2021 NLSA School Shepherd Announced!

Pastor Eric Carlson
NLSA School Shepherd
2021 Award Recipient

The Lutheran School Shepherd Award was established by National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA) to honor a faithful pastor who provides outstanding encouragement, support and service to his school.  Pastors who are considered for this prestigious award understand and articulate a clear philosophy of Lutheran education and provide spiritual encouragement, guidance and support for the schools entrusted to their care. They are champions for their schools. 

We are pleased to announce that Pastor Eric Carlson who serves at St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Hannibal, Missouri, is selected as the 2021 NLSA School Shepherd. 

Pastor Carlson was nominated by the NLSA Validation Team at the time of St. John’s Lutheran School’s NLSA site visit in spring, 2021.  After his nomination was endorsed by LCMS English District officials, a committee of well-respected pastors reviewed each application and unanimously selected Pastor Carlson from the slate of deserving leaders nominated for this award. 

When asked, “Why do you love your school?” Pastor Carlson replied, “I love serving at St. John’s Lutheran School because of the endless opportunities to share the love of God in Christ, Jesus. God has brought the children to the waters of Holy Baptism. Parents have become reengaged with the faith as their children share Bible verses and stories at home. Our church members have had their faith strengthened as the children come to sing during worship. It is a joy to partner with the teachers and staff as we spread the Gospel and see faith sprout and grow.”

Former LCMS English District, Executive Director of Schools, Gail Holzer endorses Pastor Carlson’s nomination and shares, “His (Pastor Carlson) passion for teaching children the Christian faith is evident… Realizing the need for the teachers… to have a clear understanding of Lutheran doctrines and teaching, he initiated classes… and leads and teaches in a manner that is open and welcoming, encouraging the faculty and staff every step of the way.” 

Principal JoAnne Conoyer affirms “As a non-Lutheran, I met weekly with Pastor Carlson for catechism classes. His leadership throughout the course helped me better understand the beliefs and teachings of the Lutheran Church, which helped me teach the Lutheran faith to my students.”

A member of St. John’s shares, “For the children, he is immovable in faith. His office is in the school where he readily ministers to students and faculty. Weekly chapel services were made accessible to all students and families during distance learning… His leadership was a beacon of hope to the faculty and the outside community… We are thankful that the Lord placed him in our church, in our community, and in our children’s lives.”

A community parent observes, “We are confident in Pastor Carlson’s faith, commitment to Lutheran education, and his leadership. He is one of the main reasons our children attend St. John’s.”

A graduate of the University of Vermont and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo., Pastor Carlson has faithfully served at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Chicago, Ill. (2011-2015), Peace Lutheran Church, McMurray, Penn. (2015-2017) and St. John’s Lutheran Church and School, Hannibal, Mo. (2017- present).  

Pastor Eric Carlson’s leadership exemplifies the traits of a faithful school shepherd and NLSA is pleased to recognize his service and contributions to Lutheran education with the 2021 School Shepherd Award.