Columbia United Church of Christ gets new pastor

By JESSICA BARNETT
neighborhoods@ColumbiaMissourian.com

Rev. Steve Swope begins to settle in after his first few weeks at the church.

Columbia United Church of Christ recently put an end to it’s nearly six-year-long interim state when the Rev. Steve Swope gave his first sermon on Sunday, Aug. 1.

Swope arrived in Columbia on July 26 after spending the past 10 years working as an interim minister in California.

The move from California to Missouri is Swope’s eleventh move. He says he looks forward to putting down roots and is ready for a permanent position.

“I lived 11 1/2 years in California. I’d like to beat that here,” Swope said.

After having to commute to work for an hour and a half each day in California, he is thrilled to live only nine minutes from his new job.

Although Swope is originally from Maine, his son, Ben, studied under the theatre department at Stephens College, so Swope is familiar with Columbia.

The familiarity is only one of the reasons he chose to move to Columbia. “We had desires, interests and dreams in common,” Swope said about the Columbia United Church of Christ.

His first and most pressing goal is just to get acquainted with the congregation, of which Swope already speaks highly. “There’s a whole community of people trying to help us fit in,” he said.

The church has already held a few events to allow Swope and his family to get to know the congregation.

The next steps for him are to look for any areas of enhancement or expansion within the church and to reconnect with the college community. Columbia United Church of Christ originally began as a student ministry on Hitt Street.

Now, Swope said there is not a very large student presence within the congregation. Swope is trying to come up with ways to involve more of the college student population in the church and their community activities.

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