Born in Minneapolis on Dec. 2, 1946, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson graduated from Minnehaha Academy in 1964, and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Augsburg College in 1968. He was a Rockefeller Fellow at Union Theological Seminary 1968-69, received his master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1972, attended Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., 1973-74, and was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard University Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., in 1979.
Ordained in 1974, Hanson served as pastor at Prince of Glory Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, 1973-79; Edina Community Lutheran Church, Edina, Minn., 1979-88; and University Lutheran Church of Hope, Minneapolis, 1988-1995. He began serving as bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1995, and had been reelected to a second term as synodical bishop prior to his election as presiding bishop of the ELCA in 2001.
Hanson serves on the executive council of the Lutheran World Federation and the executive board of the National Council of Churches. He was president of the Minnesota Council of Churches from 1998-2000. At the time of his election as presiding bishop, he was serving as vice chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops. He is author of Faithful Yet Changing: The Church in Challenging Times (Augsburg Fortress Books).
Ione (Agrimson) Hanson is a licensed social worker. Most recently, she was director of social work at Minneapolis and St. Paul Children's Hospitals. The Hansons are the parents of Aaron, Alyssa, Rachel, Ezra, Isaac and Elizabeth, and grandparents to Naomi.