Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rev. Derek O. Swann

I have just heard the news that Mr Swann, who was my minister for eighteen years, has died in Cardiff, after a long illness. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family today.

Mr Swann had a sharp mind and a warm heart, two characteristics which were vital in his long ministry. What won him huge respect from so many people was his in-depth and thorough bible-teaching, for which people would travel many miles. As a contributor to reference works such as the Illustrated Bible Dictionary, and a book reviewer for publishers such as IVP, Mr Swann was no mean Bible-scholar whose rigorous grappling with the texts, and languages meant that hearing him preach was always an enriching learning experience. What he presented though was not mere dry, austere academic orthodoxy, (orthodox though it was!) but heartfelt, and heartwarming preaching of Christ, forged as much on his knees in prayer, as it was in study at his desk.

Fewer people will remember what a great pastor he was to children. His children's talks in church were way ahead of their time in the 1970s, innovative, interactive, visual and memorable. That is not to say they were ever flippant - far from it - in fact they could be very sobering. Several stand out in my mind very clearly even to this day. As the children left the church part-way through the service we all filed past the big pulpit and lots of the little ones would wave up at him as we went past the foot of the steps, and he would beam back at us! In a not unconnected vein he once taught us to begin our prayers, "Dear, kind, heavenly-Father".

In my teenage years, Mr Swann was willing to spend time with me - not just talking to me and engaging with problems and ideas - but also listening to me, despite the fact that much of what came out must have sounded like self-obsessed teenage rambling! He was also known for his faithful visiting in the town, calling in and spending time with the elderly, the sick and the suffering (distributing Lucozade, driving very fast, and being accompanied by a mad little dog!).


Mr Swann not only married my parents in 1967, and baptised me in 1971, but with his immense learning, wisdom and integrity has had a huge influence on my life. I thank God for him.

10 comments:

Michelle Gray said...

Thanks for your excellent tribute to Derek. I just heard the sad news of his death, and decided to 'google' him, and found this! I too grew up in his church in the 70's, I remember sitting in those choir seats on a Sunday morning and especially remember his talks on 'Pilgrims Progress'. So thanks for the trip down memory lane... and I also extend my sympathies and prayers to Derek's family.

That Hideous Man said...

Hi Michelle - thanks for your comments. I remember that serialisation of Pilgrim's Progress too!

His Girl Friday said...

Very eloquently written HM, and heartfelt. This man reminds me of the pastor in the church I grew up in.
What a wonderful role-model mentor!

Victor Meldrew said...

Sounds like a loving, caring, genuine guy. He obviously made an impression. Makes me wonder what folks'll say about me when I pop the clogs. I'd be well pleased with "He made me laugh".

Orchid said...

Nicely written tribute THM.It is not everyday that you find people like these.

Philip Swann said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful tribute to my Dad, it was a wonderful surprise to come across it. I read it to my mother this afternoon and it was a great comfort to her as it is also to my brother and me as well.

Lee Messeder said...

Thanks for your thougts on Derek Swann. I too remember very vividly listening to the Pilgrim Progress children talks. They were wonderful. I was also deeply impressed by his sermons and the wonderful Sunday evenings in the manse, where as a group of the YF, we would ask all sorts of questions, which Derek always answered so well. His ministry truly changed my life.
I remember especially Derek's family in our prayers. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I was forced to go to his church for 20 years and hated every minute of it !!!!!!

That Hideous Man said...

Hello Anon. When were you there, did our paths cross?

MelWalford said...

Hi

Many years ago Derek Swann delivered a lecture on the life of Daniel Rowland of Llangeitho. It was wonderful. I owned a copy on tape, but sadly have lost it. Does anyone own a copy or could advise mewhere I might obtain a copy if still available?

Kind regards

Mel Walford

melwalford@gmail.com