Mentors to the church
Perhaps you know their names: Martin Marty, Paul Manz, Mary Nelson. Perhaps not.
But our experiences as ELCA members, and those of a good many others, have been influenced and shaped by each of the three. Through their different contributions, each has been a mentor to people who have become leaders and innovators in church and society.
Now in, or near, retirement the three continue to play a part in our life together. These profiles explore the ideas and actions that distinguish their faith-filled lives and tell what Marty, Manz and Nelson each has given to the church.
Young drug dealers were brazenly operating outside Bethel Lutheran Church in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood when Mary Nelson arrived one day last February.
"I was so mad," Nelson recalls. "I went up to them and said, 'You have to get off this corner! This is God's corner.' " A bespectacled woman of 64 with a grandmotherly smile, Nelson would seem an unlikely contestant for a battle of wills with street thugs — much less a triumphant one.
"I had to wait there 10 minutes while they slowly walked away," Nelson says, shaking her head. "But we've struggled so hard to get them off that corner. You just have to keep at it."
The showdown with corner drug dealers reveals Nelson's unflinching faith, fearless tenacity and deep concern — qualities that have made her one of the nation's most respected community development executives of one of the most revered agencies.
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© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers