Elizabeth Garman Nissley, 79, of Lancaster, Pa., died Sept. 25, 2022, following a 21-month courageous journey with breast cancer. She was born June 30, 1943, to Ruth F. and Elam O. Landis of East Petersburg.
She graduated from the Lancaster General School of Nursing in 1964, the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1970 and a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing in 1989, and Eastern Mennonite Seminary with a master of divinity degree in 2002.
She lived and worked as a nurse and educator for nine years in Somalia between 1966 and 1986. She worked as a psychiatric nurse and an outpatient therapist with Philhaven and later as a full-time pastor, retiring from James Street Mennonite Church in 2013. She was the first ordained woman (in 2007) in Lancaster Mennonite Conference, which was, at that time, part of Mennonite Church USA. She worked for nine years as a ministerial guide for seminary students at Lancaster Theological Seminary and as the acting field education director for one and a half years.
She volunteered on several community boards, including Friends of Lancaster Public Library, Landis Communities Quality Living Choices Board and Domestic Violence Services. She participated for several years as a co-facilitator, with husband Ken, with the Pennsylvania State Office of Victim Advocate.
She loved her family. She was an avid reader and enjoyed traveling and being with and listening to people. Her smile lit up a room. Full of gratitude for life’s goodness, she wanted to change the world, to make it better for herself and others, nurturing justice and kindness. She deeply believed in God close at hand with a love extending to all people. She was a voice for women in her community. She believed in the ongoing mystery and possibility of healing and recovery, in this life and with the end of life.
Survivors include her husband of 58 years, Kenneth M. Nissley; four children, K. Mark (Amanda) Nissley of Pensacola, Fla., Andrew J. Nissley of York, Rebecca J. Nissley of York and Sara B. (Andrew Peifer) Nissley of Philadelphia; nine grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Memorial services were held at James Street Mennonite Church, Lancaster.