(Riverton, Wyo.) – A 38-year-long career in the ministry came to a close Sunday when Pastor Scott Jorgenson preached his last sermon and bid farewell to the members of St. John’s Lutheran Church. He is retiring from the ministry.
Jorgenson and his wife Cindy arrived in Riverton some four and one-half years ago after spending nine years in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Before that, he ministered in Wisconsin and his home state of Minnesota. His first parish was in a small Minnesota town of 400 souls, a town named Boyd.
“I think the community here is located in a beautiful area, the people are warm and friendly and welcoming,” he said while preparing his final sermon in Riverton late last week. “Because this place is, in a sense, isolated, people don’t take for granted the friends they have around them. People are more committed to friendships here because where else can you go? In that sense, it has been a very welcoming ministry at St. Johns. I’ve enjoyed leading worship and preaching and, of course, visiting folks.”
On retirement, Jorgenson said he had finally reached a point “where I’m at the same age as my congregation. Because of that, I was very comfortable with them and they were comfortable with me. It’s going to be hard to say good bye, but I’m ready to get on to another chapter.”
St. Johns will be without an interim pastor for a time as the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is searching for one to come to Riverton. “But that’s okay. We have good leadership here, we have good people, they will be alright,” Jorgenson said.
One of the challenges that will face St. Johns in the future is one that the church council already has been working on, and that is trying to figure out how to do ministry in a changing world.
“Our council invited the Farmers Market to set up on the church grounds every Wednesday evening and that is introducing our facilities to many. It’s one way to get people to know a little bit about us,” the pastor said, “and it’s been very successful. We’ve also been sponsoring blood drives the past several years and our Pie in July event with the REACH folks was very successful. “But I’m guessing most people came for the pie,” he laughed. “Our council is very good at thinking out of the box.”
St. John's Church Council President Larry Bauman presented the congregation's gift to the couple.
Jorgenson said upon leaving Riverton he’s off to reconnect with three grandkids in Denver, and he and Cindy plan to set up their retirement home in Highlands Ranch outside of Denver. He also said he has immediate plans to visit his wider family in Minnesota and out in Washington DC where his son and daughter-in-law are expecting twins in a couple of weeks. The couple there already has one granddaughter.
“Cindy and I would really like to be there for the birth of the twins,” he said, “in fact we already have our marching orders to help out after the births.
In his final sermon at St. Johns, he preached about goodbyes and how some are harder than others. “This is a hard one,” he said. “But the Lutheran Pastor said no matter where he or the St. John’s Congregation is, “God is with us always. You will continue to grow and reach out into the community.”
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