This past Sunday, Bethany Lutheran Church, located at 34721 Church Road in Warren welcomed a new pastor.
Pastor Ingrid Aderhold met her new congregation on Oct. 13. However, she will be officially instated on Oct. 27, a date that Aderhold and Nancy Conner, Bethany Lutheran Church Council President, see as providential.
The day is Reformation Day for Lutherans, a day that marks the founding of the Lutheran denomination of Christianity. According to the church’s history, on Oct. 31 in 1517, the denomination’s founder, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a Catholic Church, sparking a reform that eventually resulted in the divide between the Protestant and Catholic Churches, and the founding of the Lutheran church.
Aderhold became a pastor about 11 years ago, after having spent 20 years traveling with her husband and their two children during her husband’s career in the Air Force. This church is Aderhold’s second call, after having spent nine years at a church in Idaho.
Bethany Lutheran’s previous pastor, Rory Scott, retired three years ago after having served for eight years. The church has been without a permanent pastor for these past three years.
According Conner, the church has relied on substitute pastors from the Evangelical Lutheran Church Association (ELCA), the denomination with which the church was affiliated until January of this year.
When the church broke off from that sect last January and became part of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), they relied on retired pastors in the area and word of mouth to find substitutes. While they were without a pastor, the church only had half a dozen lay services in the entire period, according to Conner.
“We just went by the grace of God,” Conner said.
Aderhold will be preaching in a more than 100-year-old building, which was first founded in 1907, according to Conner. About 50 members make up the official congregation, but attendance averages between 20 to 25 members each Sunday, Conner said.
Welcoming a new pastor is not the only change the church has experienced. While the church has always been Lutheran, this past January, it officially changed its affiliation within that sect.
While the church used to identify with the ELCA, church leaders felt the sect was embracing a more liberal doctrine, according to Conner, with some Lutherans not feeling comfortable with the new way of doing things.
Rather than continue to identify with ELCA doctrine, Bethany Lutheran embraced a new theology, and joined the NALC in January.
Aderhold herself, while born and raised Lutheran, has experienced what she termed different “flavors” of both Lutheranism and Protestantism. The experiences were often brought on by following her husband all over the world.
“When my husband was stationed in Spain, I was the religious education coordinator for the Protestant chapel program,” Aderhold said. “So I got to work with anything that wasn’t Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, so I got to know a lot of the different faith beliefs and see how we interact with each other, the little nuances that we think are so important while we all worship the same God.”
Aderhold said she believes it was more than chance that led her to the church.
“God brought me here,” she said.
This past spring, Aderhold said three different people came up to her within three months who recommended she check out a church in Warren. The people who told her about Bethany Lutheran were unconnected to each other, their circumstances completely different.
“And that’s like God waving the red flag,” Aderhold said.
Her previous church was in Pierce, Idaho, a rural mountain community. While she loved it there, Aderhold’s husband has health needs due to Parkinson’s disease, which made it difficult to stay much longer. The family was located two hours from the closest medical facility, and four hours from her husband’s specialists. Coupled with the harsh Idaho winters, where snow is measured in feet, not inches, the journey was all that much more difficult.
“So it was time to move and God just set it up to come to Warren, Oregon,” Aderhold said.
Aderhold said she hopes she can bring to Bethany Lutheran the care it needs, seeing as how the church has not had a permanent pastor in the last three years.
“I really feel it’s important to have that pastoral presence right there in the community, being part of the community, living with them, sharing their sorrows, sharing their joys and celebrating with them,” Aderhold said. “And that gets pretty lonely when you don’t have that available.”
People who attend church there can expect to be active participants. In Aderhold’s words, she does not like what she calls “pew-sitters,” or people who go to church to only numbly listen to the sermon.
“I’m going to be approaching people and saying, ‘what is going to be your part?’” Aderhold said.
Aderhold also promised the sermons themselves would not be political, or opinionated, but will stick to scripture.
“It will not be opinions. It will not be who you should vote for. It will be the word of God coming out of the Bible,” Aderhold said.
Aderhold said she thinks her presence will have a positive impact for local people, because she believes that everyone, everywhere struggles.
“You can’t look at any particular group of people, any particular pay scale, anything like that and say, ‘that’s where all the drug problems are, that’s where the gang problems are.’” Aderhold said. “It’s everywhere and families are suffering huge.”
“They know something’s missing, but they don’t know what it is. It’s like, ‘Well that’s that little spot where God belongs. Let me tell you about him,’” Aderhold said.