God's mission is carried out through a priesthood of all believers. As Lutherans, we believe that church leadership is shared between our staff and lay leaders.
- St John’s dedicated and active staff includes ordained Senior and Associate pastors, Director of Music, Director of Youth, Church Administrator, Office Assistant, and Sexton.
- Equally important is the lay leadership, providing oversight over worship and music, evangelism, outreach, congregational care, learning, property, finance, stewardship, communications and mutual ministry.
Our staff provides the spiritual and the day-to-day leadership of St. John's. They are central to the mission of our congregation.
Rev. Nancy Christensen, Senior Pastor
Rev. Nancy Christensen is the Senior Pastor at St. John’s. Prior to joining St. John's, she served as associate pastor of Worship, Education and Youth and Outreach at Cross and Crown Lutheran Church in Chamblee, GA. Other positions Pastor Nancy has held include assistant to the Bishop of the Southeastern Synod; Mission Developer and Pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Suwanee, GA; Director of Education and Youth at Christ the King Lutheran in Norcross, GA; and Director of Youth Ministries in the South Carolina Synod. Before attending seminary, Pastor Nancy taught language arts in middle school.
Pastor Nancy is an Atlanta native, a graduate of University of Georgia and the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. She explains that her ties to St. John’s go back many years. Her youth groups used to stay overnight at the retreat center. In the late 1990s, when she was involved with the Synod’s efforts to ignite a ministry in the Little 5 Points neighborhood, she reconnected with St. John’s. More recently, she has guest preached here. Now, the Holy Spirit has guided her back to this congregation to this call. We thank God for these blessings and look forward to this new chapter in our church life.
Rev. Beverly Brown Shaw, Associate Pastor
When considered for candidacy in the ELCA, I was asked to come to St. John’s Lutheran Church for an interview. I sat with Megan Jones in a closed-in porch. I remember how beautiful and majestic the whole building was. And I remember how warm and welcoming Megan was. Little did I know that the journey that I traveled to become a called and ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the ELCA would bring me back to St. John’s Lutheran, right where the journey began! The building is still majestic and beautiful and the members are still warm and welcoming.
I was born and educated in Atlanta, GA. I was born into a faith filled home, the oldest of four children. I am the mother of two children and the grandmother of three. After receiving my primary and secondary education from Atlanta Public Schools, I graduated from Spelman College, Georgia State University and the Interdenominational Theological Center. I attended The Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with which I am affiliated. I have been uniquely prepared for my journey with the church as I have worked from the pantry to the pulpit and have enjoyed every minute of it. I have been a member of the board of WELCA, the Southeastern Women of the ELCA, and currently serve on the Board of Directors of Lutheran Services of Georgia. I am passionate about my family and the church and its mission. But my greatest passion is my desire that all people should know the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.
Ministry is not my first career. While raising a family, I worked with the underserved community of Fulton and DeKalb counties as a Registered Nurse, and as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer with the Regional Perinatal Center at the Grady Health System. While there, I was appointed a clinical associate for the Emory School of Medicine. Upon leaving Grady, I started a small business that provided sonographic testing to doctors’ offices in north Georgia.
I have been the first of many things in my life. I was the first child born to my parents, the first girl to play in my elementary school band, the first woman to lead one congregation, and the first African American to lead another. But the first I am most proud of today is my first call, Associate Pastor, St. John’s Lutheran Church – another first!
Jeanette Burgess, AIM, Director of Music
Jeanette Burgess hails from the Midwest, where she graduated from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD and became a band director and private instrumental instructor. She moved to the South in 1982 and was commissioned as an Associate in Ministry in 1987 with a specialization in Music and Worship. Prior to arriving at St. John’s, Jeanette was called to congregations in Marietta, Grayson, (Director of Music), and Savannah, GA (Director of Music, Worship, and Education). She came to St. John’s in 2000 and after a few stints as our interim Director of Music, eventually settled into the permanent position. Her full-time call is as Administrative Liaison for Leadership in the Office of the Bishop of the Southeastern Synod, ELCA. There she deals with candidacy, call process, and keeping the roster records for the synod.
Working a job and a half, there’s not much time left to play, but when she gets the chance, Jeanette enjoys reading, art, drama, and shamelessly catering to her blind cat, Keeters.
Travis Gamelin, Director of Youth
I have been the Youth Director at St. John’s for just over a year, and moved to Atlanta from the mountains of Asheville, NC. While in Asheville I taught Video Productions and also worked to mainstream Autism/ Asperger’s students in a private Christian school. My wife Kendall and I lived only five minutes from Lutheridge, a summer camp and conference center where both of us spent many years on staff. I was a counselor for three years, ran the craft lodge for two, and did an additional summer as a Senior Staff member. Before my adventures in NC, I was a professional cameraman in Orlando, FL following my graduation from the University of Central Florida with degrees in production and anthropology. My parents still live in Tampa where I grew up with my two younger sisters. All of these adventures have led to a love of working with youth and a desire to help guide them to find meaning in a messy world. St. John’s is a great congregation to work with in reaching this goal, and the opportunities afforded to me and the youth by a loving, open, and thoughtful church are unique. I get to engage with youth through worship, fellowship, and service consistently, and also get to have fun playing with a purpose!
Myrna Lance, Office Administrator
Myrna Lance is a native Atlantan who has been attending St. John's since the late 1950s. She became church secretary in late 1979 and hasn't looked back. She briefly considered becoming a real estate agent and earned her license but chose to stay at St. John's instead. She likes working at St. John's because she greatly enjoys meeting people and ministering to them. Myrna and her husband Bob have two grown children and seven grandchildren. When not answering phones, creating bulletins, preparing mailings, and being the keeper of St. John's collective memory, Myrna enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and going to the beach. While she has no current retirement date set, it is something she plans to do, just not too soon.
