The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Reuben T. Swanson, 1922-2008

Reuben T. Swanson, 86, former secretary of the Lutheran Church in America, died Oct. 3 in Fort Collins, Colo.

Swanson was a member of the Commission for a New Lutheran Church, which facilitated the 1987 merger of the LCA, the American Lutheran Church and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches to become the ELCA.

“If there was ever a mentor for all of us for what it means to be a person of deep and abiding faith, with an incredible breadth of vision of absolute, resilient hopefulness for the church, a hope borne out of faith, it was Reuben Swanson,” ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson told the ELCA Conference of Bishops Oct. 3 in Chicago.

Swanson served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. He then earned degrees from Augustana College and Augustana Seminary, both in Rock Island, Ill.

Ordained in 1951, he served congregations in New York and Nebraska until his 1964 election as president of the LCA Nebraska Synod. In 1978 he was elected LCA secretary. Swanson was also president of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A., commissioner of Lutheran World Ministries, and on the board of the Lutheran Summer Music Program.

When the ELCA began, Swanson retired. He served the ELCA Board of Pensions as treasurer of its Board of Trustees and as a regional representative from 1993 to 2000.

Swanson and his wife, Darlene, who died earlier this year, were generous philanthropists.


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