(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.)
I think I have nearly recovered, at least physically. On August 5-10, I had the privilege of serving as a voting member to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly of our Evangelical Lutheran Church which was held in Milwaukee, WI. Along with over 900 other voting members (seven others from our Northern Great Lakes Synod) the Assembly tended to the business of our church. We were gathered under the theme “We are Church”. The days were long. The days were intense. But we were church together.
Thankfully not all of the week was business. We gathered for worship and the sharing of Holy Communion every day. Worshiping with over 1,000 people is quite the experience. We heard powerful sermons including ones from our retiring Church Secretary and our Presiding Bishop. There was a band with numerous kinds of instruments to lead our singing of hymns traditional and more contemporary from ethnicities and nationalities around the world. We prayed and heard scripture read in a number of different languages. We are a very diverse church and our worship during the Assembly reflected that diversity. We were Church together.
There were meals shared together every day. Our synod voting member got in the habit of eating together and discussing the business and events of the day. All of us were willing to share our thoughts, ideas, and experiences of the Assembly. It was good to be amongst folks I knew and whose opinions I trusted. We were Church together.
And of course we did the business of the church. A Churchwide Assembly is held only once every three years and is the highest legislative body of our church. So the Assembly spent much of its legislative work setting policy and direction for the whole ELCA. Some of the significant items of business completed by the Assembly were:
* Re-elected on the first ballot the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton to serve a second six-year term as our Presiding Bishop.
* Elected Deacon Sue Rothmeyer to a six-year term as our new ELCA Secretary. She was installed during the Assembly’s closing worship and will begin her term on November 1.
* Approved a social statement “Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Call to Action” and its implementing resolutions. The statement, in part, names patriarchy and sexism as sins and calls the church to action on a range of issues including workplace discrimination, economic inequality, and gender based violence.
* Adopted “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment” which will serve as church policy for inter-religious relations. There were 39 ecumenical and inter-religious guests in attendance when the document was adopted.
* Adopted budgets for the next three years.
* Celebrated in worship and with a banquet the 50th anniversary of the ordination of the first woman Lutheran pastor and called the congregations and synods of the ELCA to commemorate this anniversary during 2020.
* Affirmed the ELCA’s long-standing commitment to migrants and refugees and declared the ELCA a sanctuary church body.
* Approved amendments to the Constitutions, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA.
* Elected members to serve on the ELCA Church Council, Churchwide committees and Churchwide boards, including Portico Benefit Services, the Mission Investment Fund and 1517 Media.
In all of this and more legislative work, we were church together.
We have many very fine folks who lead us and do the work of the Churchwide organization including our Presiding Bishop and our newly elected Secretary. I am thankful for all of our Churchwide staff as they love Jesus, care about this church and the work we do together in the name of Jesus Christ.
The days were long and intense, but the work was important, the worship inspiring and the fellowship was good. It was my privilege to be a small part in this important work of our church. We were church together. I would be happy to visit with you about the Assembly and its work if you have questions.
Yours in Christ,
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