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Tammy Swanson-Draheim Elected President of the Covenant Church

In a historic election today, Rev. Tammy Swanson-Draheim was elected president of the Evangelical Covenant Church by delegates to the 136th Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. Voted in by an overwhelming 20-1 margin, Swanson-Draheim is the first woman to hold the position in the denomination’s history.

After a lengthy standing ovation following the vote, Evelyn Johnson, longtime Covenant leader and former superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference, punctuated the occasion on behalf of the various influential Covenant women flanking Rev. Swanson-Draheim onstage: “It’s real! You are the president!” exclaimed Johnson.

“I love the Covenant Church, and I love the people of the Covenant Church,” said Swanson-Draheim. “In God’s economy, challenges are opportunities, and I declare that we have some opportunities.”

Swanson-Draheim stated that her five values are to be rooted in Christ, fully grounded in the Scriptures, guided by the Holy Spirit, unapologetically focused on the church’s mission, and loving people well.

She added in conclusion, “For the glory of God and the love of neighbor, may we do it together.”

Swanson-Draheim was selected by a 27-person nominating committee, following a five-month deliberation process that started with 40 candidates before narrowing to six and culminating in one. According to chair of the nominating committee Steve Dawson, Swanson-Draheim has “outstanding leadership skills,” and her appreciation for the diversity of the Covenant, combined with her “heart for relationships and relational health, and belief in our mission are essential qualities that are needed now.”

For more than 23 years, Rev. Swanson-Draheim has held a variety of leadership roles in the Covenant, including pastoral and chaplaincy roles in Mason City, Iowa; Concord, California; and Chicago, Illinois. Prior to being elected president, she served as superintendent of the Midwest Conference, a position to which she was elected in 2011.

“If you are a leader, you influence those who follow you, and if you’re a trailblazer, you open a door to those who come after you,” said Rev. Dr. Catherine Gilliard, superintendent of the Southeast Conference. Addressing the president-elect directly, she continued, “You are a leader, a trailblazer, and a pastor to pastors who is called and gifted by God to serve as president. The stained-glass ceiling is broken! You will inspire young girls who will see your leadership and assume it is normative.”

Rev. Swanson-Draheim has two adult sons with her late husband, Kelly, and four grandchildren. She plans to relocate to the Chicagoland area.

You can watch this historic moment here >>

About the Author

  • Jelani Greenidge

    Jelani Greenidge is the missional storyteller for the Evangelical Covenant Church and ministers in and around Portland, Oregon, as a worship musician, cultural consultant, and stand-up comic.

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