Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball Announces Appointment of Wesleyan District Superintendent

By Sandra Steiner Ball

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball is pleased to announce the appointment of Rick Swearengin as a Conference Superintendent assigned to the Wesleyan District beginning July 1, 2020. Rev. Swearengin currently serves the Madison United Methodist Church, Madison, WV. Rick has been appointed to follow Rev. Mary Ellen Finegan who has faithfully, and with great dedication and love, served as a Conference Superintendent for eight years. 

Originally from Southwest Missouri, Rick began his first full-time job before he reached age eighteen. He spent ten years working at a feed mill in Thornfield, Missouri. Although Rick says that was not the ideal job and was often physically demanding, he is thankful for how this job has impacted his life to this very day.

Early on he realized the importance of not giving up on himself or others. He learned to value each human being for who they were and for what they contributed to the world. Rick came to appreciate how we are all created differently, yet each one precious in the sight of God. Looking back on his first work experience he realizes that God was doing a work that, at the time, he didn’t truly understand. God’s prevenient grace was not only leading him into a saving relationship with God but preparing him to minister to all people. Through his everyday dealings with a cast of characters from various walks of life, he learned how to interact with those who may or may not share the same values or ideas. He grew to appreciate the value of community and working together. 

Eventually, Rick went to work as a welder in order to provide a better living for his family. After taking this job he fell victim to a massive layoff, and he and he found himself wondering how he would provide for his family and pay the bills. Rick reports, “This experience only served to make me stronger and trust the Lord even more.” 

As a spiritual leader and an Elder, ordained in 2012, Rick relies on God, Christ, God’s Holy Spirit, and his past experiences to help him in ministry and his relationships with others. He has served as an assigned supply, licensed local pastor, provisional elder and now ordained elder.  He knows the struggles and the joys that each status brings and appreciates the hard work of every minister regardless of whether they are lay, licensed, or ordained: deacon and elder. 

Rick’s ministry in the West Virginia Conference spans more than 21 years. He has served congregations in Wirt County (assigned supply), Calhoun County (Licensed ministry), Nicholas County (Provisional and Ordained) and now Madison (full member). Rick understands the struggles some persons have faced in the church and community because he experienced the challenges of being retrained, being laid off, going back to school, and completing an undergraduate and then a graduate degree. 

Considering his journey in life and ministry, Rick says, “My strengths and gifts have emerged from my life experiences and my growing relationship with Christ as his disciple. I can see within each person the gifts with which God has blessed them. I love to help people understand just how God can use these gifts and encourage them to allow God to do so. As a parish coordinator, I loved working with other lay and clergy to strengthen our ministries and our communities. I can take difficult concepts and simplify them, break them down so that a larger number of people can understand. I often draw from life experiences in order to help bring clarity and understanding. I have a degree in teacher education. I love to teach and use every opportunity to do so. I believe in the power of God and in the power of education, respect, and prayer to help bring about a better understanding of any situation. I am humbled and honored to be invited into this new ministry. I ask for your prayers and your support as I learn and live into this new ministry of Superintending to which I have been called.” 

The Cabinet is looking forward to welcoming Rick to the team.  The Dean of the Cabinet, Joe Kenaston, shares, “When Rick and I were pastoral colleagues in the Greenbrier District I knew him as a committed disciple of Christ, a compassionate leader, and a pastor engaged in sharing God’s love in the community.  I experienced him as a person of integrity who loved the church and empowered it to be the “leaven” in the community.”

Rick will bring to the Cabinet a passion for Christ, the church, and the West Virginia Annual Conference.  He will also draw from his experience in the small church and a county seat church.  He understands life in the mountains of West Virginia and our need to minister with everyone. As your bishop, I am excited to welcome Rick as a Conference Superintendent.

Rick and his wife, Melody, celebrated thirty years of marriage last October. They have four sons; Rickey (Tyler), Zachary, and Ryan, whose ages range from twenty-nine to twenty-four, and Zander who is twelve.

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