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Craig L. Nessan

Craig L. Nessan was born on June 9, 1952 in Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A. He is the son of Lee A. Nessan of Bella Vista, Arkansas and Lucy E. Nessan, both deceased.

Craig attended elementary school, junior high school and high school in Lansing, Michigan, graduating from Lansing Everett High School in June 1970. From 1970 until 1974 he studied at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in June 1974, majoring in psychology. In the fall of 1974 he began his theological studies at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. Having served a pastoral internship in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he graduated from Wartburg Theological Seminary in May 1978 and received the degree Master of Divinity. In December 1978 he received the degree Master of Sacred Theology from Wartburg Theological Seminary. His thesis was entitled Heidegger, Language, and Biblical Interpretation and was received with distinction.

In September 1978 Craig accepted the call to become the pastor of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On October 8, 1978 he was ordained into the pastoral ministry of the American Lutheran Church. He served the congregation in Philadelphia for four years from October 1978 until October 1982.

Accepting a position as Academic Assistant to Prof. Dr. Hans Schwarz at the University of Regensburg, Germany, Craig worked in this position from November 1982 until September 1986. He taught courses at the universities in Regensburg and Passau. During these years he also researched and wrote his doctoral dissertation, published in the United States as Orthopraxis or Heresy: The North American Theological Response to Latin American Liberation Theology. He earned the degree Doctor of Theology from the University of Munich in the summer of 1986.

From January 1987 to January 1994, Craig served as pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. During these years the St. Mark congregation worked to construct a new sanctuary and education building. From August 1989 to December 1993, he also taught in the Philosophy and Religion Department at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, specializing in World Religions and Science and Religion.

In January 1994, Craig returned to Dubuque, Iowa to accept the call to serve at Wartburg Theological Seminary. As Associate Professor of Contextual Theology, his responsibilities include oversight of the internship program, coordination of Clinical Pastoral Education, and teaching in the areas of theology, ministry and ethics. In July 1999 he was appointed Academic Dean of the seminary. He is the author of Many Members, Yet One Body: Committed Same-Gender Relationships and the Mission of the Church, Give Us This Day: A Lutheran Proposal for Ending World Hunger, The Air I Breathe is Wartburg Air: The Legacy of William H. Weiblen, Beyond Maintenance to Mission: A Theology of the Congregation, Who is Christ for Us? (introduced, translated, and edited with Renate Wind), Orthopraxis or Heresy: The North American Response to Latin American Liberation Theology, and numerous articles and book reviews.

Craig married Cathy S. Gee on December 16, 1972. They have six children: Benjamin (1980); Nathaniel (1981); Sarah (1984); Andrew (1987); Jessica (1988); and Mary Catherine (1992). In his spare time he loves to be involved with his family and work on the new lake cottage. He also finds time to play league basketball for Wartburg Seminary and pickup basketball at the YMCA.

Book List

5 items
Release date: 
May 1, 2011

Spanning the continents, three internationally respected theologians demonstrate how the thought and legacy of Martin Luther can serve in an ecumenical and...

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August 2, 2010
Watch Craig Nessan discuss his new book, Shalom Church Find more videos like this on Fortress Forum While many manuals advise clergy and...
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February 24, 2010
Here, in a newly revised edition, is a powerful and pertinent guide for congregations wanting to move away from 'maintenance thinking' to powerful, creative...
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October 4, 2007
Transforming Leadership sets forth the core values and leadership practices that can bring fundamental transformation to the life of the local church. Based on...
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March 20, 2002
In the summer of 1933, Dietrich Bonhoeffer delivered powerful lectures that insisted Christians encounter Jesus Christ as a living person today, as well as in...