Pastor Beau Nelson
Pastor Nelson loves God's Word and God's People! He began preaching when he was in 10th grade and ever since then he has been proclaiming the Love of God and the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Compassion, faith, and justice stand out as the hallmarks of Pastor Nelson's life and ministry. Prior to his call to be our pastor, he had been serving as a wandering pastor-evangelist to homeless men and women in Trenton, NJ. Through this challenging, but rewarding ministry Pastor Nelson was able to show forth God's Love by building relationships and listening to the pains and struggles that many of these men and women experienced. Now as a pastor in Jersey City, he brings these gifts to our community and God will no doubt put them to good use!
Pastor Nelson grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota. He went to Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa where he received he Bachelor of Arts degree in religion. From there he went to Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota to earn his Master of Divinity degree.
In 2011 he was assigned to the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and in August was called to Resurrection Lutheran Church, Hamilton Square, NJ. Having been issued his first call he was ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament on Sunday, September 18, 2011. He continued to serve at Resurrection until November 2013 at which time he went on leave from call and moved from Hamilton to Trenton to begin exploring the internal call God was putting on his heart. For the next year he spent time getting to know the city of Trenton and its homeless population. In February, 2015 he was officially appointed by the NJ Synod Council as pastor-evangelist of the Trenton Evangelism Initiative and was charged with the task of engaging this holy experiment with all the gifts that God had given him.
After he went on leave from call, Pastor Nelson began doing pulpit supply all around the NJ Synod. This is how he first visited Bethany and where God began sowing the seeds of our future partnership as pastor and people. In September, 2014 he was appointed by the bishop's office to serve as vice-pastor and stated supply of Bethany. We like to think of this time as the "courtship" phase of our relationship in ministry. Not long after his appointment he was asked several times by members of the bishop's staff if he would be interested in possibly being called to Bethany as their pastor, and each time he declined. Though he loved the people and the ministry that God was doing at and through Bethany, he felt that the ministry in Trenton was where God still wanted him to be. In October of the following year, a devastating event happened that caused Pastor Nelson to rethink his plans. His younger brother Billy had been suffering for quite a while with depression which led him to taking his own life. Upon returning from his brother's funeral, he spoke with Pastor Maristela Freiburg - Director for Evangelical Mission and assistant to the bishop - and told her that the time had come for a fresh start in a new city and that he really had come to see that God had been calling him to Bethany for quite a while, but he was resisting - as often happens when men and women are called by God to a task (e.g. Jonah, Jeremiah, Moses).
In January, 2016 he was nominated by Bishop Tracie Batholomew to be pastor of Bethany. After interviewing Pastor Nelson, the congregation council called for a congregational meeting for the purpose of calling him to become our pastor. And on the afternoon of Sunday, February 21st, the election was held and a unanimous vote was cast for Pastor Nelson. Having accepted the call he began officially serving as our pastor on February 28th (though many had considered him to be our pastor long before this).
On Saturday, April 9, 2016 - in the presence of the congregation, friends and family, the bishop and staff members, community members, and fellow pastors - the Reverend Beau D. Nelson was installed as pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church.
May God bless the partnership between Pastor Nelson and Bethany!