Pastor Rick Newswanger arrived at the Lake Auburn Moravian Church in Victoria on October 6th, 2019. The church had been in a search process since Pastor Brian Dixon and his family accepted another call in 2019. Pastor Rick has already fallen in love with the Moravian Church and the Victoria community.
“I’m pleased to be here,” he said. “I feel very welcomed. I’m enjoying learning about Moravian traditions and practices that are different from other Protestant denominations. I’ve already been to a Moravian Music Workshop in Waconia.” Both theology and music rank high in Pastor Rick’s interest, education, and talent.
Pastor Rick came to Lake Auburn after serving 15 years at the United Presbyterian Church in Rockford, MN. He had also served part of 2019 as co-pastor with his wife Meg at the First Presbyterian Church in Maple Plain, where she had served as solo pastor since 2001.
“Meg and I met while I was at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago,” said Pastor Rick. “Meg is from Buffalo, New York and was attending McCormick seminary when we met.” They have two children. One daughter is married and lives in Glasgow, Scotland, where she studied for a semester as part of her undergraduate work, and where she met her husband. She works in the public library system and helps the schools in Glasgow keep their libraries strong and healthy. Their other daughter is a student who lives in Winona, Minnesota.
He said that his roots are Pennsylvania Dutch, both Mennonite and Amish. “I still have relatives there in Lancaster County,” he said. “My grandfather was Pennsylvania Dutch and had a deep and nurturing faith in God. It is my grandfather who had what I wanted—an abiding faith. I would have conversations with my grandfather. His name was Jacob. He was Mennonite. I wanted to have a spirituality like my grandfather’s. You could say that I became a Christian bit by bit and then all at once. That was me.” The Pennsylvania Dutch are made up of a range of religious groups of early German immigrants to Pennsylvania including Amish, Mennonite-Lutheran, German Reformed, Moravian, and others.
Pastor Rick grew up in California and didn’t leave California until he was 23 years old. He attended Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles and worked as a professional writer, screenwriter of promotional films, and copywriter before finding his vocation.
In 1982, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from California State University at Northridge, California. Extended family drew him “out east” where he connected further with his roots. It was in 1992 that he received his Master of Divinity degree at Chicago. In 2008 he received his advanced seminary degree, a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Education, at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
Pastor Rick is also an accomplished lifelong musician. Many of his instrumental and choral works have been performed throughout the United States. Some of his original guitar and piano compilations can be found online, where he calls himself “pastor, poet, husband, father, Californian, Jungian, human (mostly), Wodehousian, Lutheran, etc., a fan of meditative prayer and the Beatles.”
About his new home at the Lake Auburn Moravian Church in Victoria, Pastor Rick mused, “It’s like I’ve been looking for this and I didn’t know it. The attitudes on faith and worship at Lake Auburn are close to my heart. Together we offer the light that we have found. Meg loves it here too.”
Welcome to Lake Auburn Moravian Church, Rick and Meg Newswanger!