Bountiful pastor has a single message: loveNov 03, 2022 01:42PM ● By Peri Kinder
The welcoming statement for Bountiful Community Church is “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” Rev. Robin Swope, the pastor of the church, upholds that mission and wants the BCC to be a refuge for any person who needs to feel accepted and loved.
“I was always a little more progressive, and this church is an awesome fit,” he said. “They’re conservative progressive. They don’t judge people. They accept people for who they are. It’s a diamond in a field and I’m lucky to have found it.”
Swope has led the BCC congregation for three years, after serving in places like in New York, Africa and Pennsylvania. He grew up on the East Coast in a non-practicing Catholic home and got caught up in gangs and crime as a teen. But he always felt he was trying to find his way. When he had a “moment of awakening” in the early ‘80s, he was inspired to dedicate his life to service.
He earned a B.A. in Biblical Literature at Nyack College and finished an M.Div. in Pastoral Ministry at Alliance Theological Seminary, with an emphasis on marital and family counseling. He served as a missionary in Burkina Faso and had a street ministry in Brooklyn, New York, where he would try to bring the homeless population and gang members to Christ.
“I’d ask them, ‘If you were to die tonight, do you know where you’d go?’ I’d go up to gang members and ask that and they’d say, ‘Why, what do you have planned?’”
Before moving to Utah, Swope served as the pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Erie, Penn. He worked to open overnight shelters for the homeless and struggled to attract young people to the church, a population that has distrust in organized religion.
As congregations age, church populations are dwindling, but at BCC, Swope wants everyone to know they are welcome, either as a worshiper or a visitor.
“I think we’re going to be a safe haven and our numbers will always be small. We won’t ever be a megachurch. I know many people who have megachurches and it’s isolating and I think that’s why some people don’t like that,” he said. “During the pandemic, I had a lot of challenges. I knew instinctively to be positive and uplifting, because it was a negative time. I started preaching love. Unity is love. The trappings of our exterior differences are just part of the grand tapestry of God’s work of humanity.”
Swope also enjoys having conversations with people who might not understand the church’s message. He had a neighbor complain about the church displaying a rainbow flag, showing support to the LGBT+ community. Swope explained that the teachings of Christ were inclusive and how the BCC welcomes any person searching for love.
“He said, ‘I thought God brought me here to teach you and correct you, but God’s teaching me,’” Swope said. “I love to see people’s hearts change. We have inaccurate perceptions about each other. If we take down that little shroud of darkness then we’d see the light.”
Swope is also a seminary-trained exorcist. He has worked with paranormal investigators, writers and production companies around the world. He is the author of several books covering supernatural events, haunted houses and possession and said there is a huge demand for information when it comes to the unfamiliar.
“Christians are sort of afraid of it. It’s the lure of the unknown and the forbidden. There are forces out there that are not explained,” he said.
The BCC is located at 150 N. 400 East with church services held on Sundays at 10:30 a.m., followed by coffee and refreshments. A special candlelight service will be held on Christmas Eve that the community is invited to attend. For information about the church, visit uccbccchurch.org.
“We always put our politics in our religion and that’s what kills it. When we stop looking after others, it’s a trap,” he said. “It’s not your dogma, it’s your heart, and what is that heart? It’s love. This church accepts anybody, everybody and just loves them. I’m going to be here for the rest of my life. I love my people and my people love me and it’s just great.” λ