Nadia Bolz-Weber

August 7, 2018

Nadia Bolz-Weber Steps Down as Pastor to be “Public Theologian”

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a tattooed, foul-mouthed pastor who gained celebrity status uncommon for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) clergy. A New York Times best-selling author and popular speaker on the Christian conference circuit, Bolz-Weber is trading in her infamous “Pastrix” title for “public theologian.”

Religion News Service (RNS) reported Bolz-Weber stepped down as pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints (HFASS), the ELCA-affiliated church she founded in Denver, to focus her attention on writing, speaking, and “increase her contact with secular audiences.”

“I was aware how dangerous it was for founders to stay too long,” Bolz-Weber told RNS about her decision to step down and elaborated, “the church still loves me, but I don’t think the church still needs me.” The compelling and controversial pastor led HFASS full-time as senior pastor until 2015, when she transitioned into a part-time role.

Bolz-Weber represents a unique variety of progressive Christianity that often leans on traditional doctrinal elements. “I’m actually a very orthodox Lutheran theologian,” Bolz-Weber once told the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly segment for PBS. In her sermons and writings, she regularly acknowledged sin, humanity’s innate brokenness, the need for confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation, and evil spiritual forces at work in this world. However, it is her unorthodox conclusions on sexual sin, hell, and public support for Planned Parenthood that earns the Religious Left’s admiration.

Perhaps it was Bolz-Weber’s traditional elements that helped her grow HFASS from a gathering of eight people in her living room in 2008 to roughly 500 congregants today, as RNS reported. Such growth–however gradual–for an ELCA congregation is impressive. Within the Rocky Mountain Synod, to which HFASS belongs, official ELCA data noted that out of the 167 congregations, 110 were designated “declining” during 2005-2010.

The latest ELCA membership reports are from 2016 and define HFASS as a “small” congregation with between 151-350 congregants. Weekly attendance shows 190 people on average, and the ELCA designated the congregation’s growth status as “stable.”

Whatever good came from Bolz-Weber’s traditional foundations, it will be interesting to see how the congregation fares under new leadership.

UPDATE: Bolz-Weber is succeeded by a gay Episcopalian priest, Rev. Reagan Humber, who is married to a drag queen known as “Fruitbomb.” IRD’s Jeffrey Walton provides more background on Humber here and is skeptical the results will end well.

7 Responses to Nadia Bolz-Weber Steps Down as Pastor to be “Public Theologian”

  1. Nick Stuart says:

    Ever notice these folks look like what you would expect them to look like?

    The liberal clergy are a caricature of themselves. It’s like living in the middle of a Chick tract.

    • Sarah Clark says:

      Perfectly said! Jack Chick pretty much designed her! And he would include the “$&#%!” coming out of her mouth…

  2. Dave Gingrich says:

    This evangelical Christian loves to listen to Nadia. I love her original thinking and iconoclast approach. Where she unfortunately misses the mark, it seems to me, is in cherry-picking Scripture. For all her thoughtfulness, she seems to fail to see you can’t accept only part of the Word and have the rest of the Word mean anything at all.

  3. Womba Son of Witless says:

    House for All Sinners and Saints (HFASS). Right.
    It’s pronounced “half-@ss” I kid you not.
    Somebody’s pulling our leg, folks.

  4. Jj says:

    Pastors cherry pick and sanitize the Scriptures all the time to make them suit middle class conformity
    She digs deep where Jesus would go

  5. Faye says:

    You liturgical high noses really need to calm down. Nadia is the voice this nation and this generation needs right now. Luther himself was all about calling out bullshit; remember where Lutherans come from: God-centered social justice. Jesus broke all the rules and pushed back on the corrupt, judgemental boundaries of his society, and Nadia’s doing the same. As a modern, theological voice, she brings a politically aware perspective that is very much needed. We need her. We don’t get to decide how God’s grace looks, and she is a very good sign that God is working to call out the bullshit.

  6. TAS says:

    Amen. Praise God for pastors like Nadia. She is a true follower of Jesus.

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