Remembering John Nielson
John Mann Nielson passed away 28 April 2023 at the age of 79. He served as a pastor, missionary, educator, and administrator, including as president of Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary and director of Ministerial Development for the Church of the Nazarene’s International Headquarters.
Nielson was born on 30 June 1943 in Waterville, Vermont, USA. He graduated from Eastern Nazarene College with a Bachelor of Arts in religion in 1965. Then in 1967, he graduated again from ENC with a Master of Arts in religion. In 1969, he completed his Master of Divinity at Nazarene Theological Seminary and graduated cum laude. In 1989, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Eastern Nazarene College.
Nielson was an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene, serving in Wells River, Vermont; Frankfurt, Germany; Carrollton, Missouri; Warminster, Pennsylvania; and Syracuse, New York.
He was a missionary for the Church of the Nazarene in Copenhagen, Denmark; Manila, Philippines; and Busingen, Germany.
As an educator, he taught in Nazarene colleges, universities, and seminaries in the USA, Germany, the Philippines, Australia, and Samoa. As an administrator, Nielson was the vice president for Church and Public Relations for his alma mater, ENC.
As the director of Ministerial Development at the International Headquarters of the Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City, Missouri, he supervised the Course of Study to prepare ministers for licensing and ordination; he also coordinated PALCON events across the United States and the continuing education program for ministers in the denomination.
In November 1989, Nielson was elected as the third president of Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary (APNTS) in Manila, Philippines. He was the longest-serving president of APNTS. In April 2003, Nielson was declared president emeritus of APNTS, and the five-story, multipurpose Nielson Center for Education and Evangelism was dedicated to honor his contribution to APNTS.
In 2002, Nielson accepted an invitation to serve as academic dean and lecturer at European Nazarene College in Busingen, Germany. In 2004, he was appointed associate professor in religion at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio. He retired in May 2015 and received the Faculty of the Year Award.
Nielson was a prolific writer and musician, publishing three books, a children’s musical, and numerous poems and songs.
He is survived by his wife, Janice, and his children, John Williams Nielson (Amy) and Janelle Marie Beiler (Joel). He has five grandchildren, Bethany (Ben), Kathryn (David), Jenna, Jacob (Kayla), and Jaben.
A memorial service was held on Saturday, 20 May, at 3 p.m. at the Lakeholm Church of the Nazarene in Mount Vernon, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in John’s memory supporting the work of Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary.