In memory of Pastor Ihno Janssen

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
Pastor Janssen was well known as an affable, caring individual who constantly visited his parishioners, and was out in the community meeting people and attending events. Janssen thrived on helping others, and frequently left in the middle of the night to minister to whoever requested his services.

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.


Posted by John Pommon, a resident of another community
on Oct 30, 2013 at 10:20 pm

What a Class Act ~ a world-class gentleman, wonderful, kind-hearted spokesman and of course a brilliant pastor. I was introduced to 'Pastor Ihno' back in the mid-1970s. Pastor Janssen helped my family deal with marriage and mourning loved ones and was just plain helpful in so many ways. Over the years I had the pleasure of meeting his lovely beautiful wife, his warm-hearted and bright daughter and his really cool son Jonathan (who helped the family Pommon family while working for Tower Market.

Speaking of Tower Market, I remember one time while working in my Dad's liquor wine shop I bought a little extra world famous yet unknown Peanut Liquor. My father was a concerned with me that I would be "stuck" with this "specialty item" and that it would sit on the shelf forever.
Pastor Ihno used to stop by where I worked to pick up a few items always having an electric smile and great chuckle for all those that knew him in the store.
Ihno could tell I was in the dog-house with Pops over this 'special purchase' that I made.
Out of his shear kindness each time he visited the store he buy a few bottles (subsequently giving them away as gifts) He truly helped me get me off the hook with my Dad (who was my boss). Man . . what a guy!
Pastor Janssen will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Everyone that knew him loved his helpful advice.
I know how much his beautiful wife will miss him, but she can take comfort and strength from the wonderful family she and Pastor had together. I know their love will get her through this difficult time.

May God bless his soul and his wonderful family during this time and always.

John Pommon
Formerly w/Pommon's Tower Market
Twin Peaks
San Francisco

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