The Rev. Mark H. Larson serves as Redeemer’s Senior Pastor following his call in 2018.
Pastor Mark Larson knew he wanted to be a parish pastor when he was eight years old. Having a father who was a pastor probably had something to do with that early calling, but probably even more important was the congregation where Mark and his family worshiped. Reen Memorial was a small Lutheran congregation in the inner city of St. Louis, and in the 1960’s, was right in the middle of many of the struggles and questions being faced by the entire nation: the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, school busing, gangs, drugs and the war on poverty. Reen was a congregation dedicated to welcoming all with the love of Christ, working on behalf of the poor, especially young people, and joining with other churches to improve the quality of life in its neighborhood. That early experience of how a congregation could be relevant and central to people’s everyday lives has remained a foundation for Pastor Mark’s vision of ministry from the beginning.
After graduating from Lane Tech High School in Chicago and Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, Pastor Larson, enrolled in Harvard Divinity School for his seminary education. Firm in his Lutheran identity, he wanted to learn from other religious perspectives. Harvard certainly fulfilled that hope. Even as he worked as a Vicar for Students at University Lutheran Church in Harvard Square, Mark studied with students from all over the world from every kind of religious perspective imaginable. Another central part of his vision for ministry was formed during this time; when we are clear about what we believe and why we believe it, we can meet other beliefs with openness and respect rather than fear and judgment.
While serving his first parish as pastor, Our Savior’s Lutheran in Riverdale, IL, Mark met someone who shared his commitment to building community and faith active in love. Cindy Holler was hired by New Cities Community Development Corp. to help churches deal with the overwhelming amount of abandoned housing in the south suburbs of Chicago. While working together to build a senior housing complex on land that his church owned, Cindy and Mark fell in love and were married in 1994. Cindy now runs her own national consulting firm in the affordable housing sector, but until last year she worked to develop housing for the poor and homeless as Vice President for Real Estate Development for Mercy Housing, a national non-profit housing provider.
Pastor Mark’s Journey:
Senior Pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta, GA, 2018-present
Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Saint Charles, IL, 2004-2018
Senior Pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church, Park Ridge IL, 1997-2004
Pastor, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Riverdale, IL, 1988-1997
M.Div. in Religion from Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA, 1987
B.A. in English and Religion from Augustana College, Rock Island, IL, 1984