Dennis Bohren retires from Ascension Lutheran

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: LISA K. ANDERSON - Dennis Bohren preached his last message Sunday, June 16, and will conclude his pastoral career at Ascension Lutheran Church in Gresham at the end of June.

After teaching in Colorado, Labrador, Germany, Okinawa, the Philippines and Oregon, Dennis Bohren was at a crossroads in the late 1970s.

He turned to a list of 14 careers he thought he could pursue, with ministry as No. 14.

“After arguing with God that I was too old, couldn’t learn Greek and couldn’t afford it, God opened every door to ministry,” Bohren said.

Almost 30 years later and more than 11 years after joining Ascension Lutheran Church of Gresham as a pastor, Dennis Bohren is retiring June 30.

“His speaking, his organization, his love for people, his love for Christ … the list goes on and on,” said Mike Hadley, a church member. “We’ll miss him at church, but he’s still going to be my navigator for Northwest Vintage Speedsters (a vintage car club).”

Excited but “scared as the dickens,” Bohren and his wife Janette took all their savings and retirement and put Bohren through seminary beginning in 1979. Janette worked up to four jobs at a time and cared for the kids.

Bohren and Janette have three children adopted from Germany, Korea and The Philippines; and five grandchildren.

“The sacrifices they went through,” Bohren said. “I’ve been so very blessed.”

Bohren served at a mission congregation in Iowa for 13 years, originally worshipping in a rollerskating rink, where the congregation jokingly called itself the Holy Rollers.

He worked for five years as a gift planning counselor with the LCMS ( Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) Foundation in Phoenix, Ariz. 

Bohren then came to Concordia University in Portland as a development counselor, arriving at Ascension Lutheran Church in 2002. His wife became the worship coordinator, a role she’ll continue in after Bohren retires.

“There is a huge difference between the Midwest and the Northwest in terms of the receptivity of people to the church and God,” Bohren said. “It’s so much harder to help grow a church here.

“The most rewarding (part of ministry) has been helping people to know with certainty what their eternal future is — it gives people peace just to know it.”

One of Bohren’s favorite aspects of ministry has been mission and service trips, which he’s led across the country and world.

“People come back with a whole different attitude,” Bohren said. “They realize how blessed we are. We have everything we need in this country, and God has blessed us with so many luxuries.

“I have loved the community and ministries.”

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