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Rev. Javen Swanson

Ministry setting

Associate Pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St Paul, MN.

What brings you joy in your ministry?

Whether in a parish or as a community organizer, I find joy in building bridges between the LGBT community and communities of faith. I want to help heal the wounds that have been inflicted on LGBT people by people of faith, and to ease the suspicion with which so many progressives view the church. It brings me joy to hear people say, "I've come to see that Christians are not the enemy. Maybe there's a place for me in the church after all."

Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?

I'm inspired by people who put faith into action. As a Lutheran I believe that I'm freed by the grace of God to act on behalf of my neighbor. Liberated from the need to somehow earn my own salvation, I can turn my attention to the world around me and work for justice on behalf of those on the margins--not because it brings me closer to God but simply because my neighbor is in need. I'm inspired by people who so clearly comprehend God's grace in their life that they dive fully into the world and work to bring about justice for the oppressed. These people are role models for me.

What are your interests outside of ministry?

I'm a musician and love to play piano and guitar. I enjoy Minnesota summers outside biking, camping, and boating.

Best meal you've ever eaten?

My dad is a phenomenal amateur chef. Growing up, an annual tradition was a New Year's Eve surf and turf meal, my dad's own lobster and steak special. That's still a meal I request whenever we have a special occasion to celebrate as a family.

Brief bio

The Rev. Javen Swanson serves as Associate Pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he oversees both the congregation's social justice programs and its healing and caring ministries. Prior to his ordination, Javen was a community organizer, first with OutFront Minnesota and the Minnesotans United for All Families Campaign, and later with the National LGBTQ Task Force. A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and Yale Divinity School, Javen now lives in Saint Paul with his husband, the Rev. Oby Ballinger, their cats Amos and Hosea, and their dog Ruthie. Find out more:

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