Jeff has been a leader in congregational visioning, community development and entrepreneurial innovation for more than 20 years in the Minneapolis synod. Following graduation from seminary in 1994, Nehrbass pastored congregations in Edina, Andover and Minneapolis while working as a tentmaker, teacher, business owner and mediator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. For the past 10 years he has been Pastor at Gethsemane Lutheran in North Minneapolis, working alongside neighbors, sister churches, ecumenical partners and government with a new model of how to identify and empower leaders, develop resources and grow Christ’s church at a 125 year old mission outpost.
In 2015 Nehrbass cast a new vision of how we work together as Church called a Mission Cluster, groups of churches who accompany one another for the sake of shared learning, depth of relationship, resource sharing, entrepreneurship, ingenuity and public voice. As a result of this innovative approach of organizing, developing resources, engaging volunteers, and effectively utilizing media and crowd sourcing, Gethsemane now celebrates new life, growth in size, sustainability and is changing the narrative of declining churches in the ELCA.
Born in the rural town of Heron Lake, Minnesota and raised in the small city of West Bend, Wisconsin, Nehrbass holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and English from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and received his Master of Divinity degree from Luther Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Married to Cynthia Lehew-Nehrbass, they are parents to Sarah and Jacob Nehrbass.
What gifts would you bring to the office of bishop of this synod?
A fervently devoted disciple who loves Christ’s church and lives to share the Good News of God’s love for us in Jesus. A passionate proponent and organizer of community outreach, connecting churches with the needs of their communities. Proven track record of casting shared visions that are believable, engaging and interesting. Deep listener, partner focused, interest oriented, and authentically relational. Decades of experience in urban ministry as well as practical experience setting up a successful church-based non-profit food shelf, Faith-Based Daycare and volunteer programming that teaches the community members how to in turn learn to serve others.
Successfully putting into practice a vision of Mission Cluster Ministry; guiding churches to come together to combine talents, resources and energies in serving all God’s people. A 25 year business owner who has experience developing, driving and managing growth plans with specific outputs and outcomes. Training and certification in conflict resolution and mediation. Years of successful peaceful mediation outcomes through finding common ground and mutual respect (an often overlooked training for those in leadership positions who might find themselves in situations needing peaceful resolution). Experience reviving a dying urban church, helping it to change and grow to serve in a diverse neighborhood, to provide hospitality to the stranger, experience oneness in Christ, and inclusivity within God’s community and church. A strong vision and energy to create and implement a new culture within the synod and church at large toward our goal as stated in the first 3 words of our synod’s Mission Statement “We work together” to graciously invite others into Christian community through practical, doable and track record proven plans and programming.
Describe your leadership style.
Entrepreneurial, persistent, flexible, able to make course corrections. Can fly a vision banner and not afraid of headwinds, though prefers strategic and collaborative alignment of stakeholders. Doing the right thing and doing things right are both highly valued. Staffs around personal and organizational growing edges. Prefers meetings where he is not the smartest one in the room.
Pastor -Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, MN
Congregation of Membership
Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, MN
Year of Ordination
Our Saviors Lutheran in South Minneapolis
Shepherd of the Hills in Edina
Redeemer Lutheran of North Minneapolis
Grace Lutheran in Andover
Owner, On Your Toes School of Dance and Balance Pointe Studios
World and United States Pro/Am Ballroom Dance Champion 2005
Education with Earned Degrees
BA, Philosophy and English – University of Wisconsin, Madison
MDiv – Luther Northwestern Seminary, St. Paul
Teaching Fellow and Adjudicator- United States Society of Teachers of Dance
Continuing Education and Professional Development
Spanish language and cultural immersion – Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia 2007 -present
Second Harvest Heartland Civil Rights Training 2014-present
MN Rule 114 Qualified Neutral Training 2013
EEOC Federal Mediator Training specializing in labor discrimination 2014-present
ELCA Missional Leaders Training Conference 2016
Current and Past Board and Committee Membership
Executive Officer, Treasurer of USISTD National Committee 2005-2008
Member, Lind-Bohanan Neighborhood Association 2013-2014
Member, MN Workforce Satellite Program 2014-2015
Member, Second Harvest Heartland Pilot Food Scarcity Program 2017
Current or past synodical or churchwide activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.
Past MAS Healthy Neighborhood Grant Recipient
Past Member of MAS Health and Wellness Table
Current Member of MAS Mission Table
Current or past community-related activities that would inform your service as bishop of this synod.
Ecumenical Mission Cluster Developer 2008-present
Current Missionary Baptist Agency Partner Liaison to Second Harvest Heartland
Board Chair, The Camden Promise 2015-present