Ed Nesselhuf, Pastor Pioneer

Aug 14, 2016

By Rev. Kwen Sanderson, St. Dysmas behind the walls of Mike Durfee Men's Prison in Springfield, SD.

One time I asked Ed, how did PCA get started. Basically, he had attended a gathering at a prison. (I was unclear as to what prison, or the nature of the event.) Anyway, when he came back home, he was moved with compassion that something more needed to be done in prisons. In his recollection, he talked with Diane about it. Her response was, “Well, have you ever failed before?” Which is to say, “Go for it!” As I heard, Ed, it was, literally, the same as Abraham’s journey of faith. He was obeying, what he thought was God’s call to him. Ed related that he went for 2 years, without much happening. One day, as he was ready to give it up, he went to the post office, and there was a check in the mail. It was just enough to keep him going, and, as we say, the rest is history. (Whoever that person was who sent the check, it was a profound blessing.)


By Rev. Chris Flohr, PCA Board member

I remember traveling across the great wide state of Montana with Ed, visiting people and congregations along the way.  We put in a lot of time and miles and visits gaining support for Freedom in Christ Prison Ministry at the MT State Men’s Prison in Deer Lodge, MT.  After our many miles and hours Ed remarked he had never worked so hard at helping to establish a prison congregation, but it was well worth it!  This turned out to be the last prison Ed worked to get started during his tenure at PCA.


By Rev. Paul Stone, The Church of the Damascus Road, behind the walls at the Iowa state prison for men in Ft. Dodge and Rockwell City, IA


In the fall of 1996, I was Chaplain (Dean) of the Twin River Valley Conference of ELCA congregations in and around Fort Dodge, Iowa. We scheduled a Mission Fair and invited Ed to come to tell us about the relatively new concept of congregations in prisons. He came and described a ministry in which prisoners havie "ownership" of their own actual congregation in the prison where they were serving time. Since Fort Dodge was seeking to have a new prison built in its community, the concept was of interest to our mission-minded people.  After his presentation, Ed asked if he was to receive an honorarium. I responded, "No." He then asked, "Well how about mileage?" I again answered, "No". He looked at me with dismay and disgust, but said no more.

The next year a two-point ELCA prison congregation started worshipping in Fort Dodge and in Rockwell City. From the inception of The Church of the Damascus Road, 5% of all offerings received were sent to Ed's relatively new Prison Congregations of America as requested.

Eighteen years later at a fund raiser concert for both CoDR and PCA, Ed was an invited speaker and he told the group the story of my chinseyness with a smile on his face and a glint in his eye, but he also gratefully told of our faithful support of PCA.

Ed knew the challenges of ministry, first hand. God blessed him with vision, thankfulness, and humor.


Category: Leadership

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