New Bradenton pastor a big fan of classic rock, contemporary music

vmannix@bradenton.comSeptember 14, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Pastor Jared Olson's secular musical taste may be a little loud for the good folks in his congregation at Redeemer Lutheran Church.

We're talking Boston, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and so forth.

"Classic rock," said a beaming Olson, 44.

That's not to suggest "head-banging" music will accompany his installation as new pastor at 4 p.m. Sunday at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 6311 Third Ave. W. It won't, but it's a small sign the congregation is embracing Olson and his mission.

"Bringing in more young people," Olson said. "I did it at my last church, which shared the same love of contemporary music and contemporary services, and it seemed to draw people."

That was at Hope Lutheran Church in Port St. Lucie where the Rockford, Ill., native was pastor 13 years. He was an associate pastor at Shepherd of the Glades in

Naples before that.

Olson is Redeemer's first permanent pastor after a few years of interim preachers.

"He brings youth, he's very personable and he's very intelligent," said Laurin Stacey, a church council vice president. "You have to have somebody the congregation can relate to and here he is."

And Olson is bringing his music with him.

Redeemer's congregation is about 275 people, predominantly older, and the new pastor wants to infuse it with more youth through music, among other things.

Chris Tomlin, Mercy Me and Third Day are just some of the Christian artists whose musical style Olson would like to include at his services.

"Young people really want a service where they leave and can take home something from the sermon that gets used during the week and music they can hum along to during the week, too," he said. "We want to bring that in, but keep the traditional music. We'd never do away with that -- I grew up with it -- but I want to bring in other alternative. So we have traditional for people who want traditional and contemporary for people who want that."

Ordained 16 years, Olson received his calling after a personal trial. Educated at Dana College, a now defunct Christian school in Blair, Neb., he and his first wife had a baby girl with cystic fibrosis.

"Through that struggle I really got close to God," Olson said. "I don't like to say I bargained with God, but I said if you bring her through this I'll pay you back somehow."

His daughter is now a 22-year-old student at the University of Central Florida and gets annual checkups for the disorder.

God's blessings didn't stop there.

Olson's second wife, Anna, lost her first child to sudden infant death syndrome.

They are expecting a baby girl in January.

"We've both had some tragedies to deal with," Olson said. "But our faith has been rewarded."

He wants to share it, too.

Olson plans to reach out to the community in ways beyond musical, taking advantage of Redeemer's partnership with Trinity Lutheran Church.

"I want to go out, knock on doors, get involved with community activities, go to athletic events and let people know about us," he said. "We want to let them know we have a new pastor here who likes young people and we have things to offer them."

Olson will also be ministering to Redeemer's elderly folks, too.

"Visiting nursing homes, the hospital, that's part of my job and I love it," he said. "But I want to include youth in our activities."

Susie Kruse is counting on Olson succeeding.

"He has good energy, a tremendous compassion to the elderly and personality that works for the young and the old," the church council president said. "That's what it's going to take in our congregation."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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