Former APNTS President John M. Nielson passes away

May 12, 2023

Dr. John Mann Nielson, former Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary president, joined his creator on April 28, 2023. He was 79 years old.

Dr. Nielson was born on June 30, 1943, in Waterville, Vermont, USA. He graduated from Eastern Nazarene College (ENC) with a Bachelor of Arts in religion in 1965. Then in 1967, he graduated again from ENC with a degree in Master of Arts in Religion. In 1969 he completed his Master of Divinity at Nazarene Theological Seminary and graduated cum laude. Finally, in 1989 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Eastern Nazarene College, where he also received an Alumni Achievement Award. John received preaching awards from ENC and NTS.

John Nielson was an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. He served in various roles – pastor, missionary, educator, and administrator. 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, John was the Vice President for Church and Public Relations for his alma mater, ENC. He also served as the Director of Ministerial Development at the International Headquarters of the Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City, MO, where he supervised the Course of Study to prepare ministers for licensing and ordination, coordinated PALCON events across the United States, as well as the continuing education program for ministers in the denomination.

In November 1989, John 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, John was declared President Emeritus of APNTS. A special ceremony was held to dedicate the five-story multipurpose Nielson Center for Education and Evangelism to honor his contribution to APNTS.

In 2002 John 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.

John 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 – Rev. Dr. John Williams Nielson (Amy) and Rev. Janelle Marie Beiler (Joel). He has five grandchildren – Bethany (Ben), Kathryn (David), Jenna, Jacob (Kayla), and Jaben.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 20th at 3:00 PM at the Lakeholm Church of the Nazarene, Mt Vernon, Ohio. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that the contributions be made in John’s memory supporting the work of Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary.

Grace Tia

Grace Tia is the Communications Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Region.

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