Our Staff and Leadership

Andy & Dana 2015Rev. Andrew J. Carlson, Sr. M.Div., B.A., A.A.

Rev. Andrew J. Carlson, Sr. M.Div., B.A., A.A.

Pastor Carlson grew up with twenty-two other siblings in a log cabin in the back woods of Alaska (120 miles from the Arctic Circle). It was a multi-ethnic family with adopted brothers and sisters from Japan, India, Korea, Alaska native, and two African-American brothers.

He married Dana M. Gadbury in July 1987. They have two children: Andrew, Jr. (birth date Aug. 12, 1988) and Kristin (birth date Jan. 19, 1990). Andrew, Jr., wife Kelsie, and sons Theodore, Thadeus, Thurmond, and daughter Meadow live in Soldotna, Alaska. Kristin lives in Sioux City, Iowa. Both children are teachers.

He graduated from Alaska Bible College with an Associate of Arts degree in Biblical Education on May 4, 1991. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theological Studies from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon on June 12, 1993. He received his Masters of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri on May 23, 1997. During Seminary he served a year (vicarage) at Zion Lutheran Church in Denison Iowa. He also served a summer vicarage at Zion Lutheran in Fairbanks.

During his third year of seminary, he was commissioned an officer in the Navy Chaplain Candidate Program. After completing his Masters of Divinity degree in the spring of 1997, he attended chaplain school at the Naval Education Training Center in Newport, Rhode Island. He then served two churches (dual parish) in South Dakota for two years (1997-1999), fulfilling ecclesiastical requirements for service in the church prior to being released by the Lutheran church for active duty with the Navy.

He then served on active duty with the Navy for five years (1999-2004). He served on the USS Camden AOE-2 as command chaplain for two years, serving a tour in the Persian Gulf, where he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for service to the sailors of the USS Cole, after their bombing in Aden, Yemen. He also served two Navy chapels in the Puget Sound for three years. He was also awarded: the Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and War on Terrorism Service Medal. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant.

He resigned from the Navy in 2004 and took a call to serve a triple parish: Grace (Correctionville, IA), Trinity (Anthon, IA), and St. Paul (rural Battle Creek, Iowa), where he served from 2004-2011. There he was recognized by the LCMS for being in the top 3% of congregations in the synod for adult confirmations.

In 2011 he accepted a call to serve St. Paul’s in Ireton, where he served from 2011-2015. He was instrumental in a 30% increase in weekly attendance and a $250,000 building project that was paid off before he left. He also served as Circuit Visitor for the LeMars Circuit of Iowa District West from 2012-2015.

In 2015 he accepted a call to serve Funny River Community Lutheran Church in rural Soldotna, AK (Funny River), where he is currently serving. He is also serving Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Seldovia. He currently serves as vice chairman on the board of directors for the Alaska Mission for Christ working to start churches throughout Alaska.