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Monadnock Profiles: Johan Green is the new pastor at the Temple Congregational Church

  • Johan Green

  • Temple Congregational Church's new pastor, Johan Green of Temple, is looking to grow the church, build outreach and tackle addiction. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Temple Congregational Church's new pastor, Johan Green of Temple, is looking to grow the church, build outreach and tackle addiction. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Temple Congregational Church's new pastor, Johan Green of Temple, is looking to grow the church, build outreach and tackle addiction. Staff photo by Ashley Saari



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, November 23, 2018 11:15AM

In the two months since he officially took up the ministry at the Temple Congregational Church, Pastor Johan Green has started to build up the church membership, with a goal of seeing the pews full by next year.

“We’re seeing a change in the face of the congregation,” Green said. “We’re having more young people.”

Green said his age is probably an attractor for new parishioners – research shows the average congregation is five years younger than its minister – as is his message of inclusiveness.

When Green was approached by the church’s search committee about submitting an application to be their pastor, he had only recently purchased his house in Troy, he said. He prayed over the issue for several weeks, he said, before he felt that God confirmed the need for him to serve in Temple.

“I knew that this was a God thing, and not a man thing,” Green said.

Green is originally from South Africa, and became an ordained minister with Emmanuel Ministries in 2009. Green completed his Doctor of Ministry and Christian Leadership from Nyack Seminary in New York. He is a non-denominational minister and a Christian counselor.

Green said when he took the position, he was aware of a recent rift among the church membership. At the end of 2015 and the early part of 2016, differences between church members resulted in a portion of the church membership being removed as members by the Deaconate, and a resulting lawsuit brought by the ousted members protesting their removal.

That rift hasn’t completely healed, said Green. He was aware of the issue when he took the position, he said. He sees it as an opportunity for all involved to practice what it means to be a Christian.

“We don’t want to focus on the problem, but the solution,” he said. “The definition of grace is to extend goodness, kindness and love to all, even to those that haven’t earned or deserved it, even while being opposed. That’s the Christian way. I’ve never met anyone who can reject being loved.”

Green said the best thing for the church is to look forward, and to take active steps to grow, both spiritually, and the physical membership of the church, which had dwindled to about 29 active members when he took the position.

The church has grown by 11 members since he began preaching there, Green said. Most are attendees of a weekly program Green runs, called “Learn, Love, Hope,” a program that teaches people how to build strong relationships, both with other people and with God.

He’s also started a Friday evening praise and worship service that includes a combination of contemporary worship songs and the church choir with more traditional hymns.

“My goal is to have a choir that sings both hymns and contemporary music, and have people realize they’re not two separate forms of worship,” Green said.

Green said one of his goals for the church will be to outreach into the community, including re-starting a children’s circus group that once used the church as a meeting place, and starting a clothing pantry to complement the food pantry.

Green also has experience as a drug and alcohol counselor. Since taking up his position at the church, he’s already begun one-on-one counseling and assisted residents with accessing treatment, he said. The church begins every Sunday service with a prayer for those struggling with addiction in America.

“I will be driving an awareness campaign of the epidemic the U.S. is facing right now,” he said. “I see the stigma of shame and condemnation these people live under. That’s what we have to change as a church and as a people.”

Green said the church will begin to offer a faith-based recovery program, working with established groups such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, but also offering it’s own program of coping skills and counseling.

“You meet people in their need, that’s what it’s about,” Green said. “You connect at the heart with them, listen to them, and they will be curious of the God that you serve. That is how you reach people.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.