Meet the Deputation: The Rev. Rick Swenson

Meet the Deputation: The Rev. Rick Swenson

Name: Rick Swenson

Faith Community: Priest-in-Charge, St. Paul's, Duluth

Number of General Conventions attended: 2 as alternate (sat as deputy at one)

Official role(s) at General Convention: Clergy delegate

1) Why did you choose to serve as a deputy to General Convention and what do you hope to accomplish or experience there? 
I have served before as deputy or alternate to General Convention and found the experience rewarding as an opportunity to network with others throughout the Episcopal Church and to participate in the process of making decisions and formulating policy and visions affecting the Church and its mission and ministries. I have numerous particular interests, primary among which is the changing reality of the Church in the world in which we live. The Church and the individual worshipping communities as I knew them growing up no longer exists in many significant respects.  How we adjust and support our smaller communities of faith throughout the Episcopal Church will determine how relevant we as the Episcopal Church remain in the future spiritual life of our communities, our country, and the world.  Smaller faith communities need the support of the entire church if we are to remain vibrant conveyors of the Gospel and faithful and effective workers in God's vineyard.

2) What gifts and passions do you bring to this ministry? How has serving in this
way transformed you?

I believe I bring significant experience working in smaller congregations and knowing their context and their particular challenges and needs. Working in these settings has brought me back to the "basics" and importance of spiritual practices and the fundamental importance of individual relationships in all of our ministries. One of my passions as we develop policies and practices for smaller congregations involves a strong desire to see more emphasis on ecumenical efforts involving our Episcopal Church congregations and the faith communities of our fellow denominations, particularly those of the ELCA. I would like to see more joint ministries fostered and developed between Episcopal Church congregations and ELCA congregations, even to the extent of encouraging and developing joint worship opportunities and shared ministries.
3) How do you see the work of General Convention connecting to the ministry
of ECMN?

General Convention is the governing body that, through its decisions, both policy and financial, affects the structures and ministry support throughout the entire Episcopal Church; and of course, thereby, affects ECMN and our vision and ministry and our ability to do the work we are called to do. One very important question I feel we must always consider as a church (and one I'm not always convinced we adequately consider) in making these decisions is: What is the theological grounding of the decisions we are making and the policies we are setting? The Episcopal Church does not have the same kind of structural "teaching authority" as do some of our sister denominations, and it is therefore incumbent upon everyone at General Convention and throughout the Episcopal Church to reflect theologically on the processes and decisions being considered and adopted and to come to consensus on the theological underpinnings of our decisions if possible. The governing process in the church must be more that "majority rule." It must reflect and support our call as disciples of Christ. These decisions and the theology upon which they rest profoundly affect not only ECMN but the entire Episcopal Church and how it prioritizes and carries out its numerous ministries and how faithful they (and we) are to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.