Sr. Becky Swanson has always been bi-vocational. After graduating from Augsburg College with a bachelors in music and an education license she taught for Minneapolis Public schools at the middle school level. At that same time she also began serving as bell choir and children’s choir director at a nearby congregation. Soon she was leading congregational trips to Holden Village and initiating and leading the congregation’s first band-led worship service.
After 11 years, she accepted a job as music director at another congregation. That same year, she entered the world of corporate training.
While serving as half-time music director, she worked as a full-time instructional designer and facilitator for corporations in a wide variety of industries: insurance, advertising, retail giants, health care and even some stints with as a consultant for nationally renowned eLearning companies.
In 2003, while leading a small team of trainers and writers at a big-box retail company, she decided to return to graduate school. After several conversations with mentors and pastors (and not a few arguments with God) she applied for the Master of Sacred Music program at Luther Seminary. Even though she auditioned on her accordion (playing Bach’s “English Suite III”) she was accepted. The same day she received her acceptance letter she was laid off from the big fancy corporate job.
At her entrance decision, her candidacy committee recommended she investigate the Deaconess Community. The community’s spiritual formation, practices of Diakonia service in community and articulation of accompaniment and service to people in need along with a love of being with God in worship was something they heard in her call story and helped her articulate through the candidacy process.
The Deaconess Community’s Committee on Vocation and Education encouraged her to craft an internship that went beyond her years of experience in worship and music; to explore other ministry passions. Her internship was in faith-based community organizing with a congregation that was very active in social ministry as individuals but not together as a congregation.
She was consecrated in March 2011 and installed as a children’s choir director. She continued to work in corporate training and began to also work independently as a coach and consultant for churches and leadership teams of congregations while seeking a full-time call in ministry.
In 2014 she was called to Trinity Lutheran Seminary as the Assistant Director of Contextual Education. In July of 2015, she became the Director and Associate Professor of Contextual Education.
As the Director of Contextual Education she helps students make the leap from theory to practice in their ministry preparation by facilitating field placements and internships. She cares for relationships with teaching congregations and organizations and provides skill development opportunities for supervisor-mentors. She also serves as an advocate for those called to Word and Service ministry at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and across the seminaries of the ELCA, encouraging the other contextual education offices to prepare to take a more actively supportive role in formation of Word and Service candidates.