A Tribute

Jul 31, 2016

By Mary Mortenson, Director Prison Congregations of America

On June 27th, we experienced a collective breaking of hearts as we learned that Rev. Ed Nesselhuf, the founder of Prison Congregations of America, had died. Ed planted the first prison congregation in Jessup, Maryland in 1984. After he returned to South Dakota three years later, he knew that he had happened upon a model of prison ministry that was innovative and life changing. He organized and became the director of PCA and worked for the next many years to help prison officials and denominational leaders see the value of what had become the PCA Model of Prison Ministry. There are now 30 worshiping communities in 13 states, representing nine denominations. Ed’s legacy is that hundreds, perhaps thousands of people have experienced the inclusive, life-giving power of living out one’s faith within the safety and challenge of community – what we call congregation. In memory of this fine man, I share something I wrote for him when he retired in January of 2009.


January 23, 2009

By Mary Mortenson

The assignment is simple. List those things he has taught you. The temptation, of course, is to try to rhyme, but in place of neatly metered poetry, comes a tumble of words and phrases, punctuated by emotion...

I’ve learned that...

For an ideal to be an ideal, it has to benefit God’s people

Nothing is impossible

Charm and righteous anger can coexist

I’m not God

God works through the many

I better laugh at myself - because others surely will

People matter more than process

Family is glue

It’s OK, in fact, it’s essential, that my love knows no bounds

A nice glass of wine at the end of the day is a gift and a stiff mixed drink can help me put a meeting in perspective,

and more than one of each could make me stupid

Talking things out works

I must always listen - to the heart as well as to the words

Sometimes people need to be reminded of that which they are capable

I must laugh and play each day

Guardian angels never take a day off

Hurt happens, and so does healing

Not everyone who thinks they have all the answers, has them 

When I think I have all the answers, I don’t

When you think of blessings, “thank you” simply doesn’t cover it


And so it is, “thank you” isn’t sufficient in expressing the wonder of what you have accomplished these past years. Your faith, charisma, tenacity and good humor - all God-given - have allowed you to establish this amazing ministry. I am so happy that I can call you friend and mentor.

Happy Birthday

Happy Retirement


Category: Tribute

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