GODSON RETIRES

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By Kim Hurley

Register Freelance Writer

 

Duncombe, IA; Vincent, IA; Ogema, WI; Westboro, WI. To many folks, these are unknown specks on the map. Yet, as a Lutheran minister, Jerome Godson has impacted the lives of many folks in these communities and six others: Hudson, Readlyn, Dysart, Strawberry Point, Volga, Elgin, and Elkader (Highland).

Jerome was accustomed to small towns at a very young age, as he was raised in Poy Sippi, a town in central Wisconsin with a population of 300. He explains that it is an Indian name with “Poy” meaning “pipe” and “Sippi” meaning “river.”

Jerome earned his bachelor of art degree in history from Dana College in Blair, NE. Besides teaching, there weren’t too many professions for a history major. Hence, it was then that he seriously considered becoming a pastor. “Before that, being a pastor was the furthest thing from my mind,” he says. “It had been suggested to me by some members of my home congregation (and, later, by pastors), but I immediately rejected it.” He didn’t share his intention of going into the ministry until after he further explored it by taking a class in Biblical Greek reserved mostly for those headed to seminary. “Then the secret was out!” Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque was where Jerome attended seminary.

Since Jerome went straight from high school into college and then to seminary, he’s had no other occupations besides being a pastor. However, he had several summer jobs that were rather interesting, including being a shearer of Christmas trees and a pickle dipper in a pickle factory. “I don’t know that they influenced my role as pastor,” he admits, “except I didn’t much enjoy the hot physical labor.”

It’s the people who he’s had the privilege to serve that has been the most enjoyable part of ministering for Jerome.  Specifically, he has been inspired by those who are experiencing challenges in their lives.  “I have received much more from them than I have given,” Jerome claims. “They have shown me the indomitable strength God has created in human beings to endure the sufferings of life and not lose faith.” His enjoyment with people goes beyond an individual basis to working with groups to make plans that further the work of the church.

Preaching is the other part of ministry that has captivated Jerome: “I have enjoyed preaching, seeking to connect God’s Word with the world of today so that people can hear the Gospel of God’s steadfast love for God’s people.”  However, this has also been a challenge of knowing just how to interpret God’s Word for people in the modern world. “It is always a challenge to bring the Gospel out of words written thousands of years ago, calling attention to their relevance today.”

Jerome identifies the strife to effect change within congregations as a challenge of ministering. He explains that on any issue—whether it’s the music used or congregational policies proposed—people are reluctant to change.  “We want to be comfortable and the best way to be comfortable is to not change anything,” he states.

Another challenge of the ministry, according to Jerome, is fighting the drop in attendance at Sunday worship and other church events. He believes we are becoming more and more isolated from each other because technology makes it simple for us to stay at home and think we have everything we need. Jerome claims that this evolves into the illusion that we don’t need a congregation: “We have the Internet. Facebook takes care of our social needs without the messiness of human touch. Everything we need can be obtained from the comfort of our own home.”

After 38 years in the ministry, Jerome recently retired, and he and his wife, Jane, have settled in Volga. He already has plans to fill his retirement years. These include sifting through and organizing genealogical materials from his parents as well as letters his parents wrote to each other during WWII when his father was overseas. “Just reading through them will be a time-consuming task,” he predicts.

He also looks forward to doing some traveling with Jane, especially to visit their children. And, of course, he will be doing some volunteering in various places, particularly filling in leading worship and preaching. After all, Jerome Godson has, and will forever, live up to his name: Being a model son of God and leading his fellow man in their faith.

 

 

 

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