This story encompasses the spirit of giving and the impact of one family’s legacy. Merlin (Mel) Morasch, owner of Morasch Meats, lived close to Western Seminary’s Portland location as a beloved neighbor and cared deeply for the students who attended. He was a man who valued others and gave expecting nothing in return. He was familiar with the common story of many seminary students forsaking a well-paying job to embark on a life of study and service as they committed to learning the Word of God and sharing it with others. Many students found living paycheck to paycheck to become a normal part of life. Being aware of this reality, Mel wanted to find an opportunity to encourage these students and their families through blessing them with something unexpected.

Oregon’s largest newspaper, The Oregonian, described Morasch Meats as a company that is deeply committed to their family roots, the quality of their work, and staying on the cutting edge of food-safety technology. Not mentioned by the paper, but well known to Western Seminary, is that the company has also for the past 46 years carefully selected a variety of individually packaged select meats to create 25-pound boxes to give to students in need at Western Seminary. This meat box can bless a family with quality meals for weeks to come, and includes delicious options such as lamb chops, marinated steak, peppered bacon, pot roast, hamburger patties, and more. 

This kick-started an annual tradition held in early December where employees who worked with Mel excitedly prepared these boxes. It quickly became a family wide event that Mel’s children, grandchildren, and employees looked forward to participating in every Christmas. 

This past year was particularly emotional as Mel went to be with the Lord in March of 2018. His two sons, Steve and Michael, wanted to honor the legacy their father had faithfully begun, so they worked with their team to keep the tradition alive.  

As such, 100 Western Seminary students at the Portland location received boxes this past December; and the recent gift box was filled with much more than delicious meats. For in each box was a financial gift and a letter sharing remembrances of Mel from his long-time pastor, Rich Hagenbaugh. Pastor Rich described the privilege it was to see Mel every Sunday morning, and to be a past recipient of his gifts while he was a student at Western Seminary. As Pastor Rich says, “He was generous, and we never saw him without a smile.”

It is no secret that Mel leaves a legacy of giving both in times of abundance and want. 

Steven and Michael Morasch shared a touching story about their father and his time of serving during World War II. This story embodies the strong feelings Mel held toward helping others: 

“Having been assigned as an officer originally, Mel was made a medic after the Army decided there was no longer a need for more officers. He was sent to the Netherlands and one occasion was tasked with retrieving a deceased Lieutenant’s body down in a valley, with other US troops and opposing soldiers located on the other side. Wearing the ‘Red Cross’ medic emblem, he held up a white flag, risking getting shot at by snipers, and proceeded to go down into the valley. We used his story in a Sunday School class referencing Psalm 23, ‘Yeah, though I walk thru the Valley of Death, I will fear no evil.  For you art with me.’ This is what it looks like to step out in faith.  It is stories like this that I feel seminary students who make life commitments without fully knowing what will happen need to hear about. God has a plan for us, and we need to do our duty and follow the leading of the Spirit in faith. 

Dad always told us in our business lives, ‘If the Lord is for you, then who can be against you?’ We have seen many confirmations we are on the right path and will continue to try and honor our father and the right commitments he made. We wish all seminary students will be blessed with confirmations that show them the Lord is in charge confirming and carrying them through their trials in life.”

Mel Morasch

We hope you are as blessed by this story as we have been, and we pray the Lord would bless you abundantly to find ways to use what you have been given to bless others in this year ahead, like the example given to us by this incredible family. 

John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he is dead, yet he lives. And those that live and believe in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 

-An encouraging verse shared by Pastor Rich to the Morasch Family