Lutheran vicar becomes pastor
Lutheran churches in Marion and Hillsboro have a full-time pastor after vicar John Werner was recently ordained at ceremony June 10 at Zion Lutheran Church in Hillsboro.
“It was physically, mentally, and spiritually overwhelming,” Werner said. “It feels slightly surreal but I was very thankful to have all my family and so many church members around me.”
Werner has been serving Zion and Our Savior Lutheran Church in Marion for the past year.
He called his ordination the “seventh best” event in his life.
“The first was being baptized, the second getting married, and the others were the births of my four children,” Werner said. “Pastors are still husbands and fathers first.”
With a fifth baby on the way, his ordination will likely move down to the eighth.
Werner will take on full pastoral duties at both churches including officiating weddings, baptisms, hearing private confessions, and providing absolutions that Pastor Clark Davis of Tampa used to do while Werner was a vicar.
“Both are small congregations but they’re still God’s people,” Werner said. “Sometimes it is a challenge to treat them as one group, but also at individual congregations.”
The past year as a vicar was one of the last steps in his seminary studies, which Werner said is not very common in the Lutheran church.
“It was like on-the-job training or like what a student teacher does, only it was part of my four-year seminary school education,” he said. “I am now the absolution man. I’m excited to be able to pass on Christ’s gift.”
Davis was his vicarage supervisor. He also performed Werner’s ordination.
“I am very happy for him, and I was very pleased to be the one who did that for him,” Davis said. “He did a fantastic job. He is very mature, and dedicated to the pastoral ministry.”
Jane Johnson, a congregation member at Our Savior, said she was glad the churches have a full-time pastor.
“We were so pleased that he agreed to come here for his vicarage,” Johnson said, “and now that his vicarage is over, we are happy and relieved that he has agreed to stay on as our pastor.”