Meet The Pastor: Shawn Brandon, Gloria Dei! Lutheran Church


The Severna Park Voice is helping the community learn about the pastors at the many churches in the area. This month, we got to know the Rev. Shawn Brandon from Gloria Dei! Lutheran Church.

How long have you been at Gloria Dei!?

I came to Gloria Dei! Lutheran Church in February of 2014 after having lived in Washington, D.C. for five years and in Minnesota for nearly 40 years.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a pastor?

Having not grown up with any particular faith tradition, I was drawn more deeply into faith and into the church when, after having graduated from college with a music degree, I was hired as a choir director in a Lutheran church. After serving various churches in the areas of music and education and then serving as a secretary to a bishop, I sensed the call to serve in word and sacrament ministry and, following seminary, was ordained in 2003.

What is your favorite thing about being a pastor?

As with most Lutheran pastors, favorite things about ministry include stewarding the mysteries of God’s grace and love known in Jesus with all people as experienced, especially through the word of God and through the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. Gathering with the people of God for worship, learning, fellowship and service is such a joy. It is also a deep privilege to accompany folks in the midst of some of their greatest joys and celebrations as well as in those seasons of life that would otherwise be unbearable without a family of faith with whom to bear one another’s burdens. And, of course, singing with all the saints all the songs!

Can you tell me about a moment in your life where your faith grew?

While singing in a Christmas concert at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, I heard a piece of choral music by Paul J. Christiansen titled “Thy Kingdom Come.” The piece intertwined the choir singing, the reading of passages of scripture and the praying of petitions of the prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace). I recall this as the moment I truly heard the gospel, the good news about Jesus and about God’s love for all people and God’s desire for peace, justice, and well-being for all people.

Do you cook? What is your favorite meal?

I do cook. But it’s a pretty limited menu in that, being from the woods and waters of Minnesota, I don’t really venture much beyond my understanding of a meal: meat, potato and vegetable. And given my Norwegian heritage, the less spice the better. Salt and pepper is OK in great moderation.

If you’re not at church or at home, where could we probably find you?

If I’m not at home, church or an estate sale, I am likely walking the paths of the Bay Hills neighborhood of the peninsula. I can also be found kayaking on the Severn River!

Did you pick up any quarantine projects or hobbies?

One month before the pandemic hit, my husband and I adopted a beagle/terrier mix named Lola from the Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare rescue program. She has been such a blessing this past year and a half as she trained us pretty well in being her people.

What's a fun fact about you that most people don’t know?

I both grew up and served for seven years as a pastor in Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota - the northernmost county in the contiguous United States. It’s also known as the walleye capital of the world!

Do you follow sports? What is your favorite team?

If someone asks if I watched the latest Ravens game, I respond, “I don’t follow baseball,” as an indication of my level of interest in sports. Except curling! Curling was my sport of choice in high school (though it’s been a while since I released or swept a rock).

What is an item on your “bucket list” that you haven’t checked off, but really want to?

Visiting the Taize community in France is something I have wanted to do for a long time. It is the source of such beautiful and contemplative music which we often use in worship. I suspect being immersed in the community’s worship and music life would be a deeply spiritual experience. I also hope to visit Scotland someday!

What is your favorite type of music to listen to?

My favorite type of music to listen to and sing is choral music. However, I am also a big fan of classic rock from the ‘70s and music from the ‘80s. I just found the first album released by the Eagles and am pretty excited about that! Given my deep love of music, however, I can find something to appreciate in just about every genre.

What is the best thing about Gloria Dei!?

When I arrived at Gloria Dei! I found a family in faith that I described as radically welcoming, deeply spiritual and intensely serving. It is a description I continue to use today. The congregation welcomed me and my husband (obviously not something every congregation would do) and, in fact, welcomes all no matter what their family looks like or where they are on their faith journey. It is a reflection of the radical welcome to God’s love, strength and leading that Jesus embodied for all people.

Worship and music are integral to the congregation’s spirituality, which clearly resonates with me. And there are just so many ways in which this congregation lives out its mission to be the hands and heart of Jesus for one another, our community and the world. Of course, being located in this most lovely part of God’s creation known as Maryland and among the people of this place is also a very good thing about Gloria Dei! Lutheran Church. We are blessed! And it is an incredible blessing for me personally to serve this congregation, which, as its name implies, does everything for the sake of God’s glory and for which I continuously say – thanks be to God!


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