Price Chapel's new pastor has deep roots in Castle Country
Before reaching the age of 10, the Price Chapel's newest senior pastor knew he wanted live his life as the pastor of his own church. With family ties to the Castle Country, the Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor made his way from Washington and California to follow his family's footsteps by taking the reigns in Carbon County.
"We have had the most amazing experience here so far," said the Price Chapel's Senior Pastor Steve Swinburne, 28, who took over the large congregation on March 4. "The people have been so kind to me and my family and treat us as though we have been here forever."
Swinburne's roots run deep in the Castle Country as three generations have found their way into leadership positions here. His father Ted, grew up in Huntington and is an Emery High School and College of Eastern Utah graduate. His uncle Doug Swinburne was also a senior pastor at the Price Chapel, leading the congregation for nine years before leaving in 2002. In fact, of the church's original 11 members, six were related to Swinburne.
His grandparents Bob and LuRene Swinburne are also from Emery County. His grandfather worked as principal at Emery High School from 1960 to 1987, a math teacher, he worked for school district for 30 years before retiring at the age of 58.
Growing up around a strongly religious family, Swinburne embraced the calling to lead rather than rebel against it as religious children often do. The California native received his Bachelor's degree in Pastoral Studies from Simpson University in Redding, Calif. In 2005, and his Master's in Organizational Leadership at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.
"I remember clearly that I was eight and attending a mission conference when I became aware that I wanted to lead others to the Lord. Since then it's really all I've wanted to do," said Swinburne. "Through my teen years I had a lot of ups and downs, but those situations always seemed to strengthen my faith rather than challenge it."
According to Swinburne, he began feeling a strong need to come back to where his uncle and grandparents had lived their lives starting in 2010 and would eventually express an interest in leading the Price Chapel.
When Pastor Dan Samuelson left the church more than three years ago, Pastor Milt Davis stepped in under a "pastor for a season program," which is common within the Christian and Missionary Alliance faith. While the program usually lasts for only one year, Davis ended up staying for more than two, before Swinburne found his way to Utah.
"I knew about the church through my family, and the church had been on my heart for some time," he said.
After speaking at the Price Chapel as a guest it became apparent that Swinburne was a fitting choice for the eclectic congregation.
Sermons 'shed light'
"I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for his service and so impressed with the knowledge and wisdom Steve possesses for such a young man," said chapel member Jana Metzger. "I look forward to hearing him every week because his sermons lead me toward my faith. He sheds light on the bible in a unique way, his passion and fire come through in his words."
The Price Chapel is one of Carbon County's largest christian non-denominational churches with 125 regular members and 200 attendees worshiping on any given Sunday. Church leaders reported that as many as 350 Castle Country citizens call the church their home.
"The people here are so friendly and caring," said Swinburne. "There is so much love here, I have had the opportunity to meet with several city leaders and express my appreciation for leading a church that is such a melting pot of generations and backgrounds."
While Swinburne was kind concerning the reception he has received from residents of the area, he did address the drug and suicide issues which have been well documented in Carbon County.
"I've been thinking the Castle Country is at a crossroads," he said. "I can see people coming together to address these problems. Coming together to find a way forward."
Swinburne spoke of his churches' plans to help promote mentoring programs within the schools, focusing on a strong prevention effort. He quoted statistics which demonstrate junior high students in areas of the county possess students of which 50 percent have no father in their life.
"We have room to grow here and are looking forward to planning family support groups for those effected by substance abuse and then a group for those facing the abuse problems themselves," he said.
Swinburne and his wife Rennee were married in 2005. They have two children Evan, 3 and Reagan,1.
The church's Associate Pastor is Alex Krum, 30. The Price Chapel also conducts a youth program every Sunday for children ages infant to 13.