Rev. Scott Johnson Elected Bishop for Nebraska Synod of the ELCA
Rev. Scott Johnson, Midland University Director of Campus Ministries, was elected as the new Bishop for the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America during their Synod’s Assembly on June 2-4 in Kearney, Nebraska. Johnson will continue serving as Director of Campus Ministries this summer before assuming his new role as Bishop on Sept. 1st.
“It’s a role I wasn’t sure I would ever have the opportunity to serve in,” Johnson said. “It’s still a little overwhelming, but I’m honored that people felt like I could be part of that conversation.”
Johnson was elected to a six-year term as bishop, succeeding Bishop Brian Maas, who served in that capacity for ten years and will be taking on a new endeavor as Vice President for Mission and Spiritual Care at Immanuel Communities in Omaha.
“Rev. Johnson brings an enthusiasm and a passion for the church that will serve the synod well,” Bishop Maas said. “Scott has a love for Nebraska and the Nebraska Synod. He has experience in the congregation and is aware of the importance of ministries of the larger church, experience that will serve him well. I look forward to working with him on the transition into his ministry as our bishop.”
The process for Johnson’s election began in February when he was nominated for the position and was one of nine pre-identified candidates on the ballot at the assembly. Candidates were also nominated from the floor during the first ballot, known as an “ecclesiastical” ballot. After the first three ballots, the candidate pool was narrowed to three. Another candidate was eliminated in the fourth round of ballots, and Johnson was elected on the fifth ballot. “When I was first nominated, I decided to go forward in the process because I wanted to see if the church felt like I was someone who might be needed in this role,” Johnson said. “My campus pastor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was nominated for bishop. I remember him telling me it was important to go forward because you never know where you might be called to serve in the church. I was surprised but honored that people felt like I had the ability to serve in this role.”
As Bishop for the Nebraska Synod, Johnson will support and oversee all ELCA churches and other ministries in Nebraska. “It basically means I will be serving as the pastor for the entire synod,” he said. “I will work with other churches to help them find pastors and serve them in any way I can. One thing I am really excited about is getting to visit other parts of the state. I will have the opportunity to visit and speak to other congregations, and I cannot wait to travel to connect with new people.”
Midland University President Jody Horner thanked Johnson for his time at Midland. “We thank Rev. Johnson for his service to Midland University and to our students,” she said. “As a serving arm of the Nebraska Synod, all of us at Midland wish Scott much success in his new role, and we look forward to working with him as part of the Lutheran Giving organization.”
A native of Wakefield, Nebraska, Johnson served as pastor at St. Petri Lutheran Church in Story City, Iowa for seven years before arriving at Midland in the fall of 2019. He earned his BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and completed his Master of Divinity Degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He also spent time as a pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in Barrett, Minnesota, and was pastor of Lutheran Campus Ministry at Iowa State University in Ames. His wife, Kristin, is a Deacon in the ELCA. They have two daughters.
With every new opportunity comes leaving another one behind, and while Johnson is excited to get started in his new role, he will miss the relationships he has built in his time at Midland. “It’s very bittersweet for me because I really enjoy Midland and the people I’ve worked with,” he said. “Being here is one of the reasons I enjoy campus ministry so much, and this opportunity brought me back to Nebraska. I hope that I can hang my hat on helping Midland and the church continue to build strong bonds.”