Pastor Ian is passionate about helping people connect faith with daily life and understanding what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. He is interested in exploring ways that the church can engage others in the community to share the Gospel with the world.
Ian was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on July 31, 1986, and grew up in beautiful, rural central Pennsylvania in the Muncy/Hughesville area. He was involved in the Church from a young age: his father was a church organist, his mother a cantor, and himself an acolyte. Some of his favorite childhood memories include gardening with his grandparents, family picnics, swimming in the local creek, and playing with his sister and brother. He graduated from Hughesville High School in 2003.
Ian attended Penn State University where he studied Cultural Anthropology. He was particularly interested in religion, and the relationship between culture and religious practices and beliefs. He worked part time in the accounting office of his stepfather’s company throughout his college studies, and enjoyed working in the office and with customers. Ian forged many valuable friendships and gained valuable life experience during college. Through his study of Anthropology, he was able to develop his love of people and his passion for spiritual and religious meaning in life. He graduated from Penn State in 2007.
After college, Ian began to seek a career, and temporarily began a part-time job at Subway, where he eventually became a store manager for three years. During this time he also began work as a music director for his family’s church, Gatesburg Lutheran. During these years, Ian became very involved in the church: both in the worship planning as music director and in the administration through his position as church council secretary. He formed a good relationship with his pastor, Susan Williamson, who was extremely supportive of him during this time. At Gatesburg Lutheran, Ian realized his gifts and passion for ministry and his love of the Church. During this time, he discerned his call to ordained ministry and enrolled in Seminary during the Fall of 2010.
Ian enjoyed a very formative and successful time in Seminary. He had the opportunity to serve a wide variety of congregations throughout his four year program. He also enjoyed his summer internship as a hospital chaplain, where he excelled at pastoral care. In seminary, he developed a love for scripture and refined his own personal faith and devotional life. In 2013, Ian and his husband Mark David Johnson were married at the Seminary Chapel; they met at Seminary in the Fall of 2011. He graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in May 2014.
Ian now lives in Hamilton NJ with his husband Mark, who is the vicar at St Michael’s Episcopal Church in Trenton NJ. Ian enjoys outdoor sports, such as running, hiking, swimming, and biking. He is an avid musician; he has played piano since age five, and enjoys studying and playing the music of classical composers such as J.S. Bach, Chopin, and Liszt, as well as continues to play hymns for his own devotional practices. He enjoys studying languages and traveling. Ian enjoys spending time at home in State College PA, where his mother and stepfather have a beautiful farm where they live with his younger sisters.
Susan T. Nelson has been published since 1991 and has nearly 150 compositions and arrangements in print with 21 different publishers. Her works have been featured at international festivals such as “Ring in Praise,” Dunblane Cathedral, Scotland; and numerous AGEHR seminars, most recently, the “2008 National Festival Conference,” in Orlando, FL. They have been recorded by many ensembles, including Embellish, Grand Rapids, MI, and Handglockenchor, Hannover, Germany. Commissions include writing for such prestigious groups as the Ringers of Bryn Mawr, Philadelphia, PA, and Velocity Handbell Ensemble, Oakland, CA.
Susan has studied in master class with Donald Allured, Cynthia Dobrinski, and Katsumi Kodama, and holds a B.A. degree in music theory and composition from Rutgers University. Graduate music education studies at Trenton State College led to NJ teacher certification. Honors include the 1999 AGEHR McKeehan Scholarship, and 2008 ASCAP Plus Award.
As a clinician, she has taught composition, orchestration, score study, theory, and various handbell technique classes at seminars including AGEHR Area II Festival Conferences. Susan is the author of “KidzRing,” an innovative series of books designed for very young ringers. She is a nationally recognized specialist on antique handbells, has many unique instruments in her collection, and frequently serves as a consultant to identify rare bells.
Ms. Nelson is our Minister of Music and has been at St. Mark since 1999. She is also employed as a Library Technical Assistant with Westminster Choir College.