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2/18/2014 11:05:00 AM
Ann Johnson to retire from St. John's Episcopal-Lutheran Church
Ann Johnson stands in the sanctuary at St. Johnís Episcopal-Lutheran Church. Johnson will retire as reverend at the church after the March 2 services. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
Ann Johnson stands in the sanctuary at St. Johnís Episcopal-Lutheran Church. Johnson will retire as reverend at the church after the March 2 services. Marissa Freireich/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


WILLIAMS, Ariz. - After serving as the reverend of St. John's Episcopal-Lutheran Church for more than seven years, Ann Johnson will retire next month.

Her last Sunday at the church is March 2.

Johnson came to St. John's in July of 2006. Before becoming a reverend, she made her career teaching deaf children for 37 years in Texas. Johnson retired from teaching in 2003 and then moved to Flagstaff because her daughter lived there.

"I started going to the Episcopal church in Flagstaff and just felt a call for ministry," she said.

So in 2005, Johnson went to seminary in Austin, Texas for a year. She was ordained the next summer and started at the church in Williams soon after.

"This was my first and only church, and it's been really lovely," she said.

Johnson has several positive memories from her time at the church. One of her favorite parts was organizing the annual Advent Classical Music Series.

"It was for the community of Williams," Johnson said. "It brought people into the church. And it also brought beautiful music."

Another one of Johnson's favorite parts about working at the church was starting a service at the Grand Canyon about six years ago, which now takes place twice a year.

"It's just right on the edge of the abyss," she said. "It's beautiful."

During her time at the church Johnson has also enjoyed working with the local Habitat for Humanity, a Native American youth group in Holbrook, the Williams Rotary Club, and the Greater Williams Community Fund.

During her retirement, Johnson plans to travel and spend time with her family. Johnson's first trip will be to Spain in September where she will walk to the Shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

"It's an ancient pilgrimage that's been done for 1500 years," Johnson said.

While walking the entire pilgrimage route would take about six to eight weeks, Johnson and a friend will walk a portion of the route for two weeks. The two plan to cover about nine to 10 miles a day for a total of about 100 miles.

"I'm trying to do some walks and backpacking and hiking and stuff right now to get myself ready for that," she said.

Johnson will carry her belongings on her back and stay in hostels that communities or churches run at night.

"People come from all over the world to do this (pilgrimage)," she said. "So you meet all sorts of interesting people and have meals together."

Besides her trip to Spain, Johnson is also planning a trip to the holy land next spring.

In addition, with a sixth grandchild due in June, Johnson hopes to spend time in her retirement visiting all of her grandchildren in Colorado, Ohio and Flagstaff.

"I'm looking forward to that a lot," she said.

While her official role at the church is coming to an end, Johnson said she will always be a reverend.

"Once you're ordained you're always a clergy person, but you're just not assigned to a parish after you retire," she said. "So I'll still visit churches and preach and I can still do weddings and baptisms and funerals and that sort of stuff."


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