Meet our Staff!

Rev. Ernest B. Sheldon

Rev. Ernest B. Sheldon


Pastor Rev Ernest B. Sheldon is from Fortville, Indiana. Upon graduating from high school, Pastor Ernie served the next twenty years in Army Special Operations (Green Berets). While in the Army, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Campbell University.

He retired from the Army in 1997 to attend Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated with a Master’s degree in Divinity in 2001. He has served a number of congregations in North and South Carolina and has been at St. John’s since 2013. 

Pastor Ernie lives in Bermuda Run with his wife of 38 years, Jan. They have two children, Bryan and Emily, two grandchildren, Ollie and Sawyer, and a cat named Carolina. Pastor Ernie enjoys golf, travel, cooking on his big green egg, NASCAR, and all UNC sports.   

Susan Free

Susan Free

Church Administrator

Susan Free has been a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church since birth. She was one of the first group of babies that were baptized when the “new” Church was built. Working with the youth of St. John’s for 19 years was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life. She is always thrilled to see what the kids are doing with their lives or seeing them when they come back to visit. They had some awesome experiences going on retreats, to conferences, and on mission trips. She can even tell you which carpets were the softest to sleep on in the halls during lock-ins.

Susan’s “real” profession was teaching school. She received her teaching degree from Appalachian State University and her Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. During her 33 years in education, she taught every grade from 2nd to 10th. Susan retired from teaching in 2012 but came back as a substitute in 2014.

Darin Kennedy

Darin Kennedy

Organist and Choirmaster

Born and raised in Concord, North Carolina, Darin lives in harmony with his parents, best friend, Nicholas, and Jackson, their one hundred fifty pound Great Dane. Out in rural North Carolina, Darin finds peace in being around animals, nature, and anything the Lord’s hands have made.

As a child, Darin’s family attended an Episcopal church in downtown Charlotte where he was completely mesmerized by the organ. He inquired about organ lessons but was told his legs had to grow longer first so he could reach the pedals. While waiting, he joined The Choir School, a rigorous music program rooted in the Anglican choral tradition. This choral program took Darin on over ten cross country, week-long choir tours singing for many churches along their routes, as well as traveling on two overseas choir residencies – Salisbury Cathedral and St. Albans Cathedral in England where the choristers sang daily services and concerts. After twelve years, he graduated with a gold ribbon feeling so gracious that he was able to experience such a journey. The Choir School at St. Peter’s as well as Musical Heirs, another choir experience for homeschoolers, granted Darin incredible opportunities to love and appreciate traditional choral music. He then went on to assume an Associate Degree in Fine Arts, with an emphasis in Organ Performance.

Darin has been Organist and Choirmaster of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Statesville since Fall of 2019. Since assuming his position, his focus has steadily been congregational singing, and infusing The Word of God with melodies, which is the heart of the church. Equally included in that is the St. John’s Choir, which Darin has the honor of teaching every Wednesday. Together, Darin and the choir strive to lead the congregation in song, and above all, to use our music to worship the Lord.

Our Mission & Vision

St. John's is a Christ-Centered, Mission-Driven Community.

We believe that the mission of the Church is to preach the Gospel and to make disciples for Christ. We believe that making disciples — in our congregations, in our communities and nations, and around the world — must be a priority of the Church in the present age.