Senior Pastor John Hogenson 1958-2017

I will look upward, travel onward, and not be afraid.

On January 14, we celebrated the life and ministry of Senior Pastor John D. Hogenson who died at the age of 58 after an 18-month journey with an inoperable brain tumor. Pastor Hogenson was called to be Mount Olivet’s eighth senior pastor in June of 2014. In Pastor Hogenson’s time with us, he always put God first, reminding us through word and action that our relationship with the Lord is our number one priority. He started at Stewardship dinners by teaching us the true meaning of giving. He brought us together at Fireside Chats, asking us what makes Mount Olivet “a church unlike any other,” and asking us to imagine what the future could look like.

He encouraged us to come to worship – challenging us in his sermons to do things such as reconnect with someone we were in conflict with, or to come back next Sunday after having read and reflected upon the scripture. He taught us that the goal of reading through the Bible was not to just get through it, rather the goal was for God to get through us. Mount Olivet was blessed to have him as our senior pastor. Although the time was all too brief, he had a lasting impact on the life of our congregation.

Pastor Hogenson would want me to thank all of you who traveled this journey with him and encouraged him with your cards, notes, and words on CaringBridge and Facebook. The congregation meant much to him. So now, let us say with one voice, “Thank you Pastor Hogenson, thank you for everything.” We all will miss him dearly, but we will all face the New Year with courage and hope because of the strong witness Pastor Hogenson gave us to the power of faith. Our prayers for Ruth and family continue. Peace to his memory.


A Valentine

In my letter last month, I gave a “shout out” to our pastors. This month of February, I want to send a Valentine to our great lay staff. Through several transitions and uncertainty, they have moved forward with commitment to doing their jobs with care and professionalism. I love working with them and I perceive that the congregation understands and appreciates the great work they do. Yes, they, too, are “lovers” of the flock and caregivers. I also send valentines of thanks to our tremendous volunteers – those unsung heroes of every congregation who give of themselves to build up the church. So, February is a month of expressing our gratitude to the disciples of Jesus and the great reminder that we love “because he first loved us.” “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

Oh, yes, all we need is love, but a little chocolate, now and then, helps. Remember that on Fat Tuesday!

Yes, Fat Tuesday also falls in this month which means Ash Wednesday is March 1. This year’s Lenten theme is “Delighting in God’s Ways.” The five Wednesdays will focus on helping us to see the Ten Commandments as a means of grace. Through the cross the commandments become our aid and, therefore, our friend. This will be elaborated on in the March Messenger.

February is the time we typically prepare for SUMMER! Yes, promotions are underway for summer camps, events, and programs. Cathedral of the Pines Camp Rally is February 12. See more information about our summer programs.

Looking in the rear view mirror: what a great event we had with Feed My Starving Children. 500+ volunteers packed 95,000 packets of food to be shipped to Jamaica where we have an ongoing ministry (Mission Jamaica). It was a great intergenerational event. We were delighted that our grandchildren joined us in this fun-filled event to help others. This was part of our year-long emphasis on “95 Acts of Service.” Thank you volunteers!

February also brings our Senior Pastor-Elect David Lose to the Minneapolis Campus pulpit on February 26, the day of our annual meeting. We will gather at 1pm in the main sanctuary at Minneapolis to elect members to the congregational council, adopt a budget, and hear reports from our pastors.