By McKenna MIDDLETON, intern
On Oct. 12, Lutheran Church in the Foothills bid farewell to beloved pastor Bruce Johnson. Johnson served as the pastor at LCIF for 12 years as part of his 38-year ministry. The LCIF congregation commemorated his contributions to their community with a retirement party at the church campus.
Johnson announced his impending retirement in September. Of all the pastors LCIF has seen over the years, Johnson’s leadership covered the largest span of time.
Johnson began his ministry in the ’70s. He was a business major in college and married the love of his life, Gwen, before he felt called to ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. This began his 38-year journey through four states and six churches – all of which held a special place in his heart. He spent the longest and final part of his journey at LCIF, beginning in 2002. Johnson has celebrated 43 baptisms, led 34 confirmations, mourned 73 deaths and witnessed 19 marriages.
“It’s been an adventure, a real adventure, and I have all [the congregation] to thank for that,” said Johnson. “We’ve had a lot of fun. There’s indeed been a lot of joy. There’s been a lot of sadness, but there’s been a lot of God talk.”
Through his leadership, Johnson’s congregation has reached out to multiple organizations, making an impact in the Los Angeles community by partnering with First Lutheran Church in Inglewood. LCIF has collected coats and mittens for those in need, caroled in Inglewood, and held various events such as the annual talent show. Johnson said he will hold forever these memories of the community and generosity LCIF has exhibited over the years.
The farewell event was catered by local restaurant Los Gringos Locos. Throughout the evening, members of LCIF shared funny stories and touching memories of their pastor. A duo performed Johnson’s favorite hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” one of many songs shared to celebrate the pastor’s service to his church. Of all the speeches given about Johnson, his selfless love and compassion for others was a recurring theme.
The evening concluded with a slideshow that traced Johnson’s ministry followed by a few words from the Johnson who shared his favorite memories and blessings for the church.
“We’re going to go on and we’re going to be strong. God’s not finished with any of us yet,” Johnson said.
For now, LCIF will have an interim pastor, Jim Bullock, a retired pastor, for about eight to 12 months while working through the “call” process to find a replacement.