MINNEAPOLIS, MN (July 24, 2013) – The Northwest Conference announced today that Jeffrey Burton has been called to be its director of pastoral care and development, and Judy Swanberg has been called to be the associate director.
Burton and Swanberg will begin in their new positions October 1 and will be formally introduced at the conference’s Pastors Fall Retreat at Sugar Lake Lodge in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
The new positions approved at this year’s conference Annual Meeting are intended to provide greater encouragement and support for those serving in vocational ministry. Currently, both positions will begin on a part-time basis with the intention of each role increasing in both scale and scope over the next few years.
“It is my prayer that those serving within ministry positions in our region will feel better supported and resourced through the calling of these two individuals to specifically come alongside of them,” said Superintendent Mark Stromberg. “Our NWC executive board and local church delegates have made a big commitment by allocating funds in our budget for these new positions.”
The conference is the first in the denomination with positions dedicated to a pastor’s spiritual formation. “It would be extremely gratifying if the Northwest Conference could become known as a place where a new standard is set on what it means to both resource and support those in ministry,” Stromberg said.
Currently, Burton is serving as lead pastor at Lakeview Covenant Church in Duluth, Minnesota. During his thrity-five years in pastoral ministry, Burton previously served Covenant churches in Minnesota and Florida. Recently, he has served as a pastoral ministry coach, and has also been serving on the Co-OP (Coaching of Pastors) Management Team and PULSE Interpretation Team for the Department of Church Growth & Evangelism. He has helped lead the Northwest and Southeast conferences by serving twice on each of their executive boards. He is married to Gina, and they have two grown sons.
Swanberg recently concluded her time as chaplain at Covenant Village of Florida in the city of Plantation. She has served as a director of Christian education, a director of children’s ministry, and as a Christian formation consultant for the Central Conference and associate superintendent of the East Coast Conference. She also has served as an interim pastor, spiritual director, retreat speaker, and adjunct seminary instructor as well as on the denomination board of Ordered Ministry, North Park University Board of Trustees, and the Northwest Conference Executive Board.
“Since my mid-twenties, many pastors, lay leaders, and seminarians have invited me into personal conversation and have shared deeply with me,” Swanberg said. “This call to be a listening companion, to speak the truth in love, and to encourage leaders has been affirmed over and over again, without regard to age, gender, race, denomination or theological preferences.”
Her interest in spiritual direction began more than twenty years ago, “when a friend gave me a book entitled The Art of Christian Listening and I read for the first time about the ancient practice of spiritual direction, realizing that others had long perceived my gifts as a spiritual director. Swanberg said she now prefers the Celtic term “soul friend.”
“Jesus as the friend who listens and shares during a limited time together while walking to Emmaus is my favorite Bible story,” she added.
Swanberg and her husband, Bob, have been married for nearly forty-four years and have lived in several diverse communities. Bob retired in June 2013 after teaching middle-school social studies for thirty-nine years. They have one adult son.