It had to be more than a coincidence, Craig Nelson said. It was more like a sign.
Shortly before he interviewed to become the pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Lee, Nelson said he was studying
Revelation 2:17 in the Bible.
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the
hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives
it,” Nelson read during an interview on Monday morning.
As a pastor he said he studies the Bible routinely, so there was nothing that stood out to him as unusual or unique about
this passage. At least at that time, he said.
But when he visited the church at 19 Perry Road and saw the white walls, he said he began to think that maybe there was
more to this verse.
“We took pictures of the church when we came for a visit,” he said. “And the walls were just glistening. And that verse just
stuck with me.”
“We felt like we were called here,” Nelson said, referring to himself and his family.
And church officials said they felt the same. Out of a dozen candidates and six months of searching, Nelson will join Calvary
Lutheran Church officially on Nov. 28 after he is installed during a ceremony at 2 p.m. The service will be followed by a
“We had a dozen applicants and we just kept narrowing it down,” said Bob Johns, the president of the committee tasked
with finding a new pastor. “We are excited about having a pastor finally ... one who is a Bible-preaching word-of-God type of
About a year ago, Calvary Lutheran Church left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, an association of Lutheran
congregations, to join the Lutheran Congregation in Mission for Christ.
The LCMC is focused on starting congregations in this country, supporting missionaries around the world, and raising up
and training leaders to serve Christ and his church, according the LCMC!s website.
The association was formed 10 years ago and has about 500 members from the U.S. and has several congregations in 10
countries from around the world, according to its website.
“We believe the word of the Bible and you can!t change what the Bible says,” Johns said. And similar to other churches,
leaving the ELCA meant the congregation would have to find a new pastor who, “fit the bill,” he said.
Johns said Nelson!s unique background fit what the church was looking for.
Nelson was born and raised in Japan by his parents who were missionaries following World War II. He said he lived there
until he was 18.
He also spent time in Hong Kong as a missionary helping to establish Lutheran churches and most recently was the senior
pastor at the Calvary Lutheran Church in Minong, Wis., where he also helped serve several LCMC churches before leaving.
“I was born to missionary parents and I actually learned Japanese before I learned English,” he said. “When I came to the
United States, my grandfather told my parents, "You better teach this kid some English.!”
Dennis Johnson, board president for the church, said it was more than just his background that gave Nelson an edge.
“He is multi-talented with generations,” Johnson said. “He is good at bridging the gap between the different generations that
attend our church.”
Johnson said he thought Nelson does not treat being a pastor as just a job. Serving the church is his life and he!s
passionate about helping to make this congregation stronger, he said.
“He definitely has the spirit of the Lord,” Johnson said. “He works hard, but he also sees the excitement in life as well.”
Having been at the church for about two weeks now, Nelson and his wife, Barb, said they couldn!t be happier with the
decision they made.
“When we arrived the first night, the parking lot was lined with people waiting to help us move in,” Barb Nelson said. “The
people here have just been so kind.”
Craig Nelson said his goal is to continue to improve the already-strong mission outreach program and he would like to work
with the congregation to put together future mission trips.
“The people here are
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