Judy Louie, Administrative Assistant
Judy Louie joined St. John’s in March 2012 as a part-time office support staff member. At the time, she had retired after spending 30 years with AT&T, Lucent and then Alcatel-Lucent. Her primarily role is to maintain our database of church membership and monetary gifts in support of the church Financial Secretary.
Soon after starting at St. John's, Judy was recruited by Goodman Networks, a private wireless communications company, as an Operations VP. She frequently travels to Dallas and other offices. In addition, Judy volunteers at MedShare; a nonprofit that recovers surplus medical supplies and equipment from US hospitals, healthcare distributors and manufacturers for redistribution to underserved healthcare facilities overseas. Born in Hong Kong, Judy calls Philadelphia her home town where her Mom, sister and other family members live. Judy and her partner, Joanie Slotter (a St. John's member), have lived in Atlanta since 1999. P.S. Judy and Joanie celebrated 20 years of togetherness in 2013!
Clyde Payton, Sexton
Clyde Payton has been the part-time Sexton at St. John's since 1998. His primary role is to keep the sanctuary and mansion clean and prepared for worship and the other activities that take place during the week. He also works as a cosmetologist and a musician. Clyde characterizes St. John's as someplace special because of the friendly and caring people who work and worship in this house of God. In his spare time, he enjoys playing in his band and having fun with family.
St. John's Church Council, comprising the pastors, the congregation President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, ministry chairs and at-large members, serves as the governing body of the congregation. The Council meets on the fourth Thursday of the month; all are welcome to attend.
Worship + Music
The Worship & Music Ministry Team is responsible for planning and coordination, in consultation with the pastors, all congregational worship events including special services for Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter morning services, Pentecost and Pet Blessing. The team also provides for the proper care, use and maintenance of the communion ware, the altar furnishings and vestments. And the team is responsible for recruiting, supervising and providing training for the lay readers, communion assistants, acolytes, assistant ministers, and cantors. The Worship & Music Ministry Team meets on the first Thursday of each month.
Stewardship refers to our collective support of the mission of St. John’s through our gifts of time, service, and money. The Stewardship Ministry Team helps the congregation to reflect on what is needed to support its mission, as well as to encourage and coordinate giving by individual members. In particular, the Stewardship Ministry Team coordinates the congregation’s annual fall pledge campaign, during which members and friends commit to support the congregation financially through the coming year, as well as the spring survey of member’s gifts and interests, which is used to coordinate volunteers for St. John’s many ministries. The Stewardship Ministry Team usually meets on the first Monday of the month at 7:30.
The Evangelism Committee (also known as the “E-Team”) is the Ministry Team at St. John’s responsible for inviting our neighbors to share in God’s love with us as well as welcoming new guests who walk through our doors. In furtherance of our mission, the Evangelism Committee has created St. John’s branded materials, such as business cards and pens, for the congregation to distribute to our guests and neighbors, as well as planning Evangelism Workshops to teach our congregation the tools on being more welcoming and loving to those who choose to visit. The Evangelism Committee is also engaged in mentoring new members and assisting in new member orientation to help seamlessly integrate new members into our community and provide new members with the resources and opportunities to contribute if they so choose. The Evangelism Committee meets on the second Thursday of the month at 7:00 PM.
The Congregational Care ministry team focuses on providing support and care for members of the congregation. Individual and family needs change over time and Congregational Care strives to respond to those needs when they are identified. The response may include meals when there is an illness, injury, birth or death among the membership. It may be visits to those who are home bound, hospitalized or ill. We also send cards to celebrate baptismal anniversaries of our young members, birthday cards to our home bound, and cards to let members who may be experiencing challenges know that we are thinking about them. We provide coffee fellowship after worship and a reception to celebrate with our confirmands and their families. Women's and Men's Night Out activities are planned throughout the year as well as an annual congregational retreat. We have an email prayer chain that all St. John’s members are welcome and encouraged to join. When a member has an urgent request for prayers for self or family, an email is sent to those who are on the email prayer chain. In addition, we support our young families with children by offering a nursery on Sunday mornings and for other special worship services. Congregational Care meets the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at St. John’s.
The biblical basis for the Finance Committee is found in the 6th chapter of Acts. As the numbers of followers grew, the daily task of distributing food to widows was neglected. The 12 apostles then gathered, stating “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables.” They appointed others to the task. The Finance Committee “waits tables” — we do those activities that enable others to preach the Word, deliver the Sacraments and spread the Good News. The Finance Committee, with the Treasurer and Financial Secretary, is responsible to keep track of monies that come into St. John’s and how it is spent, to help Council plan and budget where the money should be spent, to accurately report our financial status, to pay the bills, to account for giving, and to make sure we have telephones, telephone service, Internet service, photocopiers, electric and gas utilities, trash disposal, and the like. Much of the time, our work isn’t seen — similar to praying in a closet. The Finance team meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7PM in the Phoenix Room.
The Communications Ministry reaches the congregation and our communities through media in order to inform, inspire, and invite connection in the life and mission of the Church. Through printed newsletters, bulletins, weekly email blasts, our website, blog, and other media, we help to keep everyone up-to-date on events and encourage participation. We often partner with other ministry teams, providing fundamental support to their efforts by facilitating effective communication. No professional experience is needed – just a desire to get involved and build relationships – though this team is well-suited for those with a background in marketing, journalism, visual design, or related field.
We meet on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 7pm.