Tag Archives: Inez Oehlke

History Lessons

Yesterday I was taught the value of living history.  Inez Oehlke spoke to our youth regarding the early history of the Woodbury community. Inez and her husband Glenn farmed the land where Resurrection Lutheran Church now stands and she donated her farmstead buildings and land to the church when she moved into senior housing.

Outdoor WorshipWe now enjoy summer outdoor worship under the tall oak trees that surrounded her farmhouse and barn.


Inez Oehlke

Inez recently celebrated her 94 birthday, but she is still active in the community. She has spoken at Luther Seminary regarding stewardship and generosity as well as the  Woodbury Foundation Gala on the early history of our city. She has seen plenty of change in the city landscape, but she also sees enduring values.

Yesterday, she told the youth about the early white settlers in Woodbury: the Middleton family. The immigrated from Ireland in stages, finally settling in south Washington county prior to the Civil War. The Middleton built their home near a rough trail that the Ojibwa Indians used to travel between the Mississippi and St. Croix River. The Middleton family welcomed the Ojibwa to camp on their land and fed them whenever there where food shortages. Inez praised the Middleton family for their values of hospitality and compassion towards others.

Inez then reminded us that the city of Woodbury continues to live out these values in two significant ways. Woodbury has the most Habitat for Humanity homes of any Twin Cities suburban community; the city thus practices hospitality in a meaningful way. Woodbury’s churches continue to show compassion through food shelves (like the Christian Cupboard) that works to feed the hungry in our midst. The values the Middleton family practiced more than a 150 years ago continue to impact us today.

In our fast-paced society, we rarely take time to remember our history. Inez reminded our youth of our shared values of hospitality and compassion.

Inez with youth 2After her talk Inez was presented with a photo book that captured how Resurrection is now using her old farm house for youth ministry. She was so grateful for this token of appreciation.

I am so thankful for elders like Inez who inspire us to be faithful and generous.

What history lessons have you learned?

Lord Jesus, teach me to listen to the wisdom of my elders.

Bet the Farm on Jesus

My blog’s name, Trust Live Serve, comes from Resurrection Lutheran Church where I am  pastor.  As a congregation we are called to Trust in Jesus as Savior, Live the call of God’s Word, and Serve the World God loves.   The first phrase, Trust in Jesus as Savior, gives centrality to Jesus Christ.  Without Jesus’ life, death and resurrection there would be no reason for any church to gather.  As we move towards Holy Week and the mystery of the cross and empty tomb, I am mindful of how Jesus trusted the Father throughout the passion.  Jesus is not only the object of our trust, but a model of what trust looks like.

The Oehlke farm house remains on church property

Yesterday, I met another example of trust.  Inez Oehlke was the former owner of the farm on which Resurrection Lutheran is now built. She had been a faithful member of a neighboring Lutheran congregation, Gethsemane, and she wanted to make a contribution to her congregation.  She also knew that her farm, on the corner of Bailey Road and Woodbury Drive, was prime commercial real estate because, in time, it would be adjacent to a major intersection in this growing suburb.   She had been approached by various commercial vendors who wanted to purchase parts of her farm, but she had a different vision.  She wanted and prayed for a church on the corner.  And her prayers were answered twice.

Resurrection Lutheran from the farm buildings

Not only was Resurrection Lutheran able to purchase this prime location at a very reasonable price, but St. Ambrose Catholic church as well (St. Ambrose is across the street from Resurrection).  Inez used the purchase price to benefit her own congregation and Luther Seminary.  She now lives in a modest apartment here in Woodbury and, at the age of 91, continues to give “talks” or testimonials on the value of being generous.   After my visit with her, I came away blessed by her trust in Jesus.  Inez continues to live a vibrant life of faith.   Trust in Jesus is in the very foundation of this congregation, even in the soil itself.

Who has been a model of trust in Jesus for you?