Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

April 26, 2023
Leading the Congregation

Pastor Traci Hardell takes the helm at Mountain of Faith Lutheran Church 

After pastor Rick Ehrheart retired earlier this year, Traci Hardell, a resident of Sandy and a nurse, took over as pastor of Mountain of Faith Lutheran Church in Tooele City.

Hardell, the church’s first female pastor, was installed in February.

“I’ve been a nurse forever and I fully expected to retire eventually from nursing,” Hardell said. “I never expected to be a pastor, but the Lord called me to ministry.”

Hardell has worked as a nurse for over 37 years, but one day she said she heard God call her to become a pastor.

“One night I was walking into a church I was attending, into a Bible study that I was going to attend, and I heard this voice saying that I need to be doing more than this,” Hardell explained. “It wasn’t my voice, and I thought, ‘Wow, what on earth? That was crazy.’ I knew the Lord called me to be a nurse, so at that point, I thought maybe God wanted me to learn more about the Bible, so I was going to go back to school again and get a certificate in Bible studies or something like that. Then several weeks later, I was in church listening to my pastor at that time and really focusing on his sermon, and again the voice came. It said this is what I needed to be doing. It was very obvious the Lord was telling me that I needed to be a pastor in a church. It was very clear.”

After accepting her calling, Hardell enrolled in a master’s degree program of divinity, a degree that most Lutheran pastors obtain, during the summer of 2022. Then, she felt called to visit Mountain of Faith Lutheran Church in Tooele.

“I came out at the end of last summer to hear our former pastor preach,” she said. “I wanted to hear his preaching style and I felt really at home here and welcomed by the congregation. I thought maybe in a year or two, I would come back and do an internship or something like that as part of my program.”

After attending for a while, Hardell called Ehrheart and told him she would like to learn more about the church.

“My husband and I were supposed to meet him and his wife for dinner, but he was called out of town,” Hardell said. “I ended up having a conversation with him and his wife on the phone and he said, ‘You know, someone is going to have to preach and fill in,’ and he was like, ‘Maybe you could help out.’ I said I had only just started seminary and I would have to think and pray about it.”

After much prayer, Hardell entered into a rotation with a few other individuals from the church preaching while Ehrheart was away.

“I got to know the congregation and I really felt at home here,” she said. “The people here are wonderful, faithful people … I felt so welcomed.”

Because Hardell enjoyed preaching so much and the congregation liked her, she decided to start working part-time as a nurse and part-time as an intern pastor at the church around Christmas 2022.

In February, it was obvious that Ehrheart needed to retire, so Hardell was installed as the church’s new pastor.

“I did not expect to be doing this at this point in my career, but God has blessed me and my husband so much throughout our lives, so how could I say no?” Hardell asked.

Hardell preaches every Sunday at 10 a.m. at the church located at 560 S. Main Street in Tooele.

Prior to the service, there is an adult and children’s bible study at 9 a.m.

She, along with her congregation, believe in the Bible, she said.

“Scripture is our main doctrine,” she said. “We believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that believer’s sins are fully forgiven by Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection.”

Each Sunday, congregants sing hymns and a few contemporary songs.

Along with preaching, Hardell works during the week to put together sermons, selects the music the congregation will sing, visits sick members, provides counseling, and performs baptisms, funerals, and marriage ceremonies.

She is also a member of the church’s council, who meet often to plan for future church activities and the direction of the church as a whole.

Hardell wants to start a new Bible study at the church soon.

So far, Hardell has enjoyed getting to know the members of her congregation and sharing the Bible with whoever she can.

She also enjoyed inviting members of the community to Easter services by handing out craft baskets made by her and members of the church.

The most difficult aspect of her new job has been managing her time.

For now, it is possible for Hardell to work part-time as a nurse, part-time as a pastor, and work on her degree.

“If we eventually grow to the point where they need a full-time pastor, I would probably stop nursing or maybe do some volunteer work in nursing,” she said.

Hardell said she has been completely accepted as a female pastor by her congregation and members of the community.

“I have always been supported as a Christian woman in leading Bible studies and that sort of thing, so when I came to this church, I asked how people would respond to that,” she said. “I have been wonderfully welcomed as a female pastor. I think between being a woman and having empathy and caring skills from being a nurse, I can love the people of the congregation and I have a slightly different perspective as a female pastor. I think the congregation is enjoying that.”  

Hardell was born and raised in Pennsylvania. There she became a pediatric nurse.  

“I started out in college as a chemistry major,” she said. “The chemical part of how the body works has always been fascinating to me, but I was really drawn to caring for people, and my mother was a nurse, so combining those two led me into nursing.”

“I love nursing how you can care for so many different types of people,” she continued. “There are so many different opportunities. I’ve cared for preemies all the way up to geriatrics. I’ve done administration, teaching, and I’ve loved it all. It’s an incredible profession.”

In her 20s, her parents relocated to Utah, so she followed. A short while later, she met her husband and had a son.

“We’ve been here over 30 years and we love it in Utah,” she said.

In her free time, Hardell enjoys visiting the beach. She also enjoys spending time with her family and oil painting. Her favorite things to paint are landscapes or ocean views.  

Her favorite Bible verse is John 3:16. She also loves the book of Romans in the New Testament.

Hardell wants to invite community members to her church.

“Our church has a very relaxed and welcoming atmosphere,” she said. “If you come to our church, you will always have someone to say hi to you. You will feel welcome whether you want to dress up or wear your jeans and boots.”

To learn more, please follow Mountain of Faith on Facebook or online at


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