The roots of Zoar Lutheran Church go back to 1892, when a group of settlers from the fertile farmlands around Canby came together to worship and serve God. The name they chose for their congregation speaks to the hope and longing of its founders: In Hebrew “Zoar” means “little,” and Zoar became the name of the small town where Lot and his family sought refuge before the destruction of their city. (See Genesis 19:20-23.) For the early pioneers in Canby, Zoar Lutheran Church became a “little place of refuge.”
Over the decades, the members and friends of Zoar have enjoyed the blessings of good times and weathered the storms of hard times: World War I, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, World War II and its aftermath, to name just a few. Through it all, these resilient, faithful servants have continued to gather for worship, fellowship, and service, drawing strength from God’s abiding presence, encouraging each other in faith, and sharing Christ’s love with their neighbors in word and deed.
Today Zoar Lutheran Church continues to serve as a “little place of refuge” that offers big hospitality. Pastor Michelle Manicke feels blessed to share in the ministry of God’s people at Zoar Lutheran Church, where she has served since November 2017. She writes:
“During this uncertain time of pandemic and protest, the church building is closed, and yet the church is more “open” than ever. Every day the members and friends of Zoar are living out our mission statement, “responding in service to God’s love,” as they reach out to our neighbors with listening ears, helping hands, hot meals, quilts, and furniture. I’m humbled and grateful to serve as their pastor.”
Pastor Michelle is a second career pastor, who has a PhD. in German Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1994). She was ordained into the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in 1998 and has served congregations throughout the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area. For fourteen years of her twenty-two years in ministry, she served as a transition specialist, helping congregations examine their history and discern future directions for ministry and leadership.
She is married to Robert, who is a judge, and they have three young adult children, Anne, Peter, and David, and a high-strung, but sweet German Shepherd named Ulrike Langschnauz (“Ulli” for short). In her precious free time, she enjoys hanging out with her family, walking her neighborhood, and (on occasion!) visiting the Oregon Coast. In normal times, she enjoys traveling with Robert, especially to England, where she has cousins, and to Hawaii, where she loves to snorkel and marvel at the amazing diversity and beauty of God’s creation.