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Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I’m enjoying a much-needed vacation. It would be nice however if the world could take a much needed-vacation as well. As I write this the pandemic, political strife, fires on the west coast and hurricanes in the south are all intersecting. The “living hope” we have in and through Christ’s resurrection however will see us through.

The last several months have been especially challenging for the church. In March we had to figure out in a hurry how to bring worship services to you in your home since you couldn’t come to church. We fasted from the Lord’s supper for two months. In June we began having a small amount of people return to church and receive the Lord’s Supper again while employing Covid prevention measures. Along with that Kathy Prehm, the staff, and the Board of Education have spent a good part of their summer navigating the state’s constantly-changing requirements to be able to have a preschool starting this Fall. It’s been quite a stretch!

But there is much to be thankful for. Our church was one of the few in the area to hold an in-person Vacation Bible School. It was a success and the children and their parents were very thankful for it. One child who attended said she didn’t want it to end because she liked being with actual people instead of people on a computer screen. VBS was only one week though. Since March our church has been broadcasting the Word of God to people whom we’ve never met before and in some cases, people who have not come to church in a long time. Some of you have contributed to the effort to continue the mission of the church and are continuing to do so—thank you very much! Let’s continue making the best of the opportunities God is giving us through this time in which He is teaching us to rely and trust in Him even more.

God’s peace,

Pastor Don 

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There’s still room for you at the church!


Back in March when we entered the stay-at-home order, it was hard to imagine what church would be like in three months. But here we are and I’m glad to see some of you returning to the sanctuary for Sunday worship. For the first three Sundays in June, at both the 8:30 and 10:45 AM services, there were just under 25 people attending, which is within Phase I guidelines for our county. While it would be nice to see more people come back to in-person worship, the amount we have had has been manageable in that we haven’t had to turn anyone away. That being said, there are still a few open seats in the sanctuary at each service, plus we can seat an additional 25 people in the lower level (basement) with sound and video. You can also listen to the service in your car in the parking lot (87.9 FM radio.) For those of you participating in worship at home, you can come to the church and receive communion on the first and third Sundays of the month. I will remain in the sanctuary until 1 pm to commune one family at a time. So far we’ve had a few takers on this and it’s been good to commune with you after such a long fast from the Lord’s Supper.

So what’s in the future? Well, the earliest things could change would be Sunday, July 12th if governor Brown approves our region for Phase II. If that happens, we will still have the 8:30 AM service with a few more designated seating spaces in the sanctuary. We will still have to practice six feet of physical distancing and wear face masks. But we will also begin our 10:45 outdoor service in the grove. Under Phase II, we will be able to have more than 25 people attend with proper distancing, plus, you can stay in your car and still see and hear the service. There are technology roadblocks to livestreaming the outdoor grove service; so what we’ll probably do is livestream the 8:30 AM service just during the summer, so that we can continue offering worship for those who wish to stay home, or cannot come to church.

This summer is certainly going to be a much less active than what we’re used to. A district youth gathering in Idaho was canceled, Confirmation Camp at Lutherwood was canceled, Robin Hood is canceled, a wedding has been postponed, and Mission Festival is up in the air since we won’t be able to have potlucks even in Phase II.

Some things are continuing however on a limited basis including Vacation Bible School and confirmation for our three confirmands; Ben, David, and J.P. I’m hoping to host a picnic for the other LCMS pastors in our circuit later in August. Some things I sure miss are our time together in Bible study, men’s group on Saturday mornings, and new member classes.

The elders and I wholeheartedly appreciate your patience and flexibility during all this. Trying to figure out how to continue worship services amid ever-changing Covid prevention guidelines has not been easy. I also want to thank Frannie, Chuck, and the Praise Team for their continuing dedication to serve you during worship. And, we must all be grateful for Tim, our president for conducting the business of our church, as well as our financial officer Karen Baldwin; Jill for all the communication to you, Charlie, who’s been key in keeping some of our technology going for the online worship; Jennifer and Ellen, in the office; Kathy for a successful close of the school year and preparation for next year’s class; the volunteers on the Board of Education; and Jen Gatke for carrying on with VBS.

Above all we must thank the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ, for promising never to abandon us, and seeing us through to the end. To Him be all the glory, honor, praise and thanksgiving!


Pastor Don  









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Dear friends,


Washington County’s goal to enter Phase 1 reopening was targeted for Monday, June 1st. Hopefully it’s been approved by the time you read this. If so, what does it make possible for us in regards to worshipping back in the sanctuary? I’ve listed some things below which might help us get an idea of what it will look and feel like to be “back in church.” 

