Reverend Eldonna Hazen

Eldonna L. Hazen is our Senior Minister.  Eldonna’s faith and life journey began in the small (population 500) village of Sterling, Nebraska, where her family’s Lutheran Church was a cornerstone of their lives.  Eldonna served as a teacher and leader in two careers before pursuing her call to pastoral ministry.  She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at Peru State College (the first public university in Nebraska) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  For ten years in Johnson, Nebraska, Eldonna taught both choral and instrumental music to students with a variety of skills, interests, and ages, from kindergarten through high school. 

 

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She then co-founded and was a leader for twelve years of a deli and restaurant, H.M.S. Brown Baggers, in Lincoln, Nebraska.  In that challenging and dynamic business, Brown Baggers succeeded through a focus on product quality, particularly its popular original recipe bread, and customer service.  Brown Baggers transformed the concept of “brown bag” lunch for its customers and also reacted to market opportunities, changing its focus from walk-in locations to catering lunch meetings.

Eldonna first felt a call to be a minister while she was in high school and college but believed, from the Church in which she practiced her faith, that being a minister and living a life true to her sexuality was not possible.  After struggling to live in a way acceptable to that limited view of God’s love for all people, she turned away from the Church and thoughts of ministry.  Eventually, she was led back to a nurturing congregation that enabled her to again feel assured of God’s love.  With the support of her minister and her partner Cathy Noth, she determined to answer her long-felt call to ministry and received her Master of Divinity degree in 2005 from a UCC seminary, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

Although looking for a full-time post and well settled in Minnesota, she and Cathy decided to respond to our call for a part-time Associate Minister in 2006, to join our strong Open and Affirming Congregation and to live in Madison where Cathy could also pursue her career as a volleyball coach and trainer.  Eldonna and Cathy have three children, Spencer, Aiden and Carlyn, and have come to love Madison as their home.

As an Associate Minister, Eldonna was involved in every aspect of our life together.  She has revitalized our pastoral ministry and come to know many of us very well.  Eldonna’s knowledge of our congregation was essential to the leadership team and the success of our Reach and Renew Campaign.  Eldonna has also been active in ecumenical and social justice issues in Madison, including the AIDS Network, Madison Area Urban Ministry, National Homeless Memorial Services, and United Way delegation on health and safe aging. 

Eldonna’s faith journey, education, and personal and work experiences have contributed to her preaching, leadership, teaching, and counseling skills, to her commitment to social justice and fairness for all people, to cultivation of fellowship with people of all ages and backgrounds, and to her openness to new ideas and efforts.  Those personal skills, beliefs, and practices make her a compassionate spiritual leader is helping us to expand our faith, witness, and mission.

On January 20, 2013, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to call Rev. Hazen as our Senior Minister.

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