The Hillcrest Lutheran Academy Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Rev. Brad Hoganson as the school’s next President. Brad will assume his new role July 1, 2017. In his selection, the HLA Board chose someone who has long and deep roots at Hillcrest. Pastor Brad graduated from Hillcrest in 1984, followed by serving on the resident life staff in the late-80's and early-90's, and then again for another stint in the early-00’s while in Fergus Falls to pursue Lutheran Brethren Seminary training. Pastor Brad sat down with HLA staff to share thoughts about his new leadership position at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy:
"I distinctly remember where I was sitting at Bethel Lutheran Church (in Fergus Falls)," Pastor Brad started, after being asked what influence Hillcrest had on his calling into ministry. "The speaker was talking from Isaiah 6 and I felt the overwhelming weight of my sin." Brad described the scene in Bethel...sanctuary lights dim as his gaze lifted from the speaker at the podium to the lofty ceiling which holds -- suspended in air -- a massive cross over the speaker's head. The memory of the sermon was obviously crisp as Brad continued, explaining the atonement for sin in the Isaiah story before focusing on the life-changing moment he experienced in Hillcrest's mission conference in 1983. "There, the question was asked, 'Who will go?', and I remember responding that my answer absolutely had to be, ‘me’."
Pastor Brad describes himself as shy and awkward in high school, struggling to fit in. But he credits God with using his time at Hillcrest to transform him from that quiet, insecure boy to an assured young man who walked across the stage to receive his Hillcrest diploma in 1984. "At Hillcrest, I found a place that allowed me to be me... to really to come into myself and find lifelong friendships. I became more confident as a young man, and also in my faith."
As Brad continued, his memories gingerly shifted from his life-altering experience in the mission conference to the simple rhythms he engaged at Hillcrest. "Right away at Hillcrest, I remember being blown away when my teacher said, 'We're not gonna start class until we pray.'"
Those prayer times in the classroom set the table for Brad's spiritual growth and development as he started to explain the the intellect developed 30-some years ago. "Mr. Undseth, introducing me to C.S.Lewis, and Mr. Arlton, revealing the magnificence of God's Creation; Steve Brue, inviting us over for pizza to talk; Al and Carol Aase, just visiting and talking and processing life; those things were just absolutely formative."
The shared interactions from the classroom setting also stirred up memories from his dormitory life experience. He recalled nights when he would sneak around the dorms under the nose of resident life staff members like Kevin Patch and Craig Mathison, doing his best not to disturb their sleep. If successful in dodging his deans, he would grab Mountain Dew and talk sports with Nick Mundis and Jim Soholt. Their nighttime conversations often shifted from three pointers and touchdowns to matters relating to God and His Kingdom.
Brad explained the importance of Hillcrest’s Biblical founding as the conversation continued, saying Hillcrest's emphasis on a Biblical-base for learning gives relevance to Hillcrest’s Lutheran roots, landing with a capstone of Hillcrest's mission statement. He said a Biblical view, with a Lutheran emphasis of law and gospel that highlights God’s grace is a Hillcrest tradition "that helps young people first be called into a relationship with Jesus Christ, seeing their need for a savior, and then responding in faith. Then, in obedience, serve as a missionary people. And if you start marinating on that in high school, then you see the Biblically-centered purpose and mission of our Lutheran perspective, in having a worldview like the men of Issachar, who knew the times and what Israel was supposed to do. And there is some real power in that, equipping them for a life of eternal significance."
Brad and his wife Traci will move to Fergus Falls this summer. Brad and Traci’s daughter, Shea, completed her first year of college at Kean University this year. Their son, Camden, will begin his Junior year at Hillcrest this fall, as Brad begins serving as the President of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on July 1.