Pastor Phillip Olson to retire
Wed, 07/12/2017 - 1:12pm admin
Calmar - After 41 years of ministry, Pastor Phillip Olson is retiring. His last Sunday will be July 16, 2017, at Calmar Lutheran and Springfield Lutheran Churches, where he has served for the past five years.
A noon luncheon will be held on July 16 in Pastor Olson’s honor at Calmar Lutheran, followed by an open house from 1-3 p.m., with a program at 1:30 p.m., featuring a performance by the Luren Singers, of which Pastor Olson is a member. The community is welcome and invited to participate in this celebration!
Pastor Phillip Olson attended Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, where he met Virginia (Ginny) Johnson, a fellow student. They were married in December 1974. After graduating from Wartburg Seminary, Pastor Phillip was ordained as a Lutheran pastor in 1976. His first congregations were Immanuel Lutheran, Earlville and Immanuel Lutheran, Delaware, Iowa, where he served for two years (1976-1978). Their oldest child, Ana, was born during this time.
The Olsons felt called to missionary work overseas, and were called by the American Lutheran Church (a predecessor body to the current ELCA) as long-term missionaries. The couple enrolled in intensive French language study in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France, for eight months.
Their second child, Martha, was born during their studies in France.
Phillip and Ginny and their two young daughters moved to Saint-Louis, Senegal, in West Africa, in 1978. The intention was to be the first permanent missionary couple there on behalf of the American Lutheran Church. But it was not to be.
After several months, it became clear their oldest child could not live in the harsh climate, and they made the decision to return to the United States.
Pastor Phillip was called to serve Union State Line Lutheran, Petersburg, Minn., and Palestine Lutheran, rural Dolliver, Iowa, in 1979. During their eight years (1979-1987) in southwestern Minnesota, the family grew, as three more children were born: Maryn, Andrew and Amy.
In 1987, the Olson family moved to rural Ridgeway, Iowa, where Pastor Phillip had accepted a call from the Ridgeway Lutheran Parish, composed of Peace, Madison and Orleans Lutheran Churches. Ginny joined Phillip in ministry, first as an Associate in Ministry and then as co-pastor when she was ordained in 1999. Together, the Olsons served the Ridgeway Lutheran Parish for 23 years (1987-2010).
After leaving Ridgeway, Pastor Phillip served as an intentional interim pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Waverly, Iowa, from November 2010-January 2012. He returned to northeastern Iowa to serve as an intentional interim pastor for Calmar and Springfield Lutheran Churches beginning in April 2012.
During these past five years, Pastor Phillip drew on his years of ministry to lead the members of the congregations into a deeper knowledge of the Biblical story, as well as to proclaim in sermons, conversations and other settings the overwhelming grace of God in Jesus.
Pastor Phillip loves preaching and always draws energy from the congregations. He shared, “A highlight of the past 41 years was the opportunity to teach and confirm two mentally challenged adults so that they could come to the Lord’s Table along with the rest of their families and the congregation.” One specific thing he will miss is the opportunity to baptize.
When asked what preparations he has made for retirement, Pastor Phillip replied, “I have a long list of books to read and seven grandchildren to enjoy. I have been gathering Lionel train equipment for a great model train layout. We also recently purchased a church building that we are having renovated into a retirement home, and there will be plenty to do with that project.”
Since Pastor Ginny continues to serve St. Peter Lutheran Church in Eldorado, Iowa, the Olsons will continue to reside in Eldorado.
Pastors Phillip and Ginny delight in their family, Ana Olson-Johnson and Matthew Johnson, and children Rachel (7) and Aaron (1), of rural Decorah; Martha and Tony Jensen, and children Aurora (6) and Aleia (3), of Greenville, Wis.; Maryn, of St. Louis, Mo.; Drs. Andrew and Janelle Olson, and children Noelle (5), Sofia (3) and Solveig (4 months), of Roseville, Minn.; and Amy, of Des Moines, Iowa.
Submitted by Maryn Olson