Richard Carlson: Home with the Lord

Ellen and Dick Carlson

After years of fruitful ministry and a legacy of faithful service, Pastor Dick Carlson (or Pastor Dad, as he was known to Moreno Christian Assembly in Moreno Valley, California) went to be with the Lord Sunday, December 27, at the age of 87.

Dick was born at Sheriff Lake (near McGregor), Minnesota. When he was only three, his family moved to Duluth and started attending the Duluth Gospel Tabernacle—where his future wife, Ellen, was already attending. Before Dick turned 19, he and Ellen were married by Pastor E.C. Erickson, who later became his mentor for ministry.

After serving in the Air Force and as a member of the Air Force band, Dick and Ellen returned to Duluth where they became involved in lay ministries in their home church, and Dick earned a living selling life insurance. They moved briefly to California, spent a year in Seattle at Bible college, and then served briefly as an assistant pastor in California. In 1969 Dick answered a call to serve as assistant pastor at Duluth Gospel Tabernacle, but he soon returned to California at the invitation of Pastor Paul Zettersten to be the pastor of a start-up church in Westminister.

Many unchurched people were saved under Dick’s ministry at Westminster Christian Assembly. Several building programs took place as the church grew. Also growing from the church were missionary outreaches in Honduras and Nicaragua. After a dozen years in Westminster, however, Dick moved to Palm Desert to start Valley Christian Assembly. His faith-filled leadership there led to a growing, vibrant church, and property was soon purchased to build a beautiful church complex.

It wasn’t long, though, before the new church released Dick to begin yet another church, Moreno Christian Assembly. The new congregation purchased a house and converted it into a church with subsequent additions increasing the meeting space. During this season Dick helped plant several other churches—one in Florida, another in Michigan, and he was consulted on other church plants. In 1994, Dick gave oversight to his youth pastor (and son), David Carlson, in planting Hemet Christian Assembly. During this period, Dick and Ellen sent their daughter, Shari, to Indonesia to serve as a missionary for 10 years. Back in Moreno Valley, meanwhile, the growing church began construction on even more sanctuary space, dedicating the new sanctuary and office complex in June, 2000. A year later, Dick retired as senior pastor and was succeeded by his son, David.

Over the years Dick worked with and mentored a number of pastoral assistants, impacting each by his integrity, faith, and pastoral care. His vision of training church leaders influenced him to lead the charge in establishing Southwest Bible College in 2000, where he has served as college president for the past 20 years. Under his leadership the college purchased property where classes are now being held.

FCA Lead Elder, John Sprecher, observes that Dick Carlson was a pioneer who was always looking for the next opportunity. “The Fellowship of Christian Assemblies in Southern California exists today because of his vision and passion,” says Sprecher. He noted that Dick had texted him a number of times during his last days. “His final text to me was sent less than 24 hours before he went to be with the Lord. It summarized his feelings and commitment to our Fellowship: ‘The FCA has always been special to me. There are larger groups, but there are none finer, in my view. I love you all.’”

Dick will be lovingly missed by his wife of 67 years, Ellen. He leaves a wonderful family legacy of 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 22 great grandchildren—all serving the Lord with nine of these families involved in full-time ministries.

A memorial service for Pastor Richard Carlson will be held the afternoon of Sunday, December 27, 2021. Click HERE for more details on how you can watch online. Friends of Dick Carlson may share their memories Ellen on the same webpage:

The Legacy and Impact of Harmon Johnson

Long-time FCA minister, Harmon Alden Johnson, 87, of Brooklyn, NY, passed away on September 28, 2020, in Decatur, GA, due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was born May 22, 1933, in McGregor, Minnesota, to Alma and Arthur Johnson, a Minnesota pastor who later served serve Salem Gospel Tabernacle, an early FCA church in Brooklyn, New York.

Harmon attended North Central University (then North Central Bible College) in Minneapolis and was ordained to the ministry by Lake View Gospel Church in Chicago, Illinois in 1955. He served pastorates in Delavan, Wisconsin, and Montpelier, Vermont. At an interchurch rally in Vermont, he met Carol. They married on October 17, 1959.

Within two years, God opened the door for them to become missionaries to Brazil, where they lived on and off for 15 years. During those years, while earning an MA in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, Harmon served with Paul Zettersten as youth pastor at Immanuel Christian Assembly in Los Angeles and co-authored the book, Latin American Church Growth. An active member of the FCA, Harmon assisted Zettersten with editing Conviction magazine (later Fellowship Today) and served several other Fellowship churches.

After returning full-time from Brazil, Harmon pursued various ministries—as Dean at Salem Bible College in Brooklyn, New York; pastor of Christian Fellowship Church in Bergen County, New Jersey; editor for Edification Ministries, president of NUESTRA in Washington D.C.; Provost of the American University of the Caribbean in Haiti; and Vice President of Beulah Heights Bible College in Atlanta, Georgia. He was also member of the American Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, the American Society of Missiology, the American Society for Church History, and the Society for Pentecostal Studies.

Harmon believed training leaders occurs through discipleship, and he mentored hundreds of church and lay leaders over several decades and continents. He also had a passion for music, however, and conducted orchestras, choirs, and praise and worship teams. He is survived by his wife, Carol Johnson, two brothers, a sister, four children, ten grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

The family hopes to hold a memorial service for Harmon in May of 2021, circumstances permitting.

A Time to Prepare

by Thomas Yerman

Here we are, in a world and nation full of changes, challenges, and controversies. We are being told to do this and don’t do that. We are trying to live a life that is full of uncertainties! Yet in the midst of the storm, we must not forget about the Advent Season we are in.

