Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber To Exit Church After “Epic Dance Party With Red Velvet Cake”
Jul 3, 2018
No, not Jesus.
In her farewell letter to her Denver, Colo. congregation, Bolz-Weber quoted another bearded icon: Kenny Rogers. "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away. And know when to run."
"As I look at who you are, and what this congregation has grown into I am filled with wonder at what our God has done," Bolz-Weber wrote. "And so it is with a heart that is heavy with a lot of love, a little sadness and more than anything, an enormous amount of gratitude, that I say to you that my work as the founder of this church has now been completed."
Since she began the House for All Sinners and Saints out of her living room in 2008, Bolz-Weber fought against the notion of the "angry, capricious God with a killer surveillance system" she feared as a little girl. From the pulpit—and in her new MAKERS series Have a Little Faith—Bolz-Weber preaches her philosophy that religion allows for people to forgive assholes, discover strength in their vulnerability, and find compassion for the unemployed, the undocumented and the unimpressive.
Proudly showing off her tattoos as she uses colorful language that would make traditional church ladies gasp, Bolz-Weber admits that "all the things that make me seem 'not like a pastor' are what allow me to be certain people's pastor."
With more than 250 parishioners, the House for All Sinners and Saints has grown into a popular destination for the faithful from all walks of life. "My parish is a hot mess. It's a bunch of people who don't really belong in a church. The drag queens, the weirdos, and the gays, but then we have the baby boomers from the suburbs."
There was a point when Bolz-Weber counted herself as among the outsiders, abusing drugs and alcohol until she committed to getting sober at her first AA meeting. "It gave me a completely different view of God," she says. "I fell in love with Lutheran theology—this idea that we're all simultaneously sinner and saint, 100% of both all the time. The idea that nobody is worthy, and everyone is welcome."
That became the guiding principle of her work. "I had to start a church I'd be willing to show up to," Bolz-Weber says. "It's exhausting to be like, 'oh, I better watch what I say. Can't make that joke, don't talk about that part of my past—who's going to do that? To me, it felt really defiant to say, no, I think we can be a part of organized religion and do it on our terms."
Now Bolz-Weber is ready to end her run on her own terms, too. "I invite you to come to church for my farewell liturgy and what I can only assume will also be an epic dance party with red velvet cake," Bolz-Weber wrote in her farewell announcement. "Actually I invite you to church every Sunday before I leave – and every Sunday after I leave ... Seriously. Get your asses to church."
But don't worry, this isn't the last you'll see of the spunky feminist pastor. Although Bolz-Weber's time at House for All Sinners and Saints is up, she will continue her work at various speaking engagements across the country and will be releasing another book titled "Shameless: A Sexual Reformation," in 2019.
Read her full announcement below:
You've got to know when to hold 'em
know when to fold 'em
know when to walk away.
And know when to run.
As I look at who you are, and what this congregation has grown into I am filled with wonder at what our God has done. I am decidedly biased, but there is no other church I would rather be at or worship with. There is no other church that could make me believe as strongly as you do. No other church that sings better. No other church that laughs and loves better.
And so it is with a heart that is heavy with a lot of love, a little sadness and more than anything, an enormous amount of gratitude, that I say to you that my work as the founder of this church has now been completed. There is but one more thing for me as the founder to do – and that is to release it fully into your hands.
I'm no George Washington, but in the words of Hamilton:
"If I say goodbye, the church learns to move on
It survives me when I'm gone.
Like the scripture says,
"Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid"
My last Sunday at House for All Sinners & Saints will be July 8th.
I am not leaving to take another job. I am not leaving because of any reason other than the fact that it is my job as the founder to do so and I think it's the right time. I am leaving simply because my work here is done. I told Pastor Reagan this week that if he weren't so damn good at being the pastor of this church I'd stay longer, so really it's partly his fault.
So I invite you to come to church July 8th for my farewell liturgy and what I can only assume will also be an epic dance party with red velvet cake. Actually, I invite you to church every Sunday before I leave – and every Sunday after I leave (once a church planter always a church planter). Seriously. Get your asses to church. :)
I love this church. And I always will. It has been the greatest honor of my life to be its founder. And I believe in the strength of God's hands – the hands in which it has always been held.
**Correction: We mistakenly reported that House of All Sinners and Saints was located in Colorado Springs— the church is located in Denver.