The Rev. Mark Larson
Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Organization: Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta, GA
The Rev. Mark Larson is senior pastor of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, GA.
Pastor Mark H. Larson knew he wanted to be a parish pastor when he was eight years old. Having a father who was a pastor probably had something to do with that early calling, but probably even more important was the congregation where Mark and his family worshiped. Reen Memorial was a small Lutheran congregation in the inner city of St. Louis, and in the 1960's, was right in the middle of many of the struggles and questions being faced by the entire nation: the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, school busing, gangs, drugs and the war on poverty. Reen was a congregation dedicated to welcoming all with the love of Christ, working on behalf of the poor, especially young people, and joining with other churches to improve the quality of life in its neighborhood. That early experience of how a congregation could be relevant and central to people's everyday lives has remained a foundation for Pastor Mark's vision of ministry from the beginning.
After graduating from Lane Tech High School in Chicago and Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, Pastor Larson, enrolled in Harvard Divinity School for his seminary education. Firm in his Lutheran identity, he wanted to learn from other religious perspectives. Harvard certainly fulfilled that hope. Even as he worked as a Vicar for Students at University Lutheran Church in Harvard Square, Mark studied with students from all over the world from every kind of religious perspective imaginable. Another central part of his vision for ministry was formed during this time; when we are clear about what we believe and why we believe it, we can meet other beliefs with openness and respect rather than fear and judgment.
While serving his first parish as pastor, Our Savior's Lutheran in Riverdale, IL, Mark met someone who shared his commitment to building community and faith active in love. Cindy Holler was hired by New Cities Community Development Corp. to help churches deal with the overwhelming amount of abandoned housing in the south suburbs of Chicago. While working together to build a senior housing complex on land that his church owned, Cindy and Mark fell in love and were married in 1994. Cindy still works in developing affordable housing around the nation as President and CEO of Community Housing Capital.
After Our Savior's, Mark served as pastor of Messiah Lutheran in Park Ridge, IL and as Senior Pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran in St. Charles, IL. In June, 2017, he began his ministry as Senior Pastor of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Midtown Atlanta. He has come full circle, once again a part of vibrant congregation dedicated to building Christian community in the middle of a city.
Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Mark Larson
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Monday February 11, 2019
In focusing on Jesus's words "Blessed are those who mourn" in the Beatitudes, Pastor Mark Larson encourages us to be more honest about our own brokenness, so we can see how close we are to one another --and how much we need each other.