  • Limited-open services at 8:30 and 10:45 AM on June 7th, Trinity Sunday
  • Both services limited to 25 people in the sanctuary
  • Designated seating in pews
  • Wear a mask
  • Minimize touching things (paper service folders, door person, elevator operator)
  • Communion will resume with distancing and touching measures in place

The elders and I want to keep things as simple and easy to understand as possible. That’s a big challenge though in this ever-changing pandemic environment. Here are additional things to keep in mind as we anticipate coming back to church while considering the risks:

  • People at higher risk of infection should continue participating in worship at home until we are in either Phase 2 or 3 of Washington County’s reopening plan
  • The 10:45 AM service will continue being available online for the foreseeable future
  • Once the sanctuary is full (25 max,) the church lower level can be made available but it’s capacity will also be limited to 25 people. Audio is currently available there, and we will work on video.
  • Audio is available on FM radio, so you can participate in your car in the parking lot
  • The 10:45 services in the grove will commence as usual (first Sunday after Fourth of July through Labor Day weekend)
  • Christian education will resume when we’re in Phase 2

A lot is currently being written about singing in church—there are competing viewpoints as to whether or not it’s safe to sing. If we were to sing in church, we would be distanced by at least six feet and wearing masks. Nevertheless, I’m hearing that it’s prudent to sing low of softly, or even not at all—let a soloist or the pastor do the singing. At the very least we will wear a mask to minimize exposure.

I know I haven’t covered every detail about reopening in this article or addressed every question—there are too many for the amount of space here. Just keep watching the services online and checking your email. I’ll keep you as updated as I can. Or you can email, text, or call me. May we be blessed by the Holy Spirit this Trinity and Pentecost season, and continue being a blessing to each other and our community.

Pastor Don


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Hello to all of you out there; I hope you are doing well under the circumstances. I’d like to share with you a family devotion from a 1918 edition of Lutheran Witness:


During the present epidemic [Spanish flu] the Boards of Health of many cities have requested that congregations close schools, churches, and Sunday schools until the danger has passed. Not only our pastors, but also the ministers of other churches advised their people through the public press, or otherwise, that during the closing of the churches they should read the Scriptures at home and have family prayers.


In those houses in which this had been a custom before it was easily arranged. To others it was a novel experience. It is to be hoped that some who tasted the spiritual delight of family devotion will continue the practice in the future. Let no one imagine that the churches or the pastors fear that people will take to prayer in the family and neglect public services.


The family that enjoys the reading of the Scriptures and family prayers during the week is the one which is most ready to visit the house of God whenever the doors are thrown open. The more members of a congregation practice home or family devotions, the better will be the church attendance in that congregation. That father and head of the house who gathers his household together each day because it is his intention and determination: “I and my house will serve the Lord,”—that father will be the same mind on the day when the churches are open and the pastor proclaims God’s Word.


Are you looking for some good work to do? Would you do something to glorify God, something whereby you may show your gratitude towards the Savior, something whereby you may be yourself, and where by you may bless your neighbor, something whereby you may be a blessing to your whole community? Institute family devotion daily in your home. Go about in a cheerful, friendly, evangelical manner. If that is daily done, you have accomplished something that will bless you and yours in time and eternity. (vol. 37, p. 359)


For this next part I’d like to offer answers to some possible questions I imagine some of you might have:


            Q – When are we going to be able to come back to church on Sundays?

A – I don’t know yet. Unlike some states which have target dates for easing stay-at-home orders, Oregon does not. We are waiting for governor Brown to announce a lessening of current restrictions. Once she does, the elders and I will work together on what kind of services we can have either in the sanctuary or the grove.


            Q – Some churches are having internet communion. Why aren’t we?

A – I’m aware of two LCMS churches who have had online communion, but the majority of our congregations are following the recommendations from the synod to abstain from any online version of the Lord’s Supper. Non-sacramental protestant churches, i.e. those who do not believe in the real presence of the Lord Jesus in the supper, have no problem with internet communion. But the fact of the matter is, the churches in our synod who have done it already have caused offense for some of our brothers and sisters in the LCMS. I don’t wish to cause anyone in our church to stumble on this issue, so for now we are abstaining from communion. My second reason for abstaining is purely pragmatic: I don’t know how to do internet communion. I have not been trained in it or have any guidance on how to do it. If I were to try doing online communion I would be making it up as I go and I don’t want to do something foolish or in an amateurish way. Going for so long without communion has been hard on me too, and I look forward to the day when we can have it together even more each day.


            Q – Is anyone in our congregation sick from Covid-19 or been diagnosed with it?

            A – Not that I have heard.


Q – How are our church finances? I hear giving is way down for churches and charities. Are we doing okay?

A – As far as I can tell, we are still able to pay the bills. People are tithing using Simply Giving or mailing in their contributions. Some people are using the electronic giving portal on the church website. The lights still come on in the church and office, and we have running water. God provides for his people.


            Q – When church services resume in the sanctuary, will we still have two services?

A – Well, I guess that depends on how many people return to worship. If there are eight of you at the 8:30 service, and 70 at the 10:45, or visa-versa, then the elders and I will have to make some decisions. On the other hand, if there is some sort of Christian revival in the wake of this pandemic and we find our two services overflowing with people, we may need to add more services – who knows what the future holds. In preparation for this however, the elders and I may consider surveying the congregation first to gather information on how we might best use the resources God has given us to conduct worship services.


If there are any other questions you may have about the church or the synod, or anything else, please contact me. Until then, I encourage you to do family devotions at home and participate in the services online. Trust in the Lord ever more, He will see you through this difficult time. May His peace be with you.


