(Shown is Pastor Doug ((our Interim Pastor)) and his wife, Elaine. Pastor is serving Bethlehem Lutheran Church and First Presbyterian Church of Florence- he has been there 29 years. He is serving as Secretary of the Northern Great Lakes Synod and serves on the Synod Council and Synod Council Executive Committee. This is the sixth time he has served congregations as their Interim Pastor.
He is the Chief Deputy Coroner of Florence County and serves as Chair of the Florence County Emergency Planning Committee. He recently retired from 23 years as an EMT on the Florence Rescue Squad.
Pastor Doug and Elaine have been married 12 years. Pastor Doug enjoys reading novels, traveling, working in his yard, and being with his famiy.
Pastor Doug is committed to making sure every Thursday and Sunday we will have someone leading our service while we continue our search towards a permanent pastor. He will also take care of funerals and weddings and assist the church council.)
Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12).
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has often said this about the ELCA: “We are church. We are Lutheran. We are church together. We are church for the sake of the world. These four emphases are fundamental to identifying who the ELCA is.”
While Presiding Bishop Easton has used those words in reference to our ELCA, she very well could have used those words to describe Grace Lutheran Church of Pembine, Wisconsin. You see we are church. It is as St. Paul stated in the passage I included above: we are one body all of us who name Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are one body, one unit, one family. While all who believe are part of that family, the Body of Christ, the Communion of Saints, the Priesthood of all Believers, we here at Grace are a family: the Grace Family of God. We are church!
One of the things that makes us a unique church is that we are Lutheran. We Lutherans have a valuable and awesome message to which we adhere and proclaim -- and that is the Biblical message that we obtain salvation in God’s eternal kingdom through our faith in Jesus Christ who then by his grace gifts us with the forgiveness of our sin and eternal life. It is a gift that we Lutherans constantly proclaim to the rest of the body of and the world lest this gracious and lifesaving message of the Bible be lost. We are Lutheran!
And while we are Lutheran, we are still church together. We are church together as ELCA Lutherans with the other 10,000 plus congregations who are a part of this church. We are Lutheran with other Lutheran bodies around this world -- even if some of them don’t want to be church with us. And we are church together with the whole body of Christ. Together we present a witness to: the love of God for all of God’s people; the salvation God offers to all who believe in Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives and the church for the better. We are Church together!
And like any other part of the Church of Jesus Christ, we are church for the sake of the world. Our whole reason for being church is to proclaim the love of God and the salvation God offers in Jesus Christ through our words and our deeds so that all might come to be in a personal relationship with God.
We, as a church, do not exist exclusively for our individual selves, or for our individual congregations, or only for Lutherans -- we are church for the sake of the world.
We proclaim the love of God and salvation in Jesus Christ not on our own, but empowered by God himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in our church family and in our world. The world in which we live and the people who surround us in this world are constantly growing and changing. And so the Holy Spirit is always seeking to empower his church to meet the challenges of being church in a changing world. Who we were as individuals and as church 10 years ago, or 5 years ago, or even yesterday, may not be what the Holy Spirit needs for us to be tomorrow. Being faithful to God means we must be constantly growing and perhaps even changing who we are as people and as church, always being faithful to the example of church we find in Jesus Christ: that we seek to love one another as Christ has already loved us.
Now I am not a big fan of change and my guess is that change is difficult for you, too. But if we are to be faithful to our God; if we are to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ; if we are to be faithful to the Holy Spirit who moves within each of us then we need to find ways to deal with the change that comes in our lives and in our church -- no that is not right -- in Christ’s church.
We all refer to Grace as OUR church. And it is ours because we give of ourselves, our time, our skills, our talents, our financial resources to the life and ministry of this congregation. But in reality, Grace Lutheran Church is Christ’s church and the Holy Spirit is going to seek to make us into the church that Christ needs for us to be. So let us be open to the workings and movings of the Holy Spirit. We may be thrilled with the way the Spirit moves us as individuals or as a congregation. We may not be the least bit happy with the way the Spirit moves us as individuals or as a congregation. But the Spirit moves and directs as the Spirit needs because this is Christ’s Church -- not my church or our church.
We are church. We are Lutheran. We are church together. We are church for the sake of the world. I say thanks be to God for the joy and the privilege that God gives to each one of us to be a part of his church in this world. Let us love one another as Jesus Christ our Lord loves us.
Pastor Doug Johnson
Office Phone: 715-528-4851
Home Phone: 715-528-4458
Cell Phone: 715-938-0962
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 535, Florence, WI 54121