The Rev. Cynthia O'Brien aims to foster a welcoming congregation as the new pastor

COURTESY PHOTO: CYNTHIA O'BRIEN - Cynthia O'Brien, the new pastor at Woodburn First Presbyterian Church, has experience as a minister, preacher and musician. 
Woodburn First Presbyterian Church now has a new pastor, the Rev. Cynthia O'Brien, who has been ordained as a Presbyterian minister since 1993. O'Brien, who grew up in Los Angeles, has served churches in Southern California and the Portland area as a pastor, preacher and musician.

Her first Sunday as pastor at the Woodburn church was Jan. 21. She is a half-time employee of the church.

In addition to working as a reverend, O'Brien has taught courses in spirituality through art forms including altered books, mandalas, calligraphy and collage. She also plays a variety of instruments and has taught voice, piano, guitar, ukulele and harp lessons.

O'Brien first came to Woodburn as a guest preacher on two occasions. She said in a written statement that she was struck by the congregants' kindness and welcoming nature during that visit.

"When I first visited the Woodburn Presbyterian congregation as a guest preacher, I found them lighthearted and full of grace. It was clear that they loved one another fiercely," O'Brien wrote. "Everyone is kind to one another and they don't take themselves too seriously."

She said she's also impressed by the church's focus on giving back to the community. "The church supports several important works," she wrote. "Meals on Wheels prepares and delivers lunch to over 80 seniors four days a week from the church kitchen. Head Start has three bilingual preschool classes at the church serving over 50 children every week."

O'Brien said her sermons focus on the ways ancient wisdom speaks to what's going on in the modern day.

"I hope my efforts result in a message that is interesting, engaging and ultimately inspiring for anyone listening, whatever their age, background or life circumstances," O'Brien wrote.

She said one of her first projects as the new pastor will be planning for the church's community garden this year. The garden, located on the church property near the corner of Boones Ferry Road and Highway 214 and across the street from French Prairie Middle School, allows the church to harvest fresh food that's donated to the food bank.

O'Brien emphasized that she wants to continue making the church a welcoming place.

"All are welcome," she wrote. "Those who might feel excluded for reasons such as race, belief or lack thereof, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other reason will find love and acceptance at First Presbyterian."

Julia Comnes can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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