A former Oregon pastor, who held one of the highest positions in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, died on Jan. 29, at age 66.
After serving as pastor Faith Lutheran Church, 143 Washington St, from 1990 to 1993, Rev. John Moldstad moved on to be president of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Mankato, Minnesota — the highest position in the church which he had held since 2002. To celebrate his life and reflect on that growth, family and friends held a funeral for him on Saturday, Feb. 6.
A Faith Lutheran Church congregation member of Moldstad’s spoke to how he embodied “humility” throughout his career.
Rick Waldschmidt said Moldstad was the type of person who was “immediately likeable” and always wore a smile. It was during these three years that the Faith Lutheran grew into a self-reliant congregation that was no longer financially reliant on the Synod, current pastor Jeffrey Hendrix told the Observer.
That means, Hendrix explained, Faith Lutheran has reached “maturity” as a congregation. Before Moldstad was called to the church, it still needed financial support from the Synod, Hendrix said.
Moldstad also attracted members to the church through his theological knowledge and his warm attitude, Waldschmidt said. He always made an effort to get to know people, he said.
“He was first concerned for you as an individual before himself, and then behind every good man there’s a good woman — that was Jocelyn,” Waldschmidt said.
Moldstad, his wife Josyln, and their four kids at the time moved to the community from Arizona when he was called to Faith Lutheran. It was a new church, full of parents and kids that the Moldstad family fit into, Waldschmidt said.
Hendrix said that Moldstad loved Oregon and felt it was a place he could’ve stayed for years. However, when he received the call to move to the Synod headquarters in Mankato, Minnesota to be a professor, and eventually president, he knew he had a bigger mission at hand, Hendrix said.
As the Synod president, Moldstad went on to oversee over 100 churches across the United States and missions around the world, Hendrix said. He filled vacant roles in churches, sent missionaries around the world and worked to maintain positive relationships with other church bodies, Hendrix said.
Hendrix said Moldstad wasn’t just a committed pastor to the overall Synod, but he was a “pastor for pastors,” Hendrix said.
“He was always so encouraging to all of us,” Hendrix said. “He was always on the move, and always willing to be a pastor to those kind of under his care.”
Not only was he encouraging to Hendrix, but Moldstad set an example of how a good pastor should act, Hendrix said. Moldstad always took the focus off of himself and redirected it toward Jesus in his sermons, Hendrix said.
Even after leaving Oregon, Moldstad kept in touch with people from the congregation and always made a point to create connections. Waldschmidt explained that he wouldn’t be surprised if Moldstad knew half of the 25,000 people in the Synod by name.
Synod means to “walk together,” Hendrix explained. And that is what Moldstad stood for, Hendrix said.
“He embodied that in how he served and how he led,” Hendrix said. “He was a brother to all of us pastors, and really to all of us in the synod, and so he was a brother among equals.”