John Longstaff Goodenberger

Rev. John Goodenberger


June 30, 1924 — Aug. 13, 2017

The Rev. John Longstaff Goodenberger died at the age of 93 on Aug. 13, 2017, in Milwaukie, Oregon.

John was born June 30, 1924, in Kuilungkiang, Yunnan Province, China, to Ernest C. Goodenberger and Hilda Longstaff, who were Presbyterian missionaries. His parents ministered to a village, including a leper colony of Tai Lu people, located 26 days by horseback from the nearest city.

In 1935, the family relocated to Chiang Mai, Thailand. For the next two years, John attended Kodaikanal Boarding School in southern India — a two-week journey to and from school via steamship, train and bus.

The family returned to the U.S. in 1938, and John graduated from high school in Belgrade, Montana, in 1942. He attended Park College in Parkville, Missouri, receiving a degree in history in 1945, and McCormick Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, where he received his divinity degree in 1948.

Although John dreamed of going to the mission field in China or Thailand, he didn’t meet the requirement of being married. Instead, his first pastorate was First Presbyterian Church in Salem, Oregon, working with youth in 1948. While there, he was a chaplain for the Oregon Senate. When John’s writing skills were discovered, he was asked to edit Senate bills.

In 1951, he began an eight-year pastorate at Grace Presbyterian Church (Acreage Community Church) in Portland. He married Peggy Pray, whom he met and worked with at McCormick Seminary, on May 8, 1953. John had two pastorates in Montana: First Presbyterian, Anaconda, for seven years and First Presbyterian, Great Falls, for four years.

In 1970, the family moved to Astoria, Oregon, where John pastored First Presbyterian Church until his retirement in 1987. He and Peggy moved to Willamette View Manor in Milwaukie, Oregon, in 2000. However, he remained the Astoria church’s pastor emeritus until his death.

John was preceded in death by his wife, Peggy, in 2015; his brother, Alton, in 2014; and his sister, Ruth, in 1934. He is survived by his sister, Dorothy Goodenberger; children Susan Schneider, Jennifer Goodenberger, Mark Goodenberger (Denise Dillenbeck) and John E. Goodenberger; grandchildren Matthew, (Stacy), Joshua, Joy, and Elizabeth Schneider, Noelle and Sophia Goodenberger; a great-granddaughter, Isabella Schneider; a sister-in-law, Dona Key; and 10 nieces and nephews.

Community and social justice through faith were important to John. He founded ecumenical ministerial associations within each of the towns he lived. While under his leadership, First Presbyterian Church in Astoria became a meeting place for the Jewish community. Seder and Hanukkah were celebrated in its Fellowship Hall.

In Anaconda, a copper-mining town where there was animosity between the Protestant and Irish Catholic churches, John worked to develop harmony and establish joint Thanksgiving Eve services. When Job Corps was first introduced there in 1964, he clothed the African-American men who were not prepared for a Montana winter, invited them to his church and welcomed them into the family home, with Peggy’s support and encouragement. He later served on the Job Corps Community Relations Committee in Astoria.

Music, hiking and travel were integral to John’s life. He played numerous instruments, sang in choirs and played hand bells. In the last year of his life, he hummed hymns continually. Until he was 70, John spent part of every summer directing youth camps or leading backpack trips into the Cascade and Wallowa mountains. He also trekked the Himalayas. He and Peggy later cruised the Mediterranean and Danube River. And, they encircled the globe many times via “Semester at Sea” or cargo ship.

John was president of the Astoria Kiwanis Club, chairman of the Clatsop Care Center and an original “Medicare Boy” within the Presbyterian Church.

Donations may be made to the Presbyterian World Missions, or to your favorite charity.

A memorial service with be held on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1103 Grand Ave., in Astoria.

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