I have left her birthday on my calendar, even though she died years ago. Her birthday is on Veteran’s Day, so that gives me an excuse remember her legacy. I wrote a piece on the Back Page when she left SoCal to settle down where she had grown up – South Dakota. Here is part of what I said back 2003. I repeat it today because it is good to remember those who served among us, like you do today. Veterans of ministry are important. We are here today because of the faithful investment of folks like Ethel Swenson.
Why did Ethel Swenson leave behind the glories of Southern California for the wilds of South Dakota? Perhaps it was our smog? Or the earthquakes? Fires? Traffic? Crowds? Haze? Lack of seasons? Oh well, I’d better stop there before you consider joining Ethel in the land of frozen tundra.
Ethel was a member of Peninsula since March 18, 1973 (we keep records!). I was a senior in high school back then without too many cares in the world. But the world has changed. The church has changed. Our name has changed. Thirty years is a long time to be a member at Peninsula! But through it all Ethel has been faithful.
She was on both committees which brought new senior pastors to Peninsula. In fact, her salmon helped warm me up to this place nine (now 28) years ago! She’s been on the leadership team of just about every group or committee in her days here. She spearheaded the 35th Anniversary celebration in 1999, which was successful beyond our imagination.
As the moving van chugs out across the desert this week, we will watch a huge part of our history go with it. Some of us fight the passing of time. But not Ethel. She takes each bend in the road with a fierce determination to make the best of it. And in this transition, she will do the same. The air will be a little chillier, but cleaner!
So, thanks, Ethel. For thirty years of time and energy and love and prayers. We thank our God in all our remembrance of you. Just keep praying for us as we suffer for Jesus in our temperate climate which nears perfection. May your love for the Lord grow stronger and your fellowship with new friends sweeten the journey of life. Please know you always have a home here in Palos Verdes, one in which you’ve been an integral part.
Ethel now has a home (with perfect weather) in Heaven. But what legacy will you leave behind? How will we remember you? Because we will.