Nagel '94 elected new bishop of Minneapolis Area Synod

Jen Nagel talks to voting members of the Minneapolis Area Synod

Concordia College alumna Jen Nagel ‘94 was recently elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Minneapolis Area Synod. 

Nagel currently serves as the lead pastor at University Lutheran Church of Hope in Minneapolis. Previously, she served as a pastor at Salem English Lutheran, Minneapolis; as chaplain at Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis; and as leader in outdoor ministry, campus ministry, and global ministry (Zimbabwe and Zambia). 

The Minneapolis Area Synod is the nation's largest ELCA Synod based on population. 

As bishop, Nagel will be responsible for thinking widely about the ELCA’s mission and building community within other denominations, the local area, and the ELCA as a bigger church with relationships in Germany and Nigeria. 

“I hope that the church will continue to be a healthy church where people are fed and nurtured. I want congregations and leaders to feel like they are supported in the risky, brave, and good ministry that’s out there,” Nagel said. 


Written by Alyssa Czernek '25

One of her main goals is to strengthen relationships as they cross race and economic diversity and engage more with the youth and young adults. 

Nagel on a Mission in San Lucas Toliman Guatemala. The trip was shared between her congregation and First Congregational UCC. 

Nagel earned her Bachelor of Arts in religion and classics from Concordia and a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School. 

“Concordia was a really important grounding place for me. It’s a place where I learned how to think widely and was nurtured by faculty,” she said. “Concordia also was important to strengthening and growing my faith.” 

Before being elected as the next bishop, Nagel served on the Board of Regents at Concordia for eight years. Former President William Craft was the one to suggest the position to her. 

“It’s been really inspiring to watch the regents, many of whom have been around a lot longer than I have, think about how to do right by the college and look toward the future,” Nagel said. 

The Board of Regents consists of up to 30 members who oversee major college initiatives.

“It’s been special to watch a place I love and care for take the steps into the next future,” she added. 

Magel will be installed on September 21 at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. The Rev. Ann M. Svennungsen, also a Cobber graduate, will retire at the end of July after serving as bishop since 2012. 

Svennungsen was a recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award in 2019. 

“She's been my bishop for all these years,” Nagel said. “That's been fun to watch. It's a fun coincidence that we both are Cobbers!”


Photos courtesy of Minneapolis Area Synod and Jen Nagel