Rev. Barbara Gadon bio

Rev. Barbara Gadon, Lead MinisterBarbara installation
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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:

Dear Friends:
I am excited to begin my third year with Eliot Chapel as its lead minister. This is such an amazing congregation. 

It’s easy to think we are in this world alone.  We know how to be consumers, to think that our every need and desire must be gratified at once. Entire industries are built around stirring these needs and desires, and selling them back to us. We know how to be competitive, looking out only for ourselves in a world of scarcity, thinking that, as Bette Midler once sang, “love is only for the lucky and the strong.”  We are well trained to be cynical: to think that one person cannot make a difference.  
Practicing our faith is to practice the dangerous hope that we can be different. We can be neighbors and not consumers. We can find the path of making justice. We can be hopeful about change because we can become that change. But it takes practice, and it takes repeatedly coming together for refreshment and challenge. We become our best selves in community. That is what Unitarian Universalism is about.
If you are investigating Eliot Chapel as your spiritual home, I invite you to read our principles and purposes, as well as the sources of our faith. Listen to some of our podcasts to see if the message resonates.  Check out all of our exciting programs to imagine the possibilities of love, service and meaning here for you.  And then visit on a Sunday morning! It’s meeting people and experiencing the buzz and warmth in our sanctuary that will tell you whether this is a community to feed your soul, warm your spirit and connect you to the holy. Meet some of the dear souls who could walk with you on your spiritual journey.

Yours in faith and service,  


Last Published: November 2, 2015 2:55 PM