By Steve Sears
Reverend Beau Nelson is Pastor of two congregations: Saint Mark Lutheran Church of Morristown and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Florham Park. He started at the latter in May 2019 and was officially installed as Pastor in both churches on the same day, last November 9, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. respectively.
He had been serving at another Lutheran church in Jersey City prior to his new callings.
Nelson has been referred to as “young and energetic,” a description which draws a laugh from the 34-year-old. However comical he finds it the description may be an apropos one. On Sundays, he has 9:15 services at Saint Mark, and then treks in his car 12 combined miles north up Route 287 and east on Route 24 to Good Shepherd for 11:00 worship. “The difficulty,” he says, “is I can’t be with both congregations as I’d like to be,” he says.
Both Good Shepherd and Saint Mark within the past few years had pastors leave either due to retirement or switch to a different congregation, and were every weekend served by visiting clerics in the pulpit. Nelson was named the permanent “leader of the flock” when both worked with the Bishop of the New Jersey Synod of the Lutheran Church and agreed to a Shared Ministry, where Nelson is part-time Pastor of both.
“Oh, my goodness! It’s incredibly exciting to be in both of these communities,” Nelson says regarding being Pastor of two parishes. “Excitement and possibility. The folks here at Good Shepherd are committed to this ministry continuing for decades to come, and because they are committed to the Gospel message being proclaimed in word and deed, they are committed to doing what God is calling us to do. It’s very exciting, but at the same time we also have to live in the here and now.” At Saint Mark, there is a hunger to be a bigger community presence. “To do the work Jesus has called us to do; not just sit in church for an hour and just leave. They want to be a real part of the community.”
Both congregations have about 100 members but are different. Florham Park is an older in age congregation with a lot of emphasis on activities for senior citizens, the congregation primarily that age group. “They are seniors with lots of energy,” says Nelson, who will be married this upcoming Easter Sunday for one year to his wife, Alexis. “They do so much in the community, and there are so many organizations that we partner with (a list of how the congregation serves can be found at www.good-shepherd-church.net). Nelson calls the reach a “global and local connection.” “While we are an aging congregation, there is lots of energy. They appreciate my energy and enthusiasm, and I also appreciate their willingness to dive right in and be excited about ministry.”
As for Saint Mark, there is not a large senior membership, but is a working age group congregation with a number of families with babies to college students. “A lot of our ministry there is focusing on, especially as we’re dreaming ahead, how do we – knowing that families are very busy and still want to have some spiritual connections and be filled spiritually – serve as Jesus told us to serve our neighbors? We’re working on that,” says Nelson.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is located at 160 Ridgedale Avenue in Florham Park, and Saint Mark Lutheran Church (www.saint-mark-lutheran-church.org) is located at 100 Harter Road in Morristown.