Pastor Don





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As I write this article there’s an eerie silence in the office. I’m the only one working here; Jennifer is working from home mostly, taking your calls and continuing various day-to-day operations of the church. Pastor Kiessling is calling those on the phone whom he regularly visits. The preschool is on an extended Spring break; a few cars drive through the campus but there are no visitors. No one from the neighborhood is even bringing their kids to play in our playground, most likely as a precaution so their kids don’t touch anything someone else may have touched earlier. It’s quiet, strange, and lonely.


I’m fortunate to be able to leave the house and work at my regular place; I know not everyone can do that right now. I feel like I’m in a sort of isolated “base of operations”—I make phone calls checking in on people, send emails, texts, record the midweek Lenten services, and prepare the Sunday worship. I think this is going to become a new kind of normal for a while.


By the time you read this we will be about a week away from Easter Sunday, and unless God performs a miracle and wipes out the coronavirus from our land by then, we will be celebrating the Resurrection in our homes. As far as our summer activities go such as VBS and mission festival, those are just too far out right now to be able to make decisions on whether to have them or not. My thoughts are starting to turn to more philosophical questions such as, when we finally come out of this, how different will the church be? Will some people fall away and never come back? Will some draw nearer to God and worship more frequently? Will we simply pick up where we left off earlier this year as if nothing happened? I don’t know, these are the kind of things one thinks about while sitting alone in a quiet place.


We give thanks to God all the time at St. Paul for the many blessings He’s poured onto this church for 142 years. One of His blessings was seeing our church through the 1918 influenza pandemic. Our history book says Pastor Kolb was called to Petaluma California in the fall of 1918. This would have been near the height of the pandemic. It’s interesting that during such a dangerous time, he and his family packed up their things and moved. It’s also noted that the school did not resume in the fall of 1918, but this was because teacher Barrein had resigned in the spring. The church was without a pastor and a teacher until Frederick Westerkamp accepted the call in the spring of 1919. The pandemic was beginning to wind down by then, and by that summer it had finally run its terrible course.


Our history book makes no mention at all of the 1918 influenza pandemic, and the church’s death record notes only three deaths between the spring of 1918 and the fall of 1919, and those three were due to “apoplexy,” a type of stroke. This causes me to wonder if perhaps the pandemic wasn’t so bad in this area. Everything I read about the Spanish Flu however, says it took quite a toll on public services, the nation’s economy, and to some extent the population.


We should have every reason to believe our God will graciously and mercifully see us through this pandemic, as He has through those in the past. Barring any calls to Petaluma California or anywhere else for that matter, I imagine I will still be your pastor when Covid-19 has finally run its course, and we can resume our preschool, worship together in the sanctuary, and whatever else we wish to do for the kingdom of God. Until then participate in worship online, give generously back to God a portion of what He has given you, stay in touch, call me any time, and may God bless you and keep you healthy.


Pastor Don  


We will be offering online church worship during the Covid19 Virus outbreak. You can listen to our sermons online, watch live on Sundays at 10:45am on Facebook, or at your convenience from Facebook or links sent in congregational emails.

Check out our new website at for online worship and other useful resources.


God bless and be well.




Lenten Wednesday Service 

Pastor Don will be recording a message for you to watch for Lenten Service. It will be made available on Facebook, by email and hopefully on We plan to have it ready at 1:30 pm so you can watch it with your family either during the day or in the evening. 

Sunday Worship

We will not be having 8:30 am services or Sunday school. At 10:45 we will have a video worship service on Facebook, and hopefully available on our website after service is over. Please do not come to church unless Pastor Don has requested you be there (i.e. Praise Team & Franny). We will have music from both services included. 

Church Activities

All Church activities to include First Friday dinners, youth activities and funerals are suspended until further notice.

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From March 14, 2020

Sunday Worship will be live-streamed

on Facebook at 10:45 am

We are new to this but want to give those who cannot come to church this option because we want you to be safe about your health. We will be streaming the entire service on our Facebook Page – we’re not professionals at this so please bear with us during any struggles. 

There will be a special video presentation from President Matthew Harrison during the sermon. 

Thank you, 
Pastor Richard

From March 6, 2020



As a Pastor, you’re not likely to hear me say stay home from church, but if you’re experiencing symptoms of the Coronavirus, please refrain from coming to church.

I know many of you are concerned about the Coronavirus, and I wanted to let you know what we’re planning for this Sunday. 

1. Saying Hello! We will not be shaking hands and you should limit close contact at church. 
2. Keep it Clean – Our church is cleaned every Saturday, but this Sunday in between services the Sunday School youth will put on their rubber gloves and wipe down surfaces between services in the sanctuary. 
3. Sanitizing – We are hoping to get hand sanitizer from a local health insurance agent who gives them out at events and has some on hand. 


If you stay home:

We will be be posting the sermon to our Facebook page.

We will also have the sermon up on the website next week. It’s also a great time for you to check out our new website!

You can also call the office to sign up for simply giving to make tithing easier during any absences. 

We will be praying for everyone’s health as well. 
Blessing and good health, 
Pastor Don