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With a career spanning nearly 30 years involving six churches and a period of practicing clown ministry, one pastor is embarking on a new journey in Sharon Center.
The Rev. Anita Johnson recently began work as head pastor at Sharon Center United Methodist Church, delivering her first sermon July 7.
In her first week with the church, she said that staff and members of the congregation have “all been very welcoming and kind.”
Johnson is from Ruthven — a small town of about 700 people in northwest Iowa.
She attended South Dakota State University, where she graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in child development and family relations.
Soon after graduation, she was on her way to seminary — a choice she wasn’t entirely sure about at the time.
Ordained in 1990, she began her long journey in preaching. She spent time with six churches across the state before arriving at Sharon Center United Methodist.
There, she will live on a parsonage on the church grounds. Although the scenery will be a change of pace, she will not be moving far.
Johnson currently lives in Iowa City with her husband, two sons and two cats, while they work to sell their house. She worked as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church of Iowa City.
This will be her first time serving as sole pastor for a church. It is a new experience for Johnson — one she is eager to have, as it will allow her to have a role in all parts of ministry and worship, not just those designated for an associate pastor.
As for her office, it is a work in progress. Unpacked boxes, books, a vase of flowers and a small collection of brightly colored stuffed birds adorn her office.
At one point, she had an abundance of clown-themed memorabilia — a tribute to her time doing clown ministry. The practice involved dressing as a clown and ministering to children and nursing homes through the use of humor and skits.
Johnson has since retired from clown ministry and now decorates her office with her collection of dozens of books.
In addition to reading, she enjoys running, gardening, biking and music.
Johnson said that although she is still settling in, she is eager to get to know and become a part of the community.