In May, Hillcrest Lutheran Academy announced Rev. Brad Hoganson as its new president. A few weeks later, Faith & Fellowship had the opportunity to interview Rev. Hoganson and hear his passion for the ministry of HLA.
F&F: Tell us about yourself, your family, and your employment history.
Brad: My family might be the best thing about me! I am married to my beautiful and talented wife of 22 years, Traci. Together we have two amazing children. Our daughter Shea (19) attends Kean University, where she is pursuing a Teaching Children With Disabilities major with a minor in History. Our son Camden (16) will be a junior at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in the fall.
I am a graduate of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy (1984), Lutheran Brethren Bible College (1988) and Lutheran Brethren Seminary (2003). I have been fortunate to work in ministry most of my life: at Tuscarora Inn, Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania (both summer work and full-time staff); later in youth ministry in Olympia and Everett, Washington, then Mount Bethel, PA and finally Marysville, WA. In Marysville I also served as associate pastor and later as lead pastor. I most recently served as associate pastor at my home church, Hillside LBC in Succasunna, New Jersey. I have served in various roles in the CLB over the years—on the Synodical Council and the Council of Directors, served as chair on the boards of Youth Ministry and North American Mission, and am currently chair of Fifth Act Church Planting, an affiliate ministry of the CLB that exists to plant Lutheran Brethren churches in global cities of North America.
I love to keep busy with home and do-it-yourself projects. I love to laugh with my family and friends, and I live for Taco Tuesdays (which will be a continuing tradition in Fergus Falls!).
F&F: Tell us about your mentors. What have you learned about leadership from them?
Brad: While I don’t think I have ever been in a “formal” mentoring relationship with any of them, I am grateful to have had a host of people in my life who taught me about leadership from my earliest days.
I learned about servant leadership and team-leading from Allen Aase and from Herb and Helen Jacobsen while working alongside others at Tuscarora Inn. Reidar Senum taught me humility with a twinkle in his eye as he showed me how to take ministry seriously while not taking myself too seriously! While at Bible College, Don Brue helped nurture in me a love for the Word of God and Jim Bjork showed me how to do incarnational ministry among students. Later, as a young pastor I learned from Joel Egge about shepherding a church with a love for the life-giving gospel and love for the Church. I have had capable and godly elder boards who prayed with me and for me, who offered biblical counsel and support and showed me the value of teamwork. Stephen and Sandi Bickler helped instill in me and foster a love for people in distant lands, which I think will play a large part in my leadership at Hillcrest with their international students.
F&F: What excites you about your new position as President of HLA?
Brad: A lot! I just returned home from the graduation weekend and my heart is full with anticipation to get to work as President of HLA. There are many things that energize me as I view this new chapter: I’m looking forward to working together with a remarkable team of administrators, faculty and staff! It was a real joy to watch them serve together over grad weekend and I look forward to being part of the team. From support staff, resident life staff, faculty and administrators—I want everyone in the CLB to know what a gift this group of people is to our school! I love students and I love to see them grow and flourish in the gospel and in love for each other. I am really looking forward to speaking into their lives, so that they in turn can serve Christ.
I’m looking forward to working in collaboration with the greater CLB. I love to work together to achieve common goals and want to explore ways that Hillcrest and the CLB can work together. We have a gift in our rich theology and our mission heart for the world. Hillcrest is a great place to instill this in our students while providing them opportunities to serve locally and globally.
F&F: Why is Hillcrest’s ministry important to you, and why should it be important to us?
Brad: Hillcrest’s mission statement says it all: “The mission of Hillcrest Academy is to equip students in a Christ-centered, Bible-based environment for a life of eternal significance.” This is what I have been working toward in my life of ministry within the local church. Local churches want this to be true of the students in their youth ministry programs. The people of our churches invest in our students with youth groups, and with opportunities to go to camps and retreats, desiring to see our students come to faith and flourish in the gospel.
This ministry is important to me because I see Hillcrest and the CLB churches working in concert with each other toward a shared goal. Hillcrest is uniquely positioned to do this while providing a distinctly Christian education. Discipleship opportunities are built into the daily life experience of the school in the dorms and classrooms.
Additionally, the heartbeat of the CLB from its earliest days has been that we are a missionary Church. Hillcrest shares that heart for global mission: students from Hillcrest have opportunity to go on annual cross-cultural mission trips to the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, and students from other cultures all over the world come to attend school at Hillcrest.
F&F: Are there any particular goals you have for your first 100 days in office?
Brad: In my first 100 days as President of Hillcrest, I plan to change my presidential Twitter name to @realBradHoganson, but I will do my best to keep my tweets to a dull roar!
Seriously though, I am humbled and honored to serve in this role as President of Hillcrest. I believe my first few months will be spent listening and learning the ropes of the job, while building relationships with the faculty, staff and students.
Isaac Newton famously said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The role of the HLA president encompasses many components. Among them is helping shape a vision for the future of the school. As I work together with the Board of Directors, I am well aware of those who have gone before and I plan to build on the foundations that are already in place. I am excited to work together with CLB President Paul Larson and the CLB Council of Directors, helping to foster deepening partnerships with the congregations of the CLB, while working together with alumni and friends who support the work at Hillcrest to find the best ways to communicate our vision and mission.
Rev. Brad Hoganson is President of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.