(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.)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all of you!
As most of you read this newsletter you might be surprised that we in the church are still in the midst of the Christmas season. It’s true, you may have already taken down your tree and put away all of the decorations at home. But for us in the church, Christmas is so wonderful and so amazing that we celebrate for 12 days -- yes, just like the song. At Christmas God came to us to dwell with us -- Emmanuel. Who could ever have dreamed that the God of all creation would do such an extraordinary thing? The God of creation became a human being in Jesus for you and for me -- for everyone. And Jesus came to save us from our sin. The Bible also tells us that Jesus came to make all things new.
Jesus came to make things new because the old ways weren’t working. The people were not being and doing what God had created them to be and do. The church was not doing its job in the spiritual ways of leading and guiding God’s people. The government was not governing the people the way that God intended to have government govern. So Jesus came to change, to reform, to make things new so that God and all human beings could be together in a mutual loving relationship.
Well, here we are some 2,000 years later and Jesus has come to us again at Christmas. But Jesus comes to us every day, calling, beckoning, urging, even pleading with us to give up our sinful ways and enter into a personal relationship with our God. Everyday Jesus is trying to make something new and better out of each of us so that we will rely more upon God and less upon ourselves; so that we will be more the people God created us to be who love God and love our neighbors.
Jesus also comes to us every day to renew his church. The ways that the church has worked and shared the good news of God’s love in days past may not all work today. We all know that fewer and fewer people today choose to be part of the church. Many say the church is not relevant to them. Many just don’t know what the church is really all about Yet, we have in our hearts and spirits and bodies the very best good news that there ever was -- that God loves you and me and everyone whether they are part of a church family or not. And it is God’s desire that this good news is proclaimed and shared throughout this world.
The people of Grace Lutheran Church have done wonderful ministry over the lifetime of this church family. And I know that God will continue to work through all of you and even others not yet a part of the Grace family in the months and years to come to grow his kingdom in Pembine and out into the world. Yet, just as God seeks to renew each of us, God is also seeking to renew the church including Grace. How is God calling us to better share the message of his love with the greater Pembine area and the world? What are we doing at Grace right now that is great and wonderful and is something we ought to celebrate and encourage? What is God calling us to look at with fresh eyes or do in way that might be better than the way we have always done it? What ministry of our church needs a “new coat of paint” and what ministry needs to be better supported and lifted up? What are we not doing that we should be doing?
None of us likes change much. But folks, the simple fact is that we in the church cannot continue to do church the way we have done it for the past 75 or 100 years. If we continue the way we have in the past it will be only a matter of time until the last living member of Grace will turn out the lights and lock the door for the last time. This is Christ’s Church. And Christ seeks to renew each of us and his church so that we can do the best possible job of sharing the Good News of his love with other people.
In this new year I invite you to open your hearts and spirits to the renewing grace and love of Christ’s Holy Spirit. This is Christ’s church and Christ calls us and the whole church to be the best that we can be for the sake of the world and the God who loves us so much he became one of us.
May God bless us and use us as he will in this new year.
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