St. John's/St. Paul parishes welcome new pastor

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St. John's and St. Paul Lutheran Churches welcome Pastor Michael Ashman to their respective faith communities. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Gathering Christians need one another, but more importantly they need ordained ministers to lead the congregation from God’s Word. St. John's Lutheran Church, located at 203 Pearl Sreet, and St. Paul Lutheran Church at 214 South First Street,  in Guttenberg recently welcomed Pastor Michael Ashman to their respective faith communities. 

Pastor Michael Ashman

Pastor Ashman was born and raised on a dairy farm near Seymour, Wis. He was the youngest of four boys born to Elmer and Vera Ashman. "Seymour's claim to fame is the hamburger!" chuckled Pastor Ashman. Legend has it Charlie Nagreen served the world's first hamburger at the Seymour Fair of 1885 when he decided to flatten a meatball and place it between slices of bread to increase portability.

Pastor Ashman currently resides in the church parsonage with his mother, who will soon be 91 years old. "I take care of her and she takes care of me," he fondly shared. "The queen of the household is our 14-year-old cat named 'Puddytatt.'"

Inspiration for his calling

Being raised in a Christian household was a key component to Pastor Ashman's success. "We went to church every Sunday. I credited my maternal grandmother for getting me interested in becoming a minister at a very young age," he noted. "I was further encouraged  in confirmation because Bible studies came easy to me."  

Pastor Ashman takes encouragement of others very seriously. He said, "One of the promises we make during our installation service is to encourage others to work in ministry. Sometimes it is not evident to individuals because nobody else has mentioned it to them." He gave an example, "I know a young lady who is in seminary right now. I wish someone would have sat her down and encouraged her thirty years ago. Unfortunately, at that time a woman in ministry was not seen as a popular concept."

Education and service

Pastor Ashman attended Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., following high school graduation. "I took preparatory classes to become a pastor and earned a four-year degree. Unfortunately there is not much else you can do with it," he said with a smile. "I earned my Master of Divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. I completed an internship at two rural churches in Almira and Wilbur, Wash., and returned to seminary for one more year to complete the five-year degree." 

Pastor Ashman was ordained in 1993 and throughout his career served churches in Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. "I took a few years off to take care of my family. My father died of colon cancer in 2004. I worked at a restaurant during that time until the Bishop encouraged me back into ministry."

Pastor Ashman's hobbies include reading academic materials, cooking and attending youth sporting events. He said, "I enjoy attending youth sporting events. It gets me out into the community and gives me an opportunity to meet with families outside of the church." He enthusiastically shared, "My mother and I enjoying cooking and baking together. We love to make home-made cinnamon rolls, pies and cookies. Church bake sales and soup suppers are our specialty." 

Serving  St. John's / St. Paul

Pastor Ashman commented, "I look forward to working with church youth. I want to inspire them to learn more than just scriptural facts, but encourage them to utilize their faith in daily life – to see God as active in their world."

A new assignment creates new challenges. "We were always taught the most important thing is to listen to your parishioners," he noted. "Due to safety and health concerns brought on by COVID-19, meeting face-to-face is not an option. I am calling on parishioners over the phone, but look forward to meeting one another in our homes." 

Pastor Ashman is excited to be part of such a charitable congregation. "St. John's and St. Paul Church has a long history of giving back to the community. The Thanksgiving Day dinner, monthly food distribution to community members facing food insecurity, AA and Al-Anon meeting site, and Stephen Ministry program are all important outreach programs," he shared with admiration. 

"I look forward to building the faith communities at St. John's and St. Paul Churches. Faith is not something that should be contained inside four walls. I hope to inspire my congregations to take their ministry outside the church, with open joy, reaching out to the whole community," he concluded.

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