This month brought the passing into eternal life of John L. Ellis. In his passing, Mission Northwest lost a faithful Christian brother, leader and friend. During his tenure as an associate executive minister, John served our churches well with responsibilities in church planting, evangelism, camping and mission support in addition to the broad role of Area Minister for Montana, southern Idaho and Utah.

He could have retired sooner but chose to continue to serve our churches and to help us navigate our Regional disagreements until we called a new Executive Minister.

When I joined the region staff in 1997, John mentored me in the technical aspects of Regional ministry. He also counseled me to guard against losing myself personally or spiritually in the challenging, unending, and rewarding work with our churches.

John’s overriding desire was that churches and pastors stay focused on proclaiming the saving love and grace of God in Jesus Christ to lost and broken people. His favorite passage of Scripture was Romans 8:1-2 and 31-39. To the end of his life, he wanted this truth underscored: “We are not saved by our own goodness. We are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Christ’s love for us.”

It will always be a privilege to have worked with John and to have called him friend.


Obituary—John Lucian Ellis

September 22, 1935 – February 3, 2018


Rev. John Lucian Ellis, of Twin Falls, Idaho passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family on February 3, 2018 at the age of 82.

John was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 22, 1935 to parents Ernest L. and Marie C. Ellis. He was the fourth child, joining Mary Elizabeth, Doris, and Ernest (Bill). John married his high school sweetheart, Phyllis Chaney, in Mariemont, Ohio on August 10, 1957. To this marriage were born Ann Elaine, John Bernie, and Nancy Lynn. John and Phyllis enjoyed over 60 years being happily married.

John was preceded in death by his parents, siblings, and his daughter, Ann Ellis-Stone. John is survived by his wife Phyllis, his children Johnny (Robin Ruiz) Ellis, and Nancy (Paul) Bowman. He also leaves his grandchildren Sydney Ellis, Matthew (Jolene) Bowman, and Ryan (Amanda Adamson) Bowman, and his great-grandchildren Abbi, Donovan, and McCauley. John is also survived by his nephew Bob (Jackie) Smith.

John graduated from University of Redlands in 1957, and Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (now American Baptist Seminary of the West), in January 1961. John was ordained as an American Baptist minister at First Baptist Church of Fresno, California on January 21, 1961. He served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Huron, California, First Baptist Church in Exeter, California, Mayhew Community Baptist Church in Rancho Cordova, California, and Thornton Avenue Baptist Church in Fremont, California. He then began serving as Big Sky Area Minister in May 1985, and then as Intermountain Area Minister in January 1993 through December 2003.