Rev. Fred Nelson
Lead Pastor at Redeemer Church in Park Ridge and Chicago, IL
Rev. Fred Nelson is the lead pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, a three-location multi-site congregation in Park Ridge and Chicago, Illinois that has a special heart for reaching and retaining 20 to 30-year-old young adults. A former missionary in Bangladesh and expert in Christian-Muslim relations, Rev. Nelson has had a long-standing passion to share the Gospel wherever God leads him. In addition to his work at Redeemer, he is also the founder and Executive Director of the Lutheran Church Planters Network. This is a congregation-led collaborative effort involving the Metropolitan Chicago Synod and the Domestic Mission Unit of the ELCA. The LCPN helps train mission developers in the ELCA through a “Churches Starting Churches” track, one-year church planter residencies, coaching services, and expansion of local church planting networks to help give practical church planting training to prospective church planters across the country.
Rev. Nelson has also been involved in prison ministry since 2006, working at Stateville Prison, in Joliet, Illinois. Rev. Nelson has served at Stateville as a volunteer with Prison Fellowship, has taught the Alpha Course in prison, and has led more than sixty different volunteers to distribute more than 8,000 Bibles and pray with inmates over the past few years. In 2012, after several years of collaborating with inmates and ex-inmates, Rev. Nelson published the Spiritual Survival Guide for Prison and Beyond in the hope that it might bring hope, practical wisdom, and the light and love of Christ into some dark places. He is also the founder and executive director of the Inside Out Network, a growing network of service providers, churches, ministries, and volunteers who are banding together to offer a better way to help returning citizens navigate re-entry in Illinois and beyond through developing a revolutionary re-entry website.
Because of Christ’s call and claim on his life, Rev. Nelson sees himself fundamentally as a change-agent – an evangelistic agent of Christ’s life-changing hope – to everyone he meets, but especially to those who are feeling hopeless.