In the middle of turbulent hurricane winds, there is a place called the eye of the storm were things are calmer. Now is a good time to find that peaceful place. I believe Advent season provides an opportunity for us to do that.

Advent began on November 29 and ends on December 24. It’s a period of time to prepare our hearts before we celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. These four weeks have been given to us to remember, to pray, to meditate, to read Scripture, and to deeply contemplate the true meaning of the birth of Christ.

There ought not be anything that takes superiority over that. For it is Christ who holds all things together.

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

Let us not be distracted by the virus and the politics going on around us. Distractions come to weaken you. It’s a tactic of the enemy to take your focus off of that which will strengthen you and give you hope. You will find things being thrown at you to interfere with achieving the peace you’re seeking. Don’t give up! It is God who has given us Christ that we might be reconciled to him and have peace. A peace only God can give—a peace that transcends all understanding, a peace that will guard your heart and your mind. That peace is found only in Jesus Christ.

So, make every effort to find your place of peace and calm in the eye of the storm, with Jesus. Take time each day to remember the importance of Christ’s birth for your life. Prepare your heart for a joyful Christmas. It’s yours, embrace him like never before. Christmas is coming, and Christ’s coming return is evident. Be alert, aware and blessed!

“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things
that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

Thomas Yerman is an FCA pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.

Pastor Carl Johnson with the Lord

Carl Johnson

Pastor Carl Johnson

Long-time FCA friend and pastor Carl Johnson went to be with the Lord this past Monday, September 21, 2020. He was 69, born on November 2, 1950.

Carl attended Oral Roberts University where he met Diana Stansell from California. They married in 1972. Carl earned a Masters of Divinity degree at Gordon-Conwell in 1974 and a Doctor of Divinity from Kings College in 2008.

Carl moved with his family to New City, New York, in December 1977 to pastor New City Gospel Fellowship (now called Gracepoint Gospel Fellowship). He remained pastor there for over 40 years and was well loved by his congregation.

Carl enjoyed teaching, preaching, mission work, skiing with kids and grandkids, and attending Giants and Yankee games. His time with family and grandkids brought him great joy even as he fought cancer. He will be greatly missed by his family and the church he served so well.

Family will receive friends on Friday evening from 7 – 8:30 pm and Saturday from 9 – 10:30 am at Gracepoint, 384 New Hempstead Rd in New City. Carl’s family will receive friends Friday evening as well as Saturday morning, September 26, at Gracepoint (384 Hempstead Road, New City) from 9 a.m. until the 10:30 service. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Gracepoint with his name. All funds received will be sent to IllumiNations, an organization working to translate the Bible into every language. Carl’s desire was always to spread the message that guided his life and gave him hope.

The service will be livestreamed (10:30 a.m. eastern time) on Facebook at

Carl’s full obituary may be found at:

Prayers for a Post-COVID Church

by Scott Neubauer

In the past five months COVID-19 has shaken the world as we know it—the church world included. During this time, I’ve thought about how God might be using the time we’re in to shake and reshape his church—perhaps even bringing an end to “four-walled” Christianity. Out of that thought process have emerged my points of prayer for a post-COVID church.

1. Less Entertaining, More Equipping.
The major ministry of “the church” is equipping people to “do ministry.” By ministry, I mean ministry outside of Sunday morning. That means less focus on a spiritual show that wows people and more focus on equipping people to actually reach the world they live in Monday through Saturday.

2. Less Spectators, More Ministers.
One of the biggest lies to permeate the modern church is that there’s a small group of guys and gals who do the “ministry” while everyone else just sits back and enjoys. I pray this mentality is coming to a swift end.

3. Less Sunday, More Monday.
If what happens inside the church walls doesn’t change the lives we live outside the church walls, what’s the point? Your job is your pulpit and your colleagues are your congregation. We must move from simply expressing our faith on Sundays to living out our faith on Mondays.

4. More Creativity, Less Passivity.
We live in a world that calls us to constantly consume content. Too many times this mentality has infiltrated the church and we become “church consumers”: consuming worship, a sermon, etc. I believe God has called us to create as well. He is the Creator, and we are made in his image! Let’s not waste our life only consuming.

5. More Prayer, Less Politics.
In some cases that means more prayer, less posting. Our primary job as believers as it relates to our governing authorities is not complaining: it’s praying. Am I praying for them as much as I’m complaining about them? Let’s be careful we’re about our Father’s business and invest our time and energy into the things dear to his heart rather than simply those of our favorite political party.

6. More Passion, Less Profession.
I pray the days we’re living in restore our passion as Christians. Faith without works is useless, but so is profession of our faith without passion for our faith.
Romans 12:10-11 (NLT) tells us, “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”
Church within the four walls has led us to become educated beyond our obedience. We know all the right things, but the passion to put them into practice is lacking.

7. More About People, Less About a Place.
In the Old Testament there was a holy place, but now there’s only a holy people—the holy place is wherever God’s people set their feet. COVID-19 has caused multi-million dollar church buildings to sit nearly empty. It’s moved the body of Christ to think outside the box: holding worship services on rooftops, in parking lots, in neighborhoods, and more. I pray this pushes us as the church at large to rightfully return our focus to the people of God rather than simply a place we gather. The questions we must ask ourselves in every season is: “What is God up to? What good thing does he want to accomplish in me?” I pray we don’t miss our chance to reset as a church and as individuals.

Scott Neubauer, is Lead Pastor at Watershed Church in Elgin, Illinois.