Ministry Moment: Steve Johnson
October 20, 2019
Read the transcript and listen along.
I was asked to talk a little bit about how I ended up at Trinity. And like [Dean Owens’] Aunt Myrtle, I’m from North Carolina, I was raised a Southern Baptist. That’s a very different experience in terms of the church service and the message that you would hear here.
So when I came to Cleveland, I had never seen snow, and when I got here, it started snowing, and it didn’t stop, and that was in the winter of ’77. For the older heads that know when that happened.
I think about how I ended up at Trinity, I worked at a financial services firm on the West Side, and I remember we had all different types of clients… Now let me actually back up.
I have six children. And I remember coming home one day, and one of my kids said… All the kids were laid out, and Mom is waiting. It was like, “What did they break, and what car did they crash?” It’s all quiet, innocent. She said, Caleb, tell him. So I walk in, my son says, “Dad, I’m gay.” I go, “Okay.” But he was so concerned about my reaction, how I was going to respond because of the churches that I went to. I’m ex-military, I’m a combat veteran, and so I’m pretty strict. I run the house a certain kind of way. And my wife, she’s Irish Catholic, and she had a really tough experience, so she doesn’t really do church. And so I said, “Well, I’m going to love you regardless. I mean, I’ve known for years.” But I wanted to support him.
So a group called PFLAG dropped off some flyers at my company. And so we came over here. Now there are so many doors in Trinity. You could come in one door and leave in another city. I mean, it’s just all over the place. And so I didn’t realize what the place was when I went back to school. I was at Cleveland State, so I worked with the veterans. I helped veterans transition from the military to college. And so, one of the guys said, “Hey, they need some help up with Trinity. You should go to apply. Mechanical, sweeping, buffing, all the stuff of steward. I said, “I could do that.” So I met a lady named Corinne Wallner. We hit it off. Long story short, I end up working here and so on.
A lot of guys, you see me on Sundays, walking around, the bow tie guy and I would watch the services on the screen from the security camera, but I couldn’t hear it. But what impacted me was the love in this building. So like this is not really where I come from. I come from church where it’s loud, drums are beaten, people scream, “Hallelujah! Amen!” when the pastor is rolling. And so, my wife was like, “It’s kind of Catholic-White.” And I’m like, “What is that?” But it was just this energy and this love that was emanating.
And so about two years I watched you people and I said, “There’s something special about this place. There’s something special! As I progress and eventually, with my studies, I couldn’t work anymore. So I was able to come and have a seat, and I couldn’t believe the service. I was like, “They actually use the Old Testament too?” Right. Right. Right. Again, I come from the back as I said, “Wow. I mean, they actually preach here. They talk about the Word, they talk about service,” and this is why I’m here. And so the love that I have received here has really fed me.
But as we talk about prayer, the pastor talked about Psalm 119 Psalm. Well, Psalm 119:105 says, “He’ll be a light unto your path.” And my greatest fear and concern are my six children. They don’t go to church. They’re kind of, you know, they’re really close to their mom. She doesn’t make them because of her experience. Well, that hurts me, but I know that the Bible says you raise a child in the way that they should go and they won’t depart from it when they get old. And I know that I might be the only Christ they ever see. I might be the only witness that they ever see.
So I want to walk in this path. I want to be the testimony that they see that one day that they’ll turn to Him. I have a son that’s deployed. Now, he’s a lot like me, which is what I didn’t want. He’s charming, he’s good looking, he’s smart. And so, he weaseled his way into a unit that was going overseas to fight and he dropped out of school at Ohio State. I’m a combat veteran. And so I realized that they watch you, they watch everything you do. And I’m trying to be that person, that Christ-like figure that will drive them to have a relationship. So he’s overseas. So he got there, and I’m praying against what he’s praying for. I prayed him to Kuwait City, which is safer. He prayed himself up North. And so every day I keep the flyers every Sunday because his name’s in there and we pray, and I’m a fledgling historian, so I collect everything.
But this is how I got to Trinity, and I don’t understand how the service goes sometimes. I love how people reach over the shoulder and point at the right page. Or like this morning, somebody pushed me in the back to step up to communion. I mean, it was a good shove. I don’t know who it was. It might’ve been Bill or Dave, but they keep me moving as I’m learning, which page to go to, and what to do. But what I do know is, there’s love here and that the Spirit of God is here, and this is where I’m at. So, that’s how I got to Trinity.
Trinity Cathedral, October 20, 2019