Sacred Space: A Short Biography
The Rev. Dr. Lon A Rycraft
What does a chicken farm, the Mary’s River, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Kalaupapa, Moloka’i all have in common? They all helped to create a rhythm and melody to my calling to the ministry.
Growing up on a farm along the Mary’s River outside Corvallis, Oregon, our family attended The Federated Church in town. When the Presbyterians and Congregationalists filed for divorce, my mom and dad became Congregationalists, and I began my spiritual journey in the United Church of Christ.
We gathered at the Woman’s Building. Moved to the Masonic Temple where planets and stars adorned the walls and ceiling. In 1963 Florence and Jess Hanson gave our congregation five acres of land on his chicken farm, and we started building First Congregational United Church of Christ in Corvallis, Oregon.
As a kid, I remember going out to migrant camps in the early sixties, the women helped with sewing, and the men worked on cars and played baseball. I learned how to lay tile and clean the windows as our new sanctuary took shape. At Claremont School of Theology I majored in biblical studies and the arts, received my Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees, and yes played Snout, the lion, while Titania slept in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
My sense of spirituality, theology and faith have been deepened by the eleven years I spent with Hansen’s disease patients on the remote Kalaupapa peninsula on the island of Moloka’i with my wife Ellen Christine Storm. It was in Kalaupapa at Kana’ana Hou-Siloama UCC that I learned to not be afraid to share my stories of faith and sacred space.
I am enthusiastic to be able to share the ministry and mission of Normandy Park Congregational UCC with others. I enjoy kayaking, hiking, playing guitar, and take piano lessons for therapy. The newest member of our family is a Rottweiler puppy named Lehua. I am in love with life, and I believe our children, youth and young adults are the future of our church.