Ascension Lutheran Church is a very welcoming congregation of about 150 attending members. We have Bible Study for Adults on Sunday at 9:00 AM and Sunday School for Youth during the 10:30 AM traditional worship service. Regardless if you are a life-long Lutheran who has missed a few Sundays, or if you are a Christian from another church looking for a different light on the Gospel, you are welcome in this place!
Whether you are a young family, a retiree, or a single looking for a new Church experience, our church invites you to join us as we study the Bible and learn about God in our life. We offer programs for all age groups.
INTRODUCING PASTOR HOWARD NIELSEN
Since moving to Florida following my retirement from full time parish ministry in 1998, I have served as a part-time Interim Transitional Pastor for congregations in Orange City, Orlando, Lakeland(2), Port Richey, Weeki Wachee, Groveland and Tampa(2). I have also served congregations on a short term basis in Winter Park, Sanford, Longwood, Leesburg, Mount Dora and Avon Park.
I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota but grew up in Pasadena, California where I studied engineering. I was employed as an electrical and mechanical draftsman mainly in Research and Development working on several state-of-the-art military and civilian projects.
I served in the Army from 1958-1960 including six months teaching drafting to Iranian soldiers in Tehran, Iran. It was in Iran that I met my wife to be, a short-term Presbyterian missionary from Ohio teaching in The Community High School in Tehran. Our separate travels in the Army and on mission assignment included England, Germany, Israel, Lebanon, Italy, Greece and Egypt. We were married upon returning to the States on September 9, 1960.
Responding to the Call to enter the ministry, I switched majors and finished college and earned a degree from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota in 1962. I entered seminary and graduated cum laude from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California in 1967. During my seminary years I worked part time as an engineering draftsman for Bay Area companies including one that designed computers for the Apollo space program.
For 31 years I served parishes in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. I was Senior Pastor of St. Martins Lutheran Church in Marine City, Michigan for 23 years with a staff that included an Associate Pastor, music director, and several volunteers. While in Marine City, I participated in improving ecumenical relations between local congregations as well as developing an international parish exchange program with a pastor in Germany. With a neighboring ELCA pastor we organized the first husband-wife internship program in the ELCA. Over the years I partnered with Trinity Seminary in supervising seven seminary interns who went on to be pastors in the ELCA; several have served as assistants to Synod Bishops. We keep in contact with them and enjoy hearing about their ministries.
During my parish ministry, my wife and I led congregational trips to Germany, Australia, and New Zealand and participated in an Augsburg College seminar in Guatemala and Nicaragua.
In the early 1990’s I was a ministry consultant to the Disney Development Company as they planned the new town of Celebration. With support from the ELCA, I chaired (for two years) an ecumenical taskforce that made recommendations to Disney on how congregations are started in a new community. Disney asked the probing question, “How does the presence of a congregation help build community?” I have, in turn, asked the members of every congregation I have served the same question, as it is important to think about how we relate to the community in which we live. A few years ago I led a class at the Celebration campus of Stetson University on “Building Community.”
For the past 15 years I have enjoyed working two days a week as a Research Specialist at Walt Disney World interviewing guests. I get to meet and talk to people from all over the world. As a Disney cast member, I also sing in the Candlelight Processional at Epcot each Christmas season. This past Christmas was my 15th year in the cast choir. In 2011 I was honored to sing in the Encore Choir production of An American Revival at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I also officiate at weddings at Walt Disney World and have led Christmas and Easter services for resort guests at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
I look forward to meeting each of you and partnering with you as you move forward in ministry.