By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN As Pastor Mike Newsom of Lamson Evangelical Free Church (Dassel) prepares to retire, he is grateful for the relationships that have been built. He is also excited to see what God has planned in the next chapter of his life.
Newsom, who lives in Cokato with his wife Penny, has been pastor at Lamson for three-and-a-half years.
“We are really going to miss the people,” Newsom said. It’s an “unwritten rule” for outgoing pastors to no longer attend the church they pastored in.
The decision to retire was not an easy one, since ministry is ultimately about developing relationships, Newsom said.
First he discussed it with God, then with his family and close friends who are also pastors. He came to only one conclusion.
“I will be 65 in January and find that I do not have the same stamina that I once did,” he said. “Age is not a disease we get healed from.”
“As a solo pastor of a small church, you have a number of duties that go beyond preaching and teaching,” Newsom said.
It takes a lot of emotional energy and time, which has also affected his health, Newsom said, who has had laryngitis for four months and counting.
Newsom and his family began attending Lamson in 1999, where he taught an adult Bible class, a youth Bible study, and also led the church’s youth group.
Following Pastor Ralph Erickson’s resignation, Newsom was voted in as the new pastor of Lamson in 2006.
Before Lamson, Newsom was the pastor for Blessed Hope Church (now in Howard Lake) for 16 years, which he and his wife planted in 1982.
The church was formed in Montrose under the Wright County Christian Fellowship and met at the VFW Hall.
In 1989, the congregation moved to a building in Waverly, where the name was changed to its current usage.
Then, in 1992, the church purchased the former Church of Christ building in Howard Lake.
The congregation currently meets at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School under Pastor Russ Doebler.
“It’s a joy to me to know it’s still in operation and is being well taken care of,” Newsom said.
Blessed Hope was the first church Newsom solo-pastored, he said. This was also the largest work of his ministry.
“Church planting is tough work,” he said.
Before moving out west, Newsom worked for Jesus People Church in downtown Minneapolis, where he helped restore the former State Theater into a church for 2,000 members.
There, he developed and managed a book store, then administered and instructed the church’s Bible institute. Two years later, he founded the Wright County Christian Fellowship in Montrose.
Newsom said his final sermon Sunday and his last official day is Thursday, Dec. 31, when he will participate in a New Year’s Eve party and prayer at Lamson from 8 p.m. to midnight.
In his retirement, he plans to spend a lot of time with his wife, since most of the weekends during their marriage have been spent in ministry.
“After 35 years of virtually not having weekends free, we look forward to being able to visit friends in various churches,” he said.
Newsom is also planning to get a part-time job, visit relatives in England, and maybe get back into art. He used to draw, paint, and do a small amount of wood carving.
“I’ve always been called upon to minister, I didn’t seek it out,” he said. “I assume God wants me to work wherever we go, we will be used. We just don’t know how,” Newsom said.
Becoming a Christian
Like most Christians, Newsom had his own path that would eventually lead him to Christianity.
Though he was raised in a good home, it wasn’t a Christian home, Newsom said.
He was born in Minneapolis, but his family moved to Louisiana, Iowa, and Illinois, before settling in Wisconsin Dells when Newsom was 15.
In 1967, he graduated with a degree in retail marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Newsom worked at a large department store, where he managed several departments.
He decided to get out of the field he was in. In the meantime, he worked a number of odd jobs that made him feel his life was wasting away.
At 27, he moved out of Wisconsin Dells to Minneapolis to get out of that enviroment.
Newsom was looking for more than a materialistic life and began looking into different religions.
He began talking and asking questions of his Christian cousin and her husband.
There was a lot of “intellectual obstacles” to overcome with Christianity, he said.
“I didn’t believe the Bible was the actual Word of God,” he said.
Many of the books he had previously read were against Christianity, he noted.
Then, he began reading the Bible.
“When I was able to receive the Lord, it made an immediate and dramatic change in my life . . . and still is,” Newsom said.
“It was God himself who was leading me, but I was resisting Him all the way,” Newsom said.
Newsom began asking his Christian relatives what he calls “important questions.”
Immediately after asking these important questions, verses Newsom read from the Bible would come to mind, answering the question for him.
When he became a Christian, Newsom found Ephesians 2:12 identified what his condition was before his transformation.
“Without hope and without God in the world,” he said. “That’s what I felt like.”
When he became a Christian, he knew what the Lord had planned for him.
“Once I believed, my life was changed so much that Christ became really all consuming for me,” he said.
“I couldn’t see myself doing anything else,” Newsom added.
He wasn’t planning on becoming a pastor, but like everything (including his past ministries), it just happened, as if the Lord was leading him.
Along the way, Newsom married his wife, Penny, and they had two children, Caroline, 27, and Josiah, 25.