The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A surprising new role

David Swartling prepares for his work as ELCA secretary

“What?!” That was the text message David D. Swartling received from his son, Christopher, just after his election as ELCA secretary at the Aug. 6-11 Churchwide Assembly.

The election surprised Swartling too: Outside of occasional speculation, “I didn’t really think it would end up this way.”

Of his new role as ELCA secretary,
Of his new role as ELCA secretary, David D. Swartling said: “My plan is to work on a collegial, collaborative leadership style with other staff.”

Effective Nov. 1, Swartling becomes the first lay member to serve in the position. The 60-year-old trial lawyer from Seattle succeeds the retiring Lowell G. Almen, who has held the office since the ELCA began 20 years ago.

Swartling and his wife, Barbara, a banker, have two sons: Christopher, 28, an English language instructor at a university in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Ryan, 26, a Seattle-based sous-chef.

The Chicago-bound couple leave behind their congregation of 30 years, Bethany Lutheran, Bainbridge Island, Wash.; their house; award-winning careers; and a host of family, friends and colleagues. While there’s grief, there’s also precedent, Swartling said, adding, “If you look at the Bible, there are lots of people uprooted vocationally and geographically late in life.”

The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.

text size:

this page: email | print

February issue


Embracing diversity