A warm welcome

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But new pastor at Conifer Community Church eager to experience some cold comfort, Colorado style

By Barbara Ford

The new pastor at Conifer Community Church is looking forward to two things, tending to the needs of the community — and winter.

Pastor Lance Swearengin, 38, and his family recently moved to Conifer from St. Louis, and though they’ve never experienced a Colorado winter, they’re ready.

“It’s all new and exciting and fresh,” he said.

Since Sept. 12, Swearengin has been senior pastor for the independent, non-denominational church at 9998 Havekost Road in Conifer. The church, which opened in 1953 and now has about 100 members, has been without a pastor for two years.

Swearengin said his expertise in church planning would help bring the church’s message to Conifer, and he hopes to expand the church both physically and spiritually.

“We’re not confined to our four walls and how can we make a difference in the community,” he said.

Swearengin said he has reached out to area pastors and has found camaraderie, not competition. For him, that’s inspirational.

“We all are working toward the common good and to build a kingdom of God in Conifer,” he said.

Helping Conifer

Swearengin said the church has resources available for people in the community, such as firewood. Those in need should contact the church, and in some cases church members will deliver wood to people’s homes. The only glitch with providing wood is that recently the church’s log splitter was stolen.

“It’s sad when it happens. We used it to give wood to the community,” Swearengin said.

He hopes to add a moms support group where mothers can meet and their kids will have a place to play. He said the church has provided Thanksgiving baskets in past years, but he wants to shift those resources to Easter next year.

There are plans to make improvements to the building and programs, and he hopes people will be drawn to the church.

The road to Conifer

Swearengin met his wife, Melanie, at Auburn University in Alabama, where they were both disc jockeys at the school’s radio station. Later, Swearengin received his master of divinity degree at the Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis.

Before coming to Conifer, he served the congregation for eight years at West Hills Community Church in St. Louis. From there, he was asked to start a new church, called Waypoint, where he served for five years. Swearengin said he enjoyed the challenge of starting a new church. 

“I like the risk and being out on the edge,” he said. “We start out with no people and no money.”

The lure of the mountains

Swearengin appreciates the training advantages of the higher altitude in Conifer because, in his spare time, he is an endurance athlete who has run eight marathons since 2000. His goal is to run a marathon in each of the 50 states.

“We moved here to be closer to the mountains,” said Swearengin, an avid skier and outdoorsman.

Swearengin said he has found the place where he belongs.

“When we first came, we really felt a family atmosphere here where people really care about each other,” he said.

The couple have two kids ages 5 and 2, and he said they have adjusted pretty well except for missing a few things.

“My son misses McDonald’s,” he said.

Swearengin said he thinks Conifer has a lot to offer, and he hopes a lot of it is white and fluffy.

“We’re hoping for a lot of snow,” Swearengin said, “but I hear we won’t be that excited (about snow) in May.”

Contact Barbara Ford at barbara@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1043. Check www.HighTimberTimes.com for updates.