has been elected as the first female president in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) denomination's history
ECC, with 900 congregations in U.S. and Canada, called it a "historic election" as Swanson-Draheim was voted in by a 20-1 margin during the church's 136th Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri,Thursday, Christian Post reported.
The first female president-elect has been with the church for 23 years and upholds five values ever since, which she will continue to uphold as she accepts God's calling for her in this season and leads the church: first is to be rooted in Christ, second is to be fully grounded in the Scriptures, third is to guided by the Holy Spirit, fourth is to unapologetically focus on the mission of the church and last is to love people well. She invited the entire congregation to live these five values with her for the love of neighbor and for God's glory.
"I love the Covenant Church, and I love the people of the Covenant Church," the former superintendent of the ECC's Midwest Conference proclaimed.
It was said in ECC website's report that not only did many influential Covenant women flacked the president-elect on stage during her inauguration but the entire congregation gave her a prolonged standing ovation, concluded by longtime Covenant leader and former superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference Evelyn Johnson exclaiming, "It's real! You are the president!"
'Stained-Glass Ceiling Broken'
With controversies surrounding and questioning female church leaders and pastors, like the danger the megachurch Saddleback is facing with the possibility of being removed from the Southern Baptist Convention's denomination because of ordaining women pastors, ECC remains unshaken.
Rev. Dr. Catherine Gilliard, superintendent of the Southeast Conference directly addressed Swanson-Draheim and boldly spoke to the congregation saying, "The stained-glass ceiling is broken! You will inspire young girls who will see your leadership and assume it is normative," after calling the president-elect a trailblazer, a leader, and a pastor to pastors, God-chosen and annointed to serve as president.
Swanson-Draheim, mother of two, confirmed that there are and will be a lot of challenges but she responded that challenges are opportunities in the economy of God.
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Selection Process 'Bathed In Prayer'
It was in February of this year when ECC announced in a statement that Swanson-Draheim is one of the 6 nominees for the denomination's president, which was initially at 40 candidates.
Steve Dawson, chair of the Presidential Nominating Committee that consists of 26 other members stated they were gratefully overwhelmed and cannot stop praising God for the "rich pool of candidates" that they have, whose testimonies, competencies, and persevering faith and belief in God is a clear reflection of how ECC is a "gifted body."
Further, he narrated that the five-month deliberation process was filled with clear discernment and unity of mind, which they have really asked from the Holy Spirit. "Our process was bathed in prayer," Dawson declared.
The president-elect is known for giving much value to the diversity of the church, her exceptional leadership skills, deep faith in ECC's mission, and most of all, her "heart for relationships and relational health", and these made her perfect to lead ECC as these are what they need in the season now.
Before Swanson-Draheim's presidential and superintendent roles, she was the senior pastor of First Covenant Church in Mason City, Iowa for eight years and the chaplain at Covenant Home in Chicago. She served the Crossroads Covenant Church in Concord, California, in several roles and was a chair of the Council of Superintendents at ECC for the past 4 years. She was also the chair of the Board of the Ordered Ministry at the Covenant Executive Board, Board of Pension and Benefits, and has also led many task forces and committees.
Swanson-Draheim has a master of divinity degree with high honors from North Park Theological Seminary and started with the Evangelical Covenant Church in 2005, ordained in Word and Sacrament. She plans to relocate to the Chicagoland area but currently settles in Omaha, Nebraska.
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