“Go Forth this day, hearing God’s call in your life!”

By Jim Minutelli

Rev. Rick Swearengin was officially installed as a Conference Superintendent, assigned to the Wesleyan District, Saturday during a service that was offered to the conference via livestream from Bridgeport United Methodist Church.

With special music interwoven through the beginning of the service by musicians of the BUMC, a welcome, call to worship, and opening prayer was given by Rev. Dr. Ken Ramsey, Senior Pastor of the Bridgeport UMC and Chair of the Wesleyan District Superintendency Committee.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball then thanked all those who participated in the celebration and introduced Rev. Swearengin, whom she acknowledged has been “on-the-job for a while now” and that we would, on this day, “pause to fully install Rick.”

She discussed how prayer and spiritual discernment are a big part of how she chooses a new Superintendent, “listening to God’s word and direction” and listening and praying with the Cabinet, while talking with Laity and Clergy around the Conference.

“I find that Rick has a deep faith in Christ, and he not only reads the scriptures, but ponders how they work within his life, so that he can be God’s blessing of light and life to others,” says Steiner-Ball.

In sharing some of his history, the Bishop stated, “Rick is one of those persons who took some of those experiences of being a lay person, and assigned supply, and as an elder and brought those to the life and work of the church.” 

“Rick understands that the church exists to reach those who are not here yet, and I am excited to work with Rick Swearengin. I welcome him and his family to our conference family, and I hope you all will welcome him too.”

Our Bishop then gave Rev. Swearengin the opportunity to introduce his family and say a few words, then presented Rick with three items: a Bible, as the foundation of his work as a superintendent; a copy of the Book of Discipline, to give him the guidelines for who we are as United Methodists: and a gavel, which brings a reminder of his obligation to help order the church so that Christ’s love and hope might “move us into the future with grace.” 

Bishop Steiner Ball then led the Covenant Service of Installation.

Further signs of the work of a District Superintendent were then presented to Rev. Swearengin by Rev. Dr. Ken Ramsey and Rev. Dr. Joe Kenaston, Dean of the Cabinet. This included water for the renewal of his baptism, a Book of Worship and hymnal to guide him in prayer and praise, a towel and basin as a reminder that he is among us as a one who serves, a stole as a reminder to be a shepherd and to pastor the people, and a globe to symbolize John Wesley’s statement that the whole world is our parish.

Rev. Swearengin then read from Matthew 28:16-20 and shared his message that each of us needs to go forth and make disciples as Jesus did and, as instructed in each of the four gospels, that sharing the hope that is within us helps others believe.  That “walking alongside of others, praying for them, rejoicing with them, and never giving up on what Christ is doing in their lives,” as a friend and mentor did for him when he was a young man, is what Christ mandates as our mission as Christians in making disciples. 

After a final hymn, Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball sent all forth with blessings to “Go forth this day…hearing God’s call in your life.”

Jim Minutelli, Certified Lay Minister, is the Wesleyan District Communications Coordinator.