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Faces Two Noahs with a common cause T


h e name No a h brings to mind pairs of animals board-


ing the ark. At Central Lutheran Church, Port- land, Ore., the name Noah also conjures images of pairs—though in this case it’s a pair of Noahs. Though both differ in


personalities and inter- ests, Noah Oyen and Noah Gerlach have tra- versed similar paths when it comes to helping others. They have experienced cultures out of country— Oyen in Nepal and Gerlach in Nicaragua. They also have an interest in the environment and have


worked with EcoFaith Recovery. The volunteer, faith-based organization deals, in part, with caring for the earth and its resources. Both also now attend Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash. “I’ve always known that I have the power to help create


change. When I was a senior in high school, my youth group leader told me to help create a summer camp related to the environment and the economy and faith,” said Oyen, refer- ring to the EcoFaith Youth Project, for which Gerlach also volunteered. “We met every week for several months figur- ing out all aspects of putting together this summer camp. It made me see how I can help make an impact. The program got people thinking in new ways.” Both Noahs also participated in a Climate Action Rally at


Portland’s City Hall in June. “Before then I hadn’t realized that our values really


100 + birthdays


With their common interest in the environment, Noah Gerlach (left) and Noah Oyen, participated in a Climate Action Rally at Portland (Oregon) City Hall in June.


aligned,” Gerlach said. “I thought, ‘He’s really into this too.’ ” The environment


continues to play a major part in Gerlach’s life. “Currently I’m the


‘It’s about having the courage to jump into it, even if you don’t know why.’


sustainability director of my residence hall, which puts me in the


position to help other residents think about sustainability and to hopefully inspire some life- long habits to help ensure the good health of our planet for future generations,” he said.


For Oyen, the idea of helping comes from an instinct. “It’s about following what feels right,” he said. “Then it’s


about having the courage to jump into it, even if you don’t know why. There’s usually a purpose in it that will change your life in unexpected ways.” The Noahs don’t have immediate plans to work together


on other projects, but Gerlach welcomes the opportunity. “I think we’re stronger when we work together,” he said. 


Author bio: Favre is an assistant professor at Pierce College in Los Ange- les and a freelance theater critic.


110: Iris Westman, Sundahl, Aneta, N.D. 109: Angie Lee, Clark- field, Clarkfield, Minn. 105: Eleanor Pharr, St. Timothy, Conover, N.C. 104: Astrid Sebens, Milnor, Milnor, N.D. 103: Helen Fossum, St. Ste- phen of the Valley, Palmdale, Calif.; Iona Johnson, Stockholm, Cokato, Minn. 102: Christine Faulstich, Our Savior, Highmore, S.D.; Adeline Lindstrom, Stockholm, Cokato, Minn. 101: Ray McCombs, Augsburg,


By Jeff Favre


Orrville, Ohio; Frances Rodrigues, Our Redeemer, Dumont, N.J.; Edna Wittig, St. Martin, Austin, Texas. 100: Einar Borness, Springfield, Decorah, Iowa; Gladys Burrell, Spirit of Christ, Lake City, Fla.; Sue Capen & Constance Dropko, Trinity, Vermilion, Ohio; Margaret Dakan, Phinney Ridge, Seattle; Eva Karroll, Lord of Life, Sun City West, Ariz.; Helen Kreppenneck, St. John, Montgomery, Pa.; Florence Olson, Christ, Stoughton, Wis.; Minnie Pihlgren, Gethsemane, Austin, Texas.


Send stories Share your stories of ELCA Lutherans and your 100+ members in “Faces.” Send to lutheran@thelutheran.org or “Faces,” The Lutheran, 8765 W. Hig gins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631.


December 2015 43


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