Jack and Linda Gustafson were in their early thirties when they felt the call of God on their lives to return to their hometown of Canby and start a Foursquare Church. Linda’s father had pioneered the Canby Alliance Church in 1960 and Jack’s parents had been very involved in both the Evangelical Free Church and the Alliance church.
With prayer, encouragement, and a small ad placed in the Canby Herald, they opened the doors for their first service on November 4, 1978 in the basement of the Willamette Savings & Loan building (now Chase Bank). By December they had outgrown that space and began to meet on Sunday mornings at Ackerman Junior High, where they met for the next four years.
Linda Gustafson started a Sunday School program, as well as a Tuesday morning Women’s Bible Study and yearly Women’s Retreats. These all remain to this day. Jack’s brother Steve & sister-in-law Lois were some of the church’s first leaders, becoming the first sound man and main pianist. Doug and Lori Sprague, when barely out of their teens, became the first youth group leaders. All continue to serve at New Life and both Steve and Doug serve on the Council.
In the fall of 1981, the Lord wonderfully orchestrated the purchase of property with one building: a large construction shop, almost completely buried by blackberry vines and brush. After much hard work by the now flourishing body, the first service at 2350 SE Territorial Rd. was held on September 12, 1982. The church grew 50% in the first two months after moving in. That building is now building 1, the Next Gen headquarters.
Jack and Linda left in August 1985 to plant another Foursquare Church in Florida, and Jim and Connie Kingsbury became senior pastors. They served until 1988, when they left to serve as missionaries in the Middle East. Building 2 was built, and adjoining property was purchased.
When Ron and Annette Swor became our pastors in September 1988, there were about 180 people in the congregation, one custodian, one part-time children’s director, one volunteer secretary, and two buildings on the church grounds. The rest, as they say, is history. After adding services, staff, modular buildings, and adjoining properties, the need to build a new sanctuary became apparent. After a years-long process, Building A, the Main Sanctuary, was complete, and we moved in October of 2001.
New Life has been called a hospital, a place of blessing, and a place to grow, connect and serve. Our mission and desire is to serve and love Jesus and others. We are privileged to have been the birthplace of many new congregations over the years, as well as Canby Bible College, founded in 1998. We are grateful to the Lord for our New Life family as it grows and changes, and also thankful for the rich heritage and traditions and faces that remain the same.