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Rev. Jen Nagel

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • she/her/hers

Ministry setting

University Lutheran Church of Hope

What brings you joy in your ministry?

I love watching change and growth happen. Within and between individuals, in community, between congregations, all over the place... the Holy Spirit is at work.

I served for a dozen years at Salem English in south Minneapolis and experienced the awe at creating a cool three way (ELCA, UCC, DOC) ecumenical partnership and shared ministry center. After years in the wilderness (worshipping in a dance studio, a graffiti clad theater, and an art gallery) Salem and the other congregations settled into SpringHouse Ministry Center, renovated, sustainable, and full of all the growth of a shared life and ministry. That long and Spirit-led process of transformation brought great joy.

In the summer of 2015, I concluded ministry at Salem and accepted the call to serve as Lead Pastor at University Lutheran Church of Hope, in Dinkytown on the edge of the U of M campus in Minneapolis. Here I’m finding great joy witnessing this community find new and renewed ways to deepen spirituality and worship (there is such energy) and to reach out to the university and neighborhood at our door steps. We’re grappling with how to make our walls “porous”.

Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?

The people of God, gracious souls, saints and sinners, every day.

What are your interests outside of ministry?

Family, adventures, reading, walking, biking, hiking, canoeing, traveling, eating good food, spending time with good friends. Really, parenting our 7 year old and 2 year old daughters is the joy and challenge that occupies much of my heart and time, and brain capacity.

Best meal you've ever eaten?

Hm... this changes often, for I love to eat, and as the garden produces my beloved just keeps cooking up treats... Thanks be to God!

Brief bio

Rev. Jen Nagel has served at Salem English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis for 10 years, beginning first as Pastoral Minister during a long interim period. On January 19, 2008 (on a frighteningly cold winter day), Jen was ordained at Salem in an extra-ordinary ordination, and in September 2010 she was welcomed onto the ELCA clergy roster.

Jen grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota. She holds an M.Div. from University of Chicago-Divinity School, completed work at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and has a B.A. from Concordia College, Moorhead Minnesota. She’s served at Central Lutheran Church and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, in Africa, Chicago, Michigan, and outdoor ministry settings. Jen currently serves as Dean of Central Conference of the Minneapolis Area Synod and is active in ISAIAH faith based community organizing. She is trained as an Intentional Interim Pastor and has focused on re-development and transformational ministry. Previously she served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and as a Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.

Jen’s spouse, Rev. Jane McBride, is pastor at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, United Church of Christ, near the University of Minnesota in Southeast Minneapolis. Jen, Jane, and their young daughters live in north Minneapolis.

Did you always want to be clergy?

Yes, and also a doctor, a journalist, and a biomedical engineer. When I was in 8th grade as I washed tables after an ecumenical Thanksgiving Dinner in the basement of our local small-town Catholic Church, my Sunday School teacher and friend, Mary, declared: "You should really think about being a pastor." I'd been talking with an older woman in a dated greenish polyester pants suit, and Mary's observation surprised me... and stuck with me. I could be a doctor, or a journalist, or a whole variety of things, but in ministry I found I was able to use the breadth and width of my gifts best. All that before I'd come to understand myself as GLBTQ. Now, that's another story.

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