Featured Member of the Week: Kendall Reimer-Johnston

Katie Allred

Featured Member of the Week: Kendall Reimer-Johnston

Katie Allred

What’s your name?

Kendall Reimer-Johnston

Where do you serve, what is your title, and how long have you served there?

I am the (now part-time) incumbent priest of three congregations in the Diocese of Huron where I have been a priest for 18 years now. Huron is a mostly rural diocese in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t go to church?

Cat wrangler? More seriously though like most clergy, I officiate at weekly worship services, weddings, funerals, and other special occasions. I visit the sick and lonely and make sure those in our community who have needs for food, shelter, and clothing are provided for. Being the sole pastor I’m also the techie, the secretary, and office manager, budget chief, and the official source for COVID information.

What were some of the things that you experienced that shaped the way you approach your work?

I’ve learned to listen, not just to whoever may be in front of me, but to the community as a whole. What are the struggles and concerns of the community and then ask, how can the church help? When there is a fire and someone loses their home, this church steps up. When someone asks on Facebook why this community doesn’t have a food cupboard, this church stepped up. When someone needs groceries because there’s too much month and not enough money, this church steps up. This approach has led to many opportunities to show the love of Jesus to those outside the church walls.

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your job?

Only one? I wish people understood what an emotional and, sometimes physical toll this job takes, not just on me but also on my family.

What is the one tool for your job that you can’t live without, and why?

These days I’d have to say the Internet. It not only provides the daily tools of a priest (bible, scripture study tools and so on) but it allows me to be connected in a way I could not have before. Pivoting to online worship has me in over 1,000 living rooms a week sharing the Gospel. To some churches, an online audience of 1,000 people isn’t very much but for an in-person congregation of less than 50, this is an outreach far beyond our wildest imagination.

What is the biggest mistake that you see churches making when it comes to communications and marketing?

The biggest mistake I see churches making when it comes to marketing is not marketing. So many times I go to visit another church and I can’t find it and when I do, I have no idea of when the services are or when the office is open. If you don’t let people know you’re here, they won’t come looking. It doesn’t have to be traditional print media. Our church has been a Pokemon gym, we host Canada Day parties, and in one community where I was pastor, we hosted a place for bikers to rest and refresh on the days when over 200,000 motorcycles invade the small village. This year one of my churches put up a giant Christmas tree and invited the village to come and decorate it. Some 1,700 people have put some kind of decoration on that tree. They know where the church is now. Marketing is being open to opportunities to engage with your community any way you can.

Who is someone that you look up to in the church communications world?

I’d have to say it’s the teenagers in my life. I’m 60 years old and frankly, all this tech stuff is new to me. My “studio” is a laptop on my desk in my bedroom and an iPhone for portable use. I keep abreast, through the teens, of what platforms are the latest and where we should place ourselves. I also look to this Facebook group for ideas that can scale down to my three small congregations who don’t always understand the need to reach out and let others know we’re here. Nona Jones from Facebook is a valuable source for navigating the sometimes perplexing world of online ministry.

We truly admire church leaders like you, Fr. Kendall, who are open to growth, wholeheartedly devoted to serving anyone in the community, and really make an effort to find new ways to reach out. You are definitely an inspiration!

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