Phil Hardt was raised Methodist in Connecticut, but when he hit high school, the pressures of playing for the varsity hockey team in a hockey town got in the way of his faith for a while.
He found that the elevated status he had become so accustomed to in high school was taken out from under him, and in college he found that he was out of his league on the ice.
After that realization, Hardt turned his attention to writing and moved to the Lower East Side with a friend where he pursued his newfound passion for a while before feeling again that he was out of his depth. He remembers going home for a holiday meal with his family and telling his father that he felt like a failure, but his father told him, “Don't be silly, you're too young to be a failure.”
Still that didn't stop the feelings of despair, and Hardt soon found himself on a prescription of tranquilizers. At that point, he said, he hit rock bottom.
“I got down on my knees and said, 'Whoever you are and wherever you are come and help me,'” he recalls. “It was the first time I ever prayed in my own words.”
From there, Hardt began the long journey of realigning his life, pursuing the ministry and seeking a flock to lead.
It was after a wedding in his hometown in 1970 that he began in ernest on his pilgrim's journey, and shortly after joined a seminary where he took four years to complete a three-year degree.
“I wanted to be sure it was God's calling for me to join the ministry,” Hardt said.
He followed that degree with a PhD in Theology from Fordham University, and found his flock in the Glendale United Methodist Church.
In 2006, his church grew unexpectedly to become the Glendale-Maspeth United Methodist Church when a tragic fire nearly burned the Maspeth Methodist Church to the ground.
Now, along with his wife Vineeta, Hardt continues to nurture the local Methodist community through regularly scheduled sermons, as well as through events such as the upcoming screening of the film God is Not Dead on Saturday, September 20.