The Faith of Reverend Ellen Rasmussen

53018efa809c8.preview-620Reverend Ellen Rasmussen is a strong advocate for social justice and it comes from her strong faith in Jesus Christ. Rasmussen is the pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in La Crosse, but she did always believe in God.

Rasmussen grew up as the daughter of a Navy officer and would attend church each Sunday wherever he was stationed. When she was eight they settled in Wisconsin, but her mother couldn’t find a church that suited her. As Rasmussen went through school she was surprised by the hypocrisy of churchgoers who treated others poorly. This prompted her to doubt the existence of God.

Things began to change in 1996 when a hospital chaplain in Tennessee began ministering to her. At the time she met Rev. Jim Ellis her father had passed and her mother was hospitalized after being diagnosed with a fatal illness. Rasmussen recognized that the chaplain reached out to her because, “I was in the denial phase…I said a lot of things some would consider blasphemous.” At the same time that her mother was sick, Rasmussen was going through a divorce and still grieving for her father. Despite experiencing her lowest low, Ellis comforted her by saying, “there is this aura about you, and in a very short time you will have a conversion experience and it will be glorious.”

Rasmussen’s conversion did come, suddenly, while she was attending a convention in Dallas. All of the sudden she felt God’s love and new he was her friend “without a shadow of a doubt and with every cell of my being.” From that point, Rasmussen quickly read the Bible and other texts and began teaching Sunday school. In 2007 she received her master’s degree in divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern. She soon became a minister and quickly developed a reputation for helping the poor and disenfranchised. Rasmussen continues to uphold that reputation with actions like opening Wesley’s doors as a shelter for the homeless in brutally cold weather.

Rasmussen has a strong sense of justice and she feels so blessed to be able to help those in need in her community. Her struggle to find faith has helped her lead others who are unsure of how to love God. She admits that she “never imagined that this is what I’d be doing with my life, and now I can’t imagine not doing it.”