by: Lauren Wilson
On Wednesday evenings at Eugene Faith Center, the atmosphere in the dimly lit sanctuary is peaceful. The voices of the churchgoers combine together to create the sound of a delightful hum. The worship band takes the stage and begins to play an upbeat song, bringing people to their feet. In the front row, clapping his hands and singing along passionately is the pastor, George Boehmer.
Living and leading the Christian life is something that Boehmer hasn’t always practiced. When he was young, he was raised in a Catholic church. “I really hated church. I can’t even tell you how much I hated church. I hated it
with a passion,” Boehmer says. He mentioned that he even volunteered to be an altar boy, so that he would have something to do.
Being a young, sports enthusiast, it was hard for Boehmer to sit still. He even remembers his first prayer, “I was a third grader and I was laying on my bed playing catch with a baseball: ‘God, do not make me a priest, please, I do not want to be a priest’.”
Not only did Boehmer despise church, but he also led a life very different than that of a typical religious person. In middle school and high school he hung out with a rougher crowd. He ventured down a path that, he says, engulfed his life. “I liked it, I was not clean a day when I was in high school,” he says. “The 70s were very much a party time.”
He shakes his head, side-to-side, seemingly ashamed. Boehmer turned his life around when he realized that he still had an inner passion to help those he loved. He says that he could be mean and that he would tease people, but he still loved his friends and family.
Boehmer reflects back on his past and remembers an old friend. He says, “A friend wrote in my yearbook, and I read it years after I graduated. She said, ‘You are one of the weirdest people I know, but you’re also the one person that I would come to if I ever had a problem.’ I just think that is so interesting,” he says. “Even how out of it I was, I wasn’t a Christian, I didn’t want to be a Christian, and I still had a big heart.”
After high school, Boehmer said that he slowly started to open his heart to God. “Somehow He just had mercy on me. I wasn’t searching, I wasn’t reading the Bible, my heart just changed as I grew older,” he says.
Later, Boehmer was accepted to Oregon State University. However he had a change of heart and decided to apply to Eugene Bible College and the University of Oregon. He was accepted to both schools, and decided to attend the University of Oregon and pursue a degree in history.
While attending the University of Oregon, Boehmer split his free time between working at a U.S Bank and involving himself with college ministry. He continued to lead Bible studies for college students for 10 years.
There are several misconceptions about the work of a pastor. Boehmer says that people assume that his job consists of meeting people for coffee, reading the Bible and speaking once a week. Laughing, he says that there is much more to his job than drinking coffee and reading the Bible.
Boehmer says that he is never not a pastor, he seems to always be on the clock, and he is okay with that. He says, “If someone wants to talk and it is late, I make it a point to set up a time with them. There is always a time to help people.”
Julie Langenberg, a co-worker, says, “What I appreciate about George is that although the ‘work’ is so important, it’s people that really matter. He’s a great listener and always takes the time to just sit and listen to someone if that is what is needed.”
Langenberg says that he values the input and creativity of others and that she feels a lot of freedom in the way she get to do her job. She says, “I learn so much from him in the way he leads and pastors, putting people first and understanding how they are best served.”
Even though there can be some challenges, he says his job is very rewarding. Boehmer has had the joy of being involved in many weddings, and meeting several interesting people. “I don’t like bright and shiny, perfect people,” Boehmer says.
Getting a little emotional, Boehmer says, “One guy I know, he physically can’t go into church because of his up bringing. As I met with him, it turns out that he keeps a daily journal. He reads his Bible, he writes stories. I asked him what they were about he said that they were all about redemption. This guy is neat, he has just been wounded.”
He enjoys meeting people that are not confident in their relationship with God, and are skeptical of the idea of “church”. He accepts anyone and loves getting to know a person for who they are.
Between the ups and downs in his life, Boehmer has found steady ground through the Eugene Faith Center. “The value that we have here is that it is OK to be on the journey,” he says. “None of us have it all figured out; we’re all on the way together.”