Member Stories: Betty

Betty Swinton has been a member of the Church of the Redeemer since 1965. When her husband received a job offer in the area she describes them as buying “The worst house in the best neighborhood and calling it a good investment.”

Both life-long Episcopalians, she and her husband “felt strongly that children should have a religious education.”  They raised their four children at the Redeemer, where most of them were baptized and two of them were married.  Her daughter Barbara even served as a youth representative to the Vestry and all of the children were involved in some sort of church-sponsored youth group. Betty describes the church as belonging to more of a “parish concept” back then, where most of the parishioners lived in the immediately surrounding community.

Betty has been a member through multiple Rector changes, citing Rev. Donald Bitsberger as the best preacher, and grateful to the last Rector, Rev. Dorsey McConnell for helping her through her grief when her husband died of lung cancer six years ago.

“I had many theological debates with Dorsey [someone known for his orthodox approach] because I think metaphorically… [yet] I’m a believer.” She describes herself as a lover of traditional liturgy despite her theological “cutting edge.”  There has always been room for theological discussion at the Redemer throughout the years. She particularly remembers discussing the virgin birth and other miracles with children as a Sunday School teacher when her children were little.

As an art historian, she appreciates being surrounded by the beautiful art of the church, its architecture, its stained glass windows, and its music.

Now, after so many years, she values most her personal history at the Redeemer and her friends. “I feel like I belong here, and that’s important when you are an old widow.”  She keeps connected as a member of the Eldercare Committee, taking the lead on planning a field trip for this fall, as well as adding her counsel to the Grounds Committee and the Pastoral Care Committee.

Betty credits the church for contributing to her children’s “upbringing of caring” which has lead all of them to persue nonprofit careers. She hopes the next phase of Redeemer life will support and relate to a younger congregation and its concerns as it did for her children. Although there might be a temptation in the future to move away from traditional Episcopal liturgy to accommodate those who were not raised in the church, she hopes the traditional liturgy will stay. “Liturgy is a large part of what makes us Episcopalians.”