In 2004, a growing Immanuel Lutheran Church (ILC) Congregation determined the need for a new home beyond its present location at 1036 E. Lincoln Street. A five-year Capital Campaign was established to acquire 8.2 acres of farmland in west Woodburn (Evergreen Road and Linfield Avenue), in the middle of open fields that would soon be developed into a residential neighborhood of subdivisions and apartment complexes. Property plans included a new Church Building along with parking facilities and outdoor park amenities. The 2008 Great Recession created a chilling effect on the capital campaign, putting the project on hold.

In 2015, ILC leaders determined that their faith called them to hear diverse voices beyond the ILC membership so a new, broader vision could be considered. It was recognized that the ILC congregation was shrinking (impacted by an aging membership, a series of interim pastors, and member departures due to the 2009 ELCA vote to be inclusive of gay and lesbian clergy) and that perhaps God had greater plans for the 8 acres. What if ILC could seek potential partnerships that would both provide for a new spiritual home and meet the compelling needs of the broader Woodburn

With a 2016 Ford Family Foundation grant, and then an outreach campaign to hear the voices of a diverse group of community and spiritual stakeholders, the idea for the Greater Woodburn Opportunity Center was born.