a realization of God’s message for our future on the mountain. With the return of pulpit supply minister, Pastor Susan Granata in the last part of 2018, the congregation continues to enjoy a consistent gospel-based message. The congregation also has the opportunity to hear messages from two retired pastors; Rev. Steve Carlson, Rev. Nick Doversberger and Episcopal Deaconess Katherine Holland.
The service music is lively and chosen with thought and care so as to be in sync with the message of the day. The worship team works hard to assist the ministers in creating an atmosphere of love, acceptance, and faithfulness.
The Worship Center
In the 1940’s a small group of faithful believers, led by Pastor Thyra Strand, began a congregation called “The Chapel of the Hills.” As this new church grew and bloomed, they constructed a log church on two acres beside the Mount Hood Highway.
For the better part of three decades they worshipped in that sanctuary, until it burned in a legendary fire in the Hoodland area in 1975. But these were sturdy people of God, and they immediately began plans to rebuild. Their new sanctuary was constructed in the late 1970’s, and an education wing was added during the next decade.
Then, in the mid 1990’s, the Chapel of the Hills congregation merged into The Church on the Mountain fellowship. The house of God that they had worked so hard to rebuild became the site of Youth Group meetings and various other church functions. Over the next few years it gradually fell into a state of disrepair. And by the time negotiations had begun with the Hoodland Lutheran Church for our purchase of this historical and sacred place, the sanctuary and the rest of the building needed a lot of love.
Even before the sale had closed, several dozen volunteers vacuumed, cleaned and dusted like never before to spruce up this special place. Soon after closing, under the direction of Clay Nelson, work began on a new roof and new carpet. The clean smell of fresh paint was everywhere as every wall was spackled and then painted. Light fixtures were repaired and bulbs replaced, and before long our first service here was held in July of 2004.
We sat in pews donated by the Trinity Lutheran Church in Brookings. The pulpit and baptismal font plus all the altar ware came from Advent Lutheran in Troutdale. We gathered and praised God for this gift of a church of our own.
The work continued as the grounds were cleared and firewood donated to local families. The kitchen was replaced from the ground up and new appliances were donated to the church. A beautiful altar was constructed for us by Duane Brown, and Jerry Tholen carved a magnificent Crucifix for the sanctuary. Under the leadership of Clarence Edelman, energy efficient lighting in the sanctuary and windows has been installed. The parking lot has been paved, a new airlock for the front of the church, and much work on the landscaping have been completed.
We are now looking for a location for our Neighborhood Missions food pantry, and are prayerfully considering what to do next, continuing to restore this house of God, and serve Him in our community, church and world.