Pastor at Journey in Faith Church
At Carthage, Allison Johnson ’12 majored in neuroscience and minored in religion, psychology, and biology. She is now the pastor at the Journey in Faith Church located in Franksville, Wis. She leads weekly worship and Bible study, connects with the community, and visits members.
Rev. Johnson was recently elected dean of the South Conference of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, and she serves on the synod’s Candidacy Committee. She continues to make an impact on the Carthage community as a guest speaker for the Center for Faith and Spirituality’s SPIRIT Worship and Interfaith Lunch programs.
“Carthage shaped me to be a curious, thoughtful, and open-minded individual. My experience taught me not only to believe in myself, but also to approach the world with humility, knowing that everyone and everything has something to teach me.”
What have you enjoyed most about your career?
“I really enjoy that my job makes it so I am always learning. The congregation I serve is willing to wrestle with tough faith questions, and they are excited to learn more. I get to be creative with them in my teaching and preaching, which can be really fun at times.”
How did Carthage prepare you?
“Even though I did not pursue neuroscience, many parts of my Carthage experience helped prepare me for my career. Carthage taught me how to think critically, write well, and listen/pay attention to various perspectives. My psychology classes also helped prepare me to work better with people, as I was taught about development, sex/gender, and sociology.”
How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?
“One of the things I am most grateful for is all of the writing I had to do at Carthage. From biology and chemistry lab reports to religion exegetical papers to neuroscience reports, I was constantly writing. The writing skills I gained gave me the advantage in my career today. I write weekly sermons and newsletters. In seminary, I also had to write many academic papers. Additionally, the critical thinking emphasis at a liberal arts college allowed me to be open to various ideas, theologies, and people in seminary.”
Why did you choose Carthage?
“I chose Carthage because it was one of the only schools that had a developed neuroscience program at the time. I was — and still am — fascinated with the brain and how it changes and shapes us over time. I was drawn to the opportunity to do real research and work in a lab.”
What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?
“Professors Dan Miller, Leslie Cameron, and the late Penny Seymoure all played a critical role in my Carthage experience. They all pushed me to engage more deeply with the material, write better, and think critically about the world in which we are a part of. I felt genuinely supported by these professors. They saw potential in me, encouraged me, and provided me with greater opportunities.
“Prof. Cameron went out of her way to invite me to participate in an independent research class with her and a select group of students. I enjoyed spending time with Prof. Seymoure and Prof. Miller when I worked in the neuroscience lab cleaning the rat cages. These professors also engaged with me on a human level.”
What role have the values in Carthage's mission, "Seeking Truth, Building Strength, Inspiring Service — Together" played in your life?
“These values are not only important in my role as a pastor, but they are also important in the way I live my life, especially how the word ‘together’ sums it all up. As a queer person and as a female in a male-dominated career, the value of building strength is central. Not only have I had to rely on strength and resilience, but the value of building up others and allowing others to build me up when necessary is vital to being human. We are always better and stronger when we work together, when we lift up rather than tear down, and when we care for others, especially those on the margins and those who are usually ignored by society.
“I am a firm believer that we need each other and that we too easily forget our connectedness to other humans and the created world. We are not made to go about life alone; we were made for relationship and connection. The value of ‘togetherness’ comes alive in the way I pastor; we build community and hope to create community for others, and we learn about how much God values each and every human and part of life.
“‘Togetherness’ also impacts the way I live my life each day. My relationships with my wife, my friends, my family, my congregation, God, nature, and even my dog remind me of what’s important in life. They sustain me at my core.”