Ihno Janssen, former pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church and former director of Christian Counseling Services in Danville and resident of Walnut Creek passed away Oct. 22 in Sonora, Calif. He was 95.
Pastor Ihno Janssen
Janssen became pastor of the then fledgling Alamo Lutheran Church which met on Hemme Avenue at Rancho Romero Elementary School in 1982. It soon became Messiah Lutheran Church, and he continued for five years, assisting in the development of their new church building on Camino Tassajara. Upon his retirement in 1987 at age 69, he opened the Christian Counseling Services on Front Street in Danville, where he did counseling for individuals and families until he was 80.
Janssen also served as interim pastor and preacher at Bay Area Lutheran Churches, and was a trainer and consultant to area nursing homes until he became legally blind at the age of 83.
He leaves a large contingent of former students, colleagues and parishioners, many of whom have remained in contact with him in his later years. Many couples remember him as the pastor who married them, and a recent reunion event determined that he performed more than 1,000 weddings over his 60-year pastoral career. Friends he valued and associations he developed included community leaders and individuals from other faiths, including Catholic priests, rabbis, other pastors and a variety of people from all walks of life, as well as relationships he developed through his pursuit of a counseling degree.
Janssen considered a baseball career and was asked to practice with the Minnesota Twins as an entry to exhibit his pitching skill. He was one of 10 children and claimed the best part of coming from such a large family was that they had a ready made baseball team. Times were tough for the family during the Great Depression and he offered to delay his college education to pay off the family debt at the local grocery store for two years. He played baseball in his youth and went on to college success at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn. but he felt the call to become a minister and ultimately receive his Divinity degree at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. Two of his brothers, his father and his grandfather were also Lutheran pastors.
Pastor Janssen served parishes in Philadelphia, Pa., St. Paul. and at West Portal Lutheran Church in San Francisco. He was also the assistant executive secretary of the English District based in Detroit, served on various synodical boards and was also on the national Board of Directors of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod from 1981-85.
He received his B.A. at Concordia University in 1940 and received his divinity degree from Concordia Seminary in 1945. He also received a M.A in Counseling from San Francisco State University and an Ed.D from the University of Santa Barbara in 1985. He also was bestowed an honorary Dr. of Divinity from Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1980 and another honorary Dr. of Divinity from the English District of the Lutheran Church in 2012.
He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Shirley of Sonora, Calif.; his daughter and son-in-law Judi and Bill Wilson of Sonora;l his daughters Jerolyn of Oxnard, Calif. and Janelle of San Diego and his son Jonathan of San Jose. He also is survived by grandson Andy Wilson of San Diego, and granddaughters Darien (Daren) Drown, Lauren Wilson of Sacramento, Julianne Janssen of San Jose as well as one great grandson Dean Drown. He was preceded in death by three sisters and three brothers, but is survived by Marcia McCumber of Hastings, Minn.; Daniel Janssen of Westlake Village, Calif. and Pastor Arlo Janssen of Benson, Ariz.
A service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, 11 a.m. at West Portal Lutheran Church (200 Sloat Blvd, San Francisco). He will be interred at Oakmont Memorial Park, Lafayette. Pastor Janssen requested that in lieu of flowers, remembrances be sent in his name to the Student Aid Endowment Fund at Concordia Seminary, 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, Mo 63105.