Rev. Barbara Gadon bio
Rev. Barbara Gadon, Lead Minister
Email Rev. Barbara
Rev. Gadon joined Eliot as our Lead Minister in August, 2013. She was raised in a small town near Minneapolis, Minnesota, and brings a Midwestern sensibility: a strong sense of populism, an appetite for substance, and an unpretentious warmth and friendliness. Humor is important to her. She says, “If you can’t laugh, you are in the wrong church.” She is eager to explore with us the next great chapter in our life.
Rev. Gadon earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics from the University of Minnesota, with a focus on writing and feminist studies. She earned her Masters of Divinity at Meadville/Lombard Theological School in Chicago’s culturally diverse Hyde Park.
She brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm for Unitarian Universalist church life having served churches of all sizes over the past 17 years. She learned about the power of large, vibrant UU churches as intern and student minister for two UU churches in Northern Virginia. Under her leadership: a tiny fellowship in Ludington, Michigan, bought their first building and start their first formal religious education program. A fellowship on the Eastern Shore of Maryland grew from 60 to 95 members in five years, and began their journey to building a beautiful, new sanctuary. As an Associate Minister for a large congregation in Wilmington, DE, her leadership helped the church build its programs in pastoral care, small group ministry and adult religious education, and to weather a difficult transition after the departure of its Senior Minister. Most recently, she has served as Interim Senior Minister for the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, helping them to revitalize music and worship.
In her ministry, she brings a deep love of worship and preaching as primary sources of energy for a congregation. She is interested in promoting deep conversation and shared purpose across differences of age, race and religious belief, both in the church and in the wider community. She is committed to her own spiritual practices of prayer, meditation and study, and enjoys introducing these to Unitarian Universalists. The daughter of a long-time public school teacher, she is a passionate supporter of public schools. She feels that churches need to join forces with partners in the community to make a difference. The church needs to learn how to minister to people in the 21st century, and invites Eliot Chapel members and friends to engage in this learning together.
She is married to Robert Gadon, an instructor of Iyengar yoga, garden designer and web designer. They enjoy playing Scrabble, exploring new restaurants and museums, and going to the movies. She enjoys making collage, writing and reading; to keep fit, she practices Zumba, cardio kick-boxing and R & B line dancing.
Welcome from Rev. Barbara:
“If your heart is full of fear, you won’t seek truth; you’ll seek security. If a heart is full of love, it will have a limbering effect on the mind.” – William Sloane Coffin
Real love requires so much from us - patience, time, and energy. Reading a child the same story for the 45th time because she loves it. Real love requires forgiveness - your friend makes a thoughtless remark and it hits you in just the wrong spot on just the wrong day and you just…can’t. Then you draw a deep breath, tell them why it hurt and if you’re lucky, they say they’re sorry and you forgive them. And real love asks us to have courage. What made it possible for you to speak up about the hurt in the first place, if not courage? What makes it possible for you to watch a child – of any age - experience rejection, illness or injury, knowing fully that there’s so much you can’t protect them from? When I conduct weddings, I will usually say, “One day one of you will die before the other. Either we are so foolish that we pretend this won’t happen, or we are so brave that we love anyway. My prayer for you and for me and for everyone, is that we can be so brave.” To truly love, then, you need to cultivate courage.
A church is a community that will help you with that. If you are exploring Eliot Unitarian Chapel, and considering if we might become your spiritual home, I encourage you to think of us this way. Look at our programs, particularly worship and covenant groups. They are primary ways that newcomers become part of the community. But in everything we do, we hope to help people practice courageous love.
The mission of Eliot Unitarian Chapel states: Bound by courageous love, growing in spirit and inspiring compassionate action. Our mission begins with courageous love! This year, we are going to explore what this means as a community. Certainly we are here for one another when we need help with courage in our personal lives.
We also must love courageously as a body. There’s a special term for this kind of community that loves courageously, that shares a mission with possible risks and even dangers: it’s communitas. A communitas forms a unique bond. It changes friends into comrades. This community has been teaching me about this since the day I arrived three years ago. A communitas brings both joy and pain. It is what being a church is really about. I am excited and honored, once again, to take this path with you.
Yours in faith and service,