By Judy Garrison
During a relaxed conversation over coffee in his light and cheerful living room at the Manse, Steve Swanson confided that he wished he were better at small talk. I found him to be refreshingly adept at talk, both small and big! He told me all about his stalwart dog companion of 12 years, Dylan, a golden retriever who is greatly missed, and whom he is not quite ready to replace. When the stately grandfather clock chimed on the quarter hour I learned that it had been made by his own grandfather who had emigrated form Scotland to Winnipeg, Canada, and later, as a self-educated building contractor, moved to Southern California in the early ‘20s, where Steve himself was raised. I suspect that this clock represents some welcome continuity for a man who was graduated from university in Denver, attended seminary in Denver, California and Princeton, received his Doctorate in the Old Testament from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and taught math for 21 years both in South Central Los Angeles and the state of Washington. We went on to speak of many different subjects in what is rare these days, an old fashioned chat that expands here and there when there is a story to tell or a book to recommend, to allow answers to my questions on how the presbytery works, and what skills and talents ministers are called on to exercise. This was mainly an interview, but I expect I’ll be back for more conversation.
Rev. Steve was called to the Presbyterian Church of Andes (Town) in August, 2009 and moved from Bainbridge Island, Washington into the Manse next door to the school on Delaware Avenue in September. Unusual for this region, his is a full time ministry in keeping with the congregation’s desire for their minister to serve the whole Andes community, where they have historically seen their church as a cornerstone. How that evolves will depend on where he senses the need or interest. Rev. Steve clearly does not view himself as an authority figure, or someone who has all the answers. In fact, he has the air of a man still searching, a person, like most of us, aware of his own imperfections. When I inquired if he had plans to lead any study groups or workshops, besides those he already has in the church, he let me know he would feel most comfortable as a facilitator in a group for which there was interest. So let him or the Gazette know a subject you’d like to explore that relates to religion, Celtic spirituality, philosophy, or maybe the far reaches of science. I sense that his interests are far-ranging. He is currently at work on a piece of fiction and participates in a regional writers’ workshop. I heard him hold down the tenor section in the Christmas cantata. This coming summer he hopes to visit Scotland again and drive from there to northern Italy. He had considered driving a Vespa, but has gravitated to thinking of travelling by car. Either way, it sounds adventurous to me.
Steve likes living in Andes and welcomes visits from people in the community. His own family is not nearby. (He has two grown children, a daughter in Joplin, Missouri who has two daughters, and a son in Denver, Colorado who has one son.) You can call to talk on the phone (home: 676-6011; church: 676-4493) or set up a time to visit, or—he assures me–just knock on his door. You might also find him at the counter at Woody’s on a weekday. While he offers pastoral counseling, he also wants to simply get acquainted with folks. So don’t hesitate! ~