Noted Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber Speaks At Rachel Held Evans Funeral

  • Saturday, June 1, 2019
  • John Shearer
A crowd of several hundred attendees mostly filled up the the lower level of First-Cententary United Methodist Church’s nave Saturday afternoon to pay tribute to noted Christian author Rachel Held Evans of Dayton, Tenn.

Not previously announced publicly, the main sermon during the 90-minute service was delivered by the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, the best-selling Christian author and noted speaker, who gained national attention as the former pastor of the well-known church, the House for all Sinners and Saints, in Denver. 

The Colorado church has garnered attention for uniquely reaching out to everyone from the LGBT community, to those battling drug addiction and depression.

During the sermon, Ms.
Bolz-Weber, a self-proclaimed recovering drug abuser known for wearing tattoos, related while wearing blue jeans under her robe the story from the Gospel of John of Jesus appearing shortly after the Resurrection. She compared this story of Mary Magdaline meeting Jesus in the darkness to the life of Ms. Evans.


Mrs. Evans, who had made the New York Times bestseller list for “A Year of Biblical Womanhood,” had grown up in Dayton and graduated from Bryan College, but she later broke from some of the fundamentalist Christian views she had been raised on and became supportive of the LGBT community.

She died at the age of 37 on May 4 after a severe reaction to medication while being treated for a flu-like illness.

Offering eulogies during the service were her former youth pastor, the Rev. Brian Ward, and her younger sister, Amanda Held Opelt of North Carolina, who also sang a song in tribute to her while playing her acoustic guitar. 

Other musicians performing during the Requiem Eucharist service were Audrey Assad and Solveig Leithaug. Jeff Chu gave the prayers of the people, and several scriptural readings were done.

Also officiating the service along with the Rev. Bolz-Weber was the Rev. Winnie Varghese, who is a priest and staff member at the well-known Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church in Manhattan. Rev. Varghese was the celebrant for Holy Eucharist.  

Rev. Bolz-Weber is an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor.

Mrs. Evans was not connected to First-Centenary UMC, but her family chose it to have a larger and suitable venue for her funeral. A number of First-Centenary members served as greeters and communion ushers, and associate minister the Rev. Will Lauderback welcomed funeral attendees at the start.

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