Rev. Justin Erik Johnson

November 26, 1979 ~ September 4, 2021 (age 41)


Rev. Justin E. Johnson, 41, died of a heart attack on September 4, 2021 in Hazen, ND. Services will be held at 11:00 A.M on Friday September 10, 2021, at Zion Lutheran Church in Beulah, ND, with Bishop Craig Schweitzer officiating and Rev. Dennis Ristvedt preaching. A private family burial will take place in Park River, ND. Visitation will be from 4:00 to 7:00 PM, Wednesday September 8, 2021 at English Lutheran Church, with a prayer service beginning at 7:00 PM.

Out of respect for Pastor Justin’s beliefs and his family, masks are strongly recommended.


Justin was born in Minot, ND on November 26, 1979, the middle child of three children of Rev. Erik and Kathryn (Aslakson) Johnson. He was first welcomed as a beloved child of God through baptism on January 20, 1980 at Concordia Lutheran in Benedict, ND.  Justin’s family moved from Benedict to Aneta, ND in 1982, because his dad accepted a new call to the church in town.  In 1987 he moved with his parents, big sister and brother to Edmore, ND.  Justin affirmed his faith at Concordia Lutheran Church in Edmore, ND on May 13, 1995. Justin graduated from Edmore Public School in 1998. He attended Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, where he was one of a few male elementary education majors. He received a scholarship to play football, he jokingly would say that he “practiced football,” as he didn’t see much playing time. He decided to be a counselor at Park River Bible Camp, near Park River, ND. This is where he met his wife, Melissa. He returned to Concordia the following September and began to feel a change of calling from writing lesson plans and laughing with elementary students to the calling of using every bit of that major to discern a call to parish ministry. He graduated from Concordia College in 2002. He proposed to Melissa at the end of a very long Sunday staff-meeting, which took SO MUCH confidence to do! She excitedly agreed, and they were married at Park River Bible Camp on June 1, 2002. They loaded all their wedding gifts into one pickup load and headed to Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. They ventured to the Pacific Northwest for a year of internship in Mount Vernon, Washington. This started their adventure and love of the Pacific Northwest. He received his Master of Divinity in May 2006 and was ordained into parish ministry at his home church in Edmore, ND. Justin and Melissa accepted a call to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Bellingham, Washington. As a born and raised North Dakota kid who was used to flat land and lots of wind, he fell in love with the ocean and felt so blessed that he was called to that place. He completed four years of faithful ministry and discerned a call to Prince of Peace Lutheran in Spokane, Washington. While away from the beauty of the ocean and the church that became family, Spokane held many new challenges and adventures. Justin found out he was going to be a new dad, just one week prior to leaving Bellingham. The congregation welcomed him and Melissa, and soon their first daughter Audrey in 2011. In 2014 his second daughter Camille was born. He was next overjoyed to learn in 2016 that he was going to be a father again, a son Laurel Robert Johnson was stillborn on April 13, 2016. After six years of service in Spokane, Washington Pastor Justin and “his girls” accepted a call to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Ontario, Oregon. While serving the people of the Treasure Valley Justin and Melissa welcomed their daughter Cecily. After serving two years in Ontario, they accepted a call to English Lutheran Church in Hazen, North Dakota. After arriving with all “his girls” in tow, he promptly got to work teaching them all about living in a small Midwest town. Being a pastor and doing his share of funerals in ministry, he said that he wanted the hobby section of his obituary left blank, except to say that he loved having tea-parties, letting his girls paint his fingernails and teaching them all about any sport, but took joy in watching Seahawk's games and hollering at the screen with his girls! He will be remembered fondly for his dry sense of humor, quick wit and his crazy sock collection.

He is survived by his wife, Melissa and daughters Audrey, Camille and Cecily at home in Hazen, parents, Rev. Erik and Kathryn (Aslakson) Johnson, and sister, Gracia Johnson all of Bismarck; and a brother, Karsten and sister-in-law Jamey of West Fargo, ND; Father-in Law, Marco Eklund of Gold Canyon, Arizona; Mother-in-law, Tami Leith of Mesa, Arizona; Brother-in-law, Calvin Eklund (fiancé Kim) and Blake; Brother-in-law, Riley Eklund (Monica); nephew, Lukas and niece, Jaxyn; as well as numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and parishioners who became as close as family. He is preceded in death by his son, Laurel; his paternal grandparents, Rev. Laurel and Camilla Johnson; maternal grandparents, Richard and Geraldine Aslakson.


It was Justin’s quiet yet firm request that in lieu of flowers and plants that those who wish to offer something in remembrance of him that you would please consider giving to an organization that benefits something with the life and energy of children, be it camp scholarship, school lunch debt or sports league.


Please thoughtfully consider:


Camp of the Cross (near Hazen parish)

PO Box 1257

Garrison, ND 58540


Park River Bible Camp (Camp where Justin met Melissa)

106 Solid Rock Circle

Park River, ND 58270


Camp Lutherwood (Bellingham parish)

1185 Roy Rd.

Bellingham, WA 98229


Camp Lutherhaven (Spokane parish)

3258 W. Lutherhaven Rd.

Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814


Luther Heights Bible Camp (Ontario, Oregon parish)

HC 64 Box 9381

Ketchum, ID 83340

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Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for Rev. Justin

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September 8, 2021

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
English Lutheran Church
146 Main St. W.
Hazen, ND 58545

Funeral Service
September 10, 2021

11:00 AM
Zion Lutheran Church (Beulah, ND)

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