Pastor Gene Carlson is a full-time minister for the Living Water Fellowship church on Highway 53 in Rathdrum.
He was born just five miles from the Vineland Indian Reservation in Minnesota. As a young man he served in the Army as an engineer. In 1960 he took a trip to Sandpoint to visit his brother and met his future wife, Jewel. They married a year later and he spent the next four years working as a smelter worker at Bunker Hill in Kellogg.
He served as a lay minister in various churches until a congregation formed for the Living Water Fellowship Church. He was ordained in 1988. Today, among his many duties, he helps his parishioners support a mission to the Ojibiway and Chippewa Indians on the Vineland Indian Reservation in Minnesota, five miles from where he grew up.
What is your hometown? “Onamia, Minnesota”
What town do you live in now? “Athol, since 1965”
What job do you do? “I am the minister of the Living Water Fellowship Church in Rathdrum.”
How long have you been doing this job? “I have been ministering 32 years; 20 as an ordained minister for the Living Waters Fellowship Church. I joined their congregation as a lay minister when the congregation formed in 1983 and received my ordination as a minister in their church five years later.”
What do you like the least about this job? “When I watch television and see needy people in other parts of the world that I cannot help. I feel sad that I am unable to reach out to them.”
What do you like the most about this job? “I enjoy seeing the friendship and love that is growing among the members of this congregation.”
Tell us a funny/unusual or sad story that happened on the job. “Walking down Sherman Avenue one day I was wearing a T-shirt that reads:
‘I promise not to sleep in church, especially during the sermon.
I will read my Bible and say my prayers.
I promise not to sing off key and always arrive on time.
I promise not to complain when the basket is passed around.
I will never chew gum in church or sneak our early … because I am the minister.
I AM THE MINISTER.’
“A woman stopped me and asked? ‘Sir, Are you really a minister?’ I replied, Yes I am. To which she asked, ‘Of what church?’ I had a total senior moment as I stood there looking at her thinking, I really do know the answer to her question.
“When I think about how I just stood there staring at her I have to laugh at myself, because the answer simply wasn’t there. I had a total senior moment.”
What is your dream job? “As minister of the Living Water Fellowship church I’m living my dream job now.”
If your life were made into a movie, whom would you want to play you? “Arnold Schwarzenegger. I can really appreciate the work he did as an actor … But he is younger and taller than I am.”