Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press
LISA AND PASTOR MARK JOHNSEN are settling in at the First United Methodist Church, and becoming acquainted with the congregation and the town.
A passion for outreach
Pastor Mark Johnsen begins serving Miller’s Methodist Church
Pastor Mark and Lisa Johnsen are now at home in Miller, where Mark is the new pastor at the First United Methodist Church. They arrived July 1 and they’re looking forward working with their new church family.
Prior to coming to Miller, the Johnsens were salaried directors of the youth program at the First United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls for six years. However, this is Mark’s first appointment as an ordained minister.
He explained that in the Methodist Church, the Bishop and district superintendents make the decision regarding what church a minister will serve, with input from the local church in question. The Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church includes both North and South Dakota. Pastors who live in those two states most commonly are appointed to serve churches in North or South Dakota.
Mark grew up on a farm near Frankfort, and his parents now live in Redfield. He attended South Dakota State University, and before he considered the ministry, Mark worked in banking, and directed a Habitat for Humanity project in the Black Hills.
He received his call to the ministry during a Walk to Emmaus spiritual retreat. The objective of Walk to Emmaus is to inspire, challenge, and equip local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches and places of work.
Mark was definitely inspired. He attended seminary in Sioux Falls, and says with a smile, “It’s a three year program that I ‘squeezed’ into five years.” He graduated two years ago, while working with the youth program.
Lisa is a Sioux Falls native. They have two sons, Alex, who is 21, and Austin, 18. Both are attending Black Hills State University.
The Johnsens say that when they worked with the youth program in Sioux Falls, there was at least one mission trip per year. “We have a passion for mission and outreach,” Lisa says.
“We hope to continue with outreach and evangelism,” says Pastor Mark. “It’s thinking outside the walls, putting faith to work.”
The Johnsens have met several people in downtown businesses, and they also are looking forward to meeting all church members through home visits. They have been impressed with the friendly reception they’ve received.
Because of their background in working with youth, the Johnsens plan to continue involvement with the “younger set.” Pastor Mark commented, “The youth we’ve met so far seem to be very active in the church.” He hopes to be able to coordinate activities with youth groups from other area churches.
Spare time activities include camping, biking, hiking and boating. And, oh yes, running.
“We run in the morning, and we’ve already covered quite a bit of the town,” Pastor Mark said. “If you see us running past, please wave and say hi.”