Pastor John Cedar was pastor for Howard Lake church in the ‘60s
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN In the five weeks John Cedar has served as interim pastor at Lamson Evangelical Free Church in Dassel, he and his wife, Dian have been warmly received throughout the community.
Cedar officially began his interim ministry at Lamson Jan. 15. Before moving to Dassel, he and his wife lived in Andover, but he has had a connection to the area since childhood.
“This is home territory,” Cedar said, who lived in Howard Lake from 1945 to 1948.
Growing up, his father, CB Cedar, served at First Presbyterian Church in Howard Lake. John later pastored in the same church from 1964 to 1967.
Cedar still knows a lot of people in the area because of his connections, he said.
In fact, Cedar’s great uncle, David Becker, served at Lamson from 1927 to 1935. Becker’s son, Reuben, is still a member.
Cedar has been in the ministry more than 40 years and has served in St. Paul, Duluth, Howard Lake, and West Fargo, ND; and also spent 20 years in California, before moving back to his home state in 2003.
For the past seven years, Cedar has been exclusively interim pastoring. Being retirement age, he chose not to serve as a full-time pastor.
Being an interim pastor means not knowing exactly how long they will be in a particular congregation, but Cedar expects to be at Lamson for about a year or more, he said.
Being an interim pastor is a unique ministry, he said.
“[Interim pastors] try to ascertain what the circumstances are in the church at the time. They then try to come up with a plan for the congregation to move into the future with enthusiasm. [We] also try to prepare the field for the full-time pastor, who will be called when your time is up,” Cedar said.
He knows first-hand what it’s like to be called by God.
With a father, grandfather, and uncle in the pastoral ministry, Cedar wanted a different life for himself.
His plans following high school included working in an apprenticeship position while going to college in the mortuary science program at the University of Minnesota.
God, however, had other plans for him.
As a senior, Cedar survived two head-on collisions within two months.
That got him thinking more seriously about the plans for his life.
“I felt God calling, but I didn’t want to listen,” Cedar said.
Having grown up as a pastor’s son, Cedar knew the profession wasn’t an easy one.
“I wanted a better station in life than most pastors,” he said.
“But I’ve never regretted God changing my mind,” he added.
While in the hospital from his second accident, he recalls telling his dad, “I want you to pre-enroll me in the seminary at Bethel so I don’t change my mind again.”
What Cedar has enjoyed most about his God-chosen profession is working with people of all ages.
“I think God has given me a gift to relate with people of all ages, from the little children to senior adults, which I now am,” he said.
“It’s a ministry of healing, helping, and encouraging,” Cedar added.
Also during his years in active ministry, Ceder served 15 years as a hospice chaplain.
Though this can be a tough ministry, Cedar found it to be a wonderful time to minister to people because they are so open when nearing death, he said.
He has also been a hospital, police and fire chaplain.
Throughout his ministry, Cedar has had a lot of background working with people in many circumstances.
“It’s most rewarding just being able to relate to people in their time of need,” he said.