History

History

Oakridge Lutheran Church had its beginning in two congregations: the Icelandic Lutheran Church (later called the Church of Christ Vancouver) and the German language congregation called the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Cross. The following is a detailed history of our church beginning with the present and continuing back in time.

  • Pastor Dorothy Chu is serving the congregation as a full-time Pastor from November 10, 2014. Her Ordination and Installation at Oakridge Lutheran Church was on Sunday, November 9th of 2014.
  • Dorothy Chu served the congregation as a full-time Pastoral Care Minister from July 2011 to November 2014. She is  continuing as Music and Choir Director for the congregation.

  • Pastor Vida Jaugelis came to serve the congregation on a half-time position from September 2009 to June 2011. Pastor Jaugelis has accepted a full-time chaplaincy position with Fraser Health and moved on to a new direction in her ministry.
  • After serving the congregation for six years, Pastor Manz retired in July 2009. It was during his tenure, that the congregation began to explore the possibilities of re-developing the church property and the potential this held for a renewed ministry in the neighborhood.
  • Dorothy Chu served her internship with Oakridge Lutheran Church from April 2007 to March 2008 and April 2006 to February 2007 respectively.

  • Dorothy Chu  served as a part-time Parish Worker in March of 2007 to assist with the Chinese Outreach Ministry and to coordinate Sunday School, as well as continuing as Music and Choir Director for the congregation which she began in September of 2004.
  • Henry Guo served his internship with Oakridge Lutheran Church from August 2005 to July 2006 and returned to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Sask. for his last year of studies.

  • Oakridge Lutheran Church currently provides worship in English, Mandarin and German.

  • After four years of mission outreach to Mandarin speaking people, the congregation reduced it’s mission in the Mandarin language, at the end of 2004, for financial reasons.

  • Pastor Adolf Manz came to serve the congregation in September of 2003, after Pastor H. Paul Schmidt retired in June of the same year.

  • The parsonage was sold for $440,000 and the congregation decided to invest in a Mandarin speaking mission development. Pastor Esther Deng was called to be the mission developer for Oakridge Lutheran Church and build a Mandarin language program with regular Sunday services.

  • In 1998 the congregation called Rev. H. Paul Schmidt. For the first time, worship in German was cut back to one service per month, which resulted in many members leaving.

  • Pastor Günther Sandl, who came to us in 1992, was a young pastor from Germany. As both the English and German congregations grew older, many of the younger people were moving away from the church. For this reason, Pastor Sandl concentrated his effort on young people, going on many hikes and cross-country trips with them.

  • Pastor Ralfred Freytag who was initially called from Germany revitalized the congregation until his retirement in 1992. The fact he was an American working in Germany made him well suited to serve the bilingual congregation. On May 3rd, 1989 he succeeded bringing the English and German congregations together.

The Icelandic Evangelical Lutheran Church

  • Rev. Nolan Gingrich served the Church of Christ congregation until 1985. He was well liked and had a difficult task working with the German congregation which was sharing the building 50 % and had twice as many members.

  • In 1969, a 49 year lease was worked out for ½ time and space usage between both congregations for the amount of $30,000.

  • Between 1963 and 1968, various pastors served the congregation. The congregation was very stressed with a heavy mortgage load of their new church building. Pastor Guenter Strothotte who formerly served Church of the Cross knew that they were looking for a larger Church. He approached Pastor Fritz Rehn from Church of the Cross.

  • July 8th 1956: the new church on 41st and Ash Street was dedicated.

  • From 1951 to 1962, Rev. Eric S. Brynjolfsson, who came directly from Iceland, served the congregation. He was instrumental in the development of the church-building endeavour.

  • For 12 years, the congregation held their Worship Services at the Danish Lutheran Church. Since 1953, the German Church of the Cross held their services in the afternoon after the Icelandic Service.

  • In 1941, Rev. R. Marteinsson, from the Board of American Mission, was sent to Vancouver to establish a mission and on March 8, 1944, the Icelandic Lutheran Church was organized with 100 members.

  • History goes back to 1917 when Rev. S. Olafson from Blaine, Washington organized a congregation in Vancouver. This church dissolved in the thirties but occasional services were held at the Danish Lutheran Church.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Cross

  • Pastor R. Freytag, who was called 1985 to Church of the Cross, was then called to the Church of Christ congregation as well.

  • During the mid 1970’s (in the years of Rev. Horst Gutsche (1976-1978) and Rev. Horst Aechtner (1979-1983), immigration from Germany was practically non-existent. As a result, the congregation became weaker and attendance diminished.

  • During the Pastor Fritz Rehn (1967-1971) & Pastor Dittmar Mündel (1971-1975) years, the congregation grew very rapidly and began to stretch the limits of the new space.

  • The congregation was able to find a better more suitable place for the growing years. Rev. Strothotte, who was the Pastor for Church of Christ at that time, knew of our desire to find a larger church, and his congregation needed financial help for their mortgage. See Church of Christ.

  • In 1968, the congregation had to sell the properties to the City of Vancouver for $58,000 achieving a $22,000 profit. The Synod withdrew support from that point on and the congregation celebrated a mortgage burning event.

  • Rev. Guenter Strothotte (1961-1966) suggested the congregation should buy three revenue properties for $36,000 with the help of the Kirchliche Aussenamt in Germany (who contributed $8,061) to eventually build a bigger church with room for education.

  • The Cross Church moved into their own and renovated church on 8th Avenue & Prince Albert Street.

  • Redeemer Lutheran Church, also a former German speaking congregation, build a new church building on Laurie and Granville Streets and sell the old church to the Church of the Cross for $8,000 despite having higher offers.

  • In 1955, the church joins the United Lutheran Church in America, Pacific Synod. Only then did the congregation receive small monetary support toward a pastor’s salary. The government also granted a Marriage License privilege. Up to that point the minister of the Danish Lutheran Church had to be present at all marriages.

  • Rev. Kurt Marx, a prisoner of War of the USA, came to Canada in 1952. He was a logger and carpenter initially. In October 1953, he sent out letters of invitations to all German immigrants he had addresses for. The invitation was to start a new Lutheran Church in Vancouver. He would be the Pastor and work as carpenter on the side until the congregation could afford to pay him a salary. About 60-70 people became founding members.