The Lacombe Ministerial Association has a new president.
Effective at the turn of the year, Reverend Leon H. Johnston, or Pastor Leon as he likes to be called, has begun his term as president for the inter-faith collaborative group based in Lacombe.
Members of the Lacombe Ministerial Association take turns serving as president of the association, said Johnston. Terms are usually for one year, and the group discusses and decides together whose turn it is to be president.
“It’s more of a communal discernment,” said Johnston.
Because he had been in the community for three years previous and was deemed to be well established, the association decided that it was Johnston’s turn to serve as president, he said.
He added that some who have been members of the Lacombe Ministerial Association for several years had already had their turn, or even a second one, at being president.
Johnston, who has been ordained for five years, said he decided to become a minister because he felt a calling from God. He added that it took some time, years actually, for him to realize this calling.
Before making that gradual realization, Johnston was a teacher for four years. Even then, Johnston was beginning to feel a call to a faith-related career. He said that most of the classes he taught related to religion in some form like church history or faith studies. “I could see my trajectory was more headed toward the church anyway, so I was preparing for that.”
Johnston came to be at Wolf Creek Community Church in Lacombe after serving a church in British Columbia. He said his denomination, the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA), works on a “calling system” and members of the community called to ask him to come to Lacombe and serve a church in the community.
Bethel and Woody Nook are also CRCNA churches serving the area. Johnston said it is quite common to have multiple churches in the denomination serving the same community because each church serves a different facet of it.
Woody Nook is outside of Lacombe and serves the rural population.
Bethel is inside the City and serves what Johnston called the more “traditional” members of the Christian Reformed Church. Wolf Creek Community Church, as the name implies, serves the community as a whole.
“We do all have, if you like, different target audiences,” said Johnston. “It actually works very well.”
As with any organization, the purpose of the Lacombe Ministerial Association has changed a bit throughout the years, said Johnston. However, the general purpose of the group remains the same, to gather church leaders for mutual encouragement, prayer and to collaborate in ministry.
A good way to sum up the Lacombe Ministerial Association might be to say it is one part networking group and one part support group. Collaboration among Lacombe’s ministers is valuable, said Johnston, because ministry as a profession is quite unique and there is a sense that only other pastors will understand some of the strains and stresses of their work.
He said the first half of the ministerial association’s monthly meetings are spent sharing stories and learning how they can pray for and support each other.
“There is something very encouraging about meeting with people that totally understand what you are going through.”
With that collaboration, the ministers of Lacombe are more effective at preaching the word of God and serving the community of Lacombe, said Johnston. He added that it also important for the association to serve the community as a whole or the ‘Church of Lacombe,’ as Johnston calls it.
Even when the ministerial association gets involved in community projects that aren’t necessarily directly related to religion, they are still embodying the Christian lifestyle through work that benefits the community.
What direction the Lacombe Ministerial Association decides to go this term will depend somewhat on what the body decides as a whole, but Johnston said he already has some goals in mind.
He said he would like to work at unifying the group and defining some clear goals in order to increase efficiency.
As part of the goal of the ministry is also to promote and spread the word of the Gospel, Johnston is also looking at new avenues of sharing the Good Word with the community, he said.
To that effect, the ministry is working on bringing a new feature to the Lacombe Express, a faith column written by the church leaders of Lacombe and area that will discuss issues of religion and reflect on theological doctrine.
Readers can look forward to reading the bi-weekly column in coming issues of the Lacombe Express in the near future.