WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     westbrook — Pastor Stephanie Swanson of Walnut Grove will be starting a new chapter in the life of Trinity and Our Saviors Lutheran Churches in Westbrook and Dovray. Swanson took over the leadership of the two congregations as of October first.

    She is married to Pastor Chuck Swanson of Walnut Grove, he currently is pastor at English and St. Olaf Lutheran Churches at Walnut Grove. They have two children Sophia a freshman, and Sadie who is in second grade at Westbrook Walnut Grove School.

    Swanson was born and raised with two older brothers in Glenwood, her parents still live there but they do go to Arizona for the winter months.

    She started her post secondary education at the College  of St. Benedict near St. Cloud. Her intentions at the time were to pursue a degree in psychology and go into counseling as she felt at that time it was her calling.

    As she continued her education she became more interested in elective theology courses — she began to realize at some point that she had almost enough theology credits to pursue a major in that field along with her psychology major. At that time she realized that God was tugging at her heart, and she graduated from St. Benedict with majors in theology and psychology in 1993. During her college years there she met Chuck Swanson who she married  after graduation.

    While at St. Benedict and  after graduation she worked as a respite care provider for children and young adults, for four years. In 1995 she started her studies to become a Lutheran Minister at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

    During her time at Luther, she did an internship at Colton South Dakota. An interesting note about her internship was that she was the nineteenth intern to serve at the two point congregation. She noted that the congregation has been served by 37 interns over the past 37 years.

    She was ordained in August of 2000 at her  home congregation at Glenwood Lutheran Church. Her first regular call was to St. John Lutheran Church in Madison, South Dakota. During that time their daughter Sophia was  born.  

    In 2007 her husband Chuck completed his education at Luther Seminary and was ordained at St. John Lutheran in Madison. He was assigned to the western North Dakota Synod. They both then received calls from congregations in the far southwest corner of North Dakota. Pastor Chuck was assigned as a pastor sharing a  four point congregation at Bowman. She  accepted a part time call at three small congregations near Bowman. While in North Dakota their daughter Sadie was born.

    With parents who were having some medical issues, the Swansons wanted to be closer to their parents and sought a call with Chuck accepting a call to English and St. Olaf Lutheran churches in Walnut Grove. Stephanie decided to take a year off to help their girls  in transitioning to the surroundings  of a new community, school and friends.  

    Swanson then accepted an Interim call to Redwood Central Lutheran Parish, four churches based out  of Wabasso, a position she shared with Nita Parker. She was at that call until the present when she accepted the call to Trinity and  Our  Savior Lutheran congregations.

    Swanson anticipates that her first year will be a time to get to know the people and learn the ways and schedules of the parish. She plans to focus on the priorities of the call which are visitation, and working with children and youth.

    Swanson talked about some of the things she feels are important. She says, “Faith is about relationships with God and building  relationships with members and  others and getting to know community members. Concerns of every church  is that our younger adults don’t always attend church — I am looking to our leaders and pastors to try and deal with that — there is no magic bullet — it comes down to building  relationships with God and people — that is the heart of any ministry.”

    People come to faith in God through others that have relationships with God and lead a Christian life — how are they to know if they don’t hear it?

    Pastor Stephanie is looking forward to getting to know the people of the congregation. The first year is about “Getting to Know You” — from “The King and I.”