Rev. Paul Andrew Johnson
- Bowler, WI
Lutheran Church of the Wilderness
What brings you joy in your ministry?
I love people. So whenever I get to interact with people I'm happy. Worship, visitations, bible studies and potlucks are some of my personal favs. As of late, I'm finding a growing joy in working with youth. That both excites and scares me!
Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?
There are too many to name them all, but I especially appreciate all the LGBTQ+, female, and POC clergy who showed me a pastor doesn't have to be a cis-gendered white man to be called to ministry. I give thanks to God to all my family for their support and encouragement through seminary.
What are your interests outside of ministry?
Crocheting, Reading, Biking, Walking, Baking, Cleaning and Listening to Music.
Best meal you've ever eaten?
The Lord's Supper/Eucharist. It strengthens me for the joys and struggles of life.
I grew up in West DePere, WI, right next to Green Bay (Go Packers!) I attended Elementary-High School in West DePere's School District, followed by Undergrad at St. Norbert College in the same town. I graduated with a Major in English--Creative Writing, and a Minor in French December of 2009. A mere week after graduation, I received the call to ministry, and spent the next 1.5 years getting involved in my home congregation and reconnecting with the church. I received my Master of Divinity in 2015 from Wartburg Theological Seminary.
Did you always want to be clergy?
I felt a calling to work with the church when I was in my teens, but quickly rejected it because I "lacked the proper skills." Again the call surfaced after graduation from high school, but I dismissed it since I had felt excluded as unworthy by certain members of the church. Finally in 2009, at a Christmas Eve service (of all places!) I walked in and felt overcome with the call. I had a moment of panic in the church where I was so filled with emotion that I thought I was going to die. I remember thinking "Okay, God. You win." Immediately I was able to breathe again, and was filled with joy. I ran out of excuses, and spoke with my parents, followed by my pastor.
Fall of 2011 I entered seminary at Wartburg Theological Seminary with a fantastic group of folks! We had our differences, but I never felt rejected or less included because of my sexual orientation--in regards to classmates as well as professors and staff. I absolutely loved my internship with St. Stephen's Lutheran Church and St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, IA. I felt fortunate to be there while they discussed and eventually voted to be an RIC Congregation. While it took me two years of waiting, I am overjoyed to be working with the Lutheran Church of the Wilderness as their pastor. I can't wait to see what new surprises this calling brings!