Phil and Pat Swyers: A legacy of leadership
Western leaders enter retirement after 92 joint years of service.
by Sue Schumann Warner –
Roaring into the West like a Texas tornado—powered by faith and energized by joy—territorial leaders Commissioners Phil and Pat Swyers have devoted the past five and a half years to growing an Army “on the move.”
And what an Army it is!
During their tenure as territorial commander and territorial president of women’s ministries, the West has experienced: the largest number of cadets in the College for Officer Training in many years; the explosive growth of the women’s ministries WOW (Win One Woman) program; the creation of a territorial band and territorial songsters, and territorial youth band and chorus; its first Western Bible Conference; and the enrollment of 4,288 senior and 3,614 junior soldiers. The Swyers have commissioned 115 new officers.
In addition, in San Francisco, Calif; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and Salem, Ore. communities have been enriched with new Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers; the Army has broken ground on centers in Honolulu, Hawaii and Phoenix, Ariz.
“All we have to do as Salvationists is to take advantage of the opportunities we have,” Swyers has stated. “There are no boundaries restricting us from growth.”
Opportunities for ministry
Swyers’ boundless energy was evident from the moment the West welcomed its new leaders in January 2005. “Life in this great Army has once again brought exciting opportunities to us,” stated Commissioner Phil, as he and Commissioner Pat assumed their new responsibilities.
Clearly “people persons,” they have made personal relationships a priority and emphasized the importance of this in strengthening programs and motivating personnel. In light of this commitment, they personally visited 85 percent of the Army’s centers in the territory.
“Ouryears in this wonderful Western Territory have given us tremendous opportunities of service that have blessed us beyond measure,” stated Commissioner Pat Swyers. “A memory that will long linger in my mind is the Territorial WOW Celebration for women. It was the first territorial conference in 10 years and the beginning of our WOW Initiative. Since then, the positive results have been many, including new conversions, and 1,196 new senior soldiers made just from women’s ministries, as families were brought into our wonderful Salvation Army fellowship.”
Commissioners Phil and Pat are both life-long Salvationists and have served in three of the four USA territories in field, divisional, and territorial appointments. They have been strong supporters of missionary work throughout their officership.
Commissioner Phil grew up in the home of officer parents and entered the College for Officer Training (CFOT) from the Dallas (Temple) Corps, Texas, following studies in business at North Texas State University in finance. As a member of the Messengers of Faith Session, he was appointed as a cadet-lieutenant to Augusta, Ga. in 1967 only to be returned to the CFOT as a staff member of his session. He was commissioned in 1968.
Commissioner Patricia entered CFOT from the Charlotte (Belmont), N.C. corps as a Soldier of Christ in the first two-year session, and was commissioned in 1962.
Marriage on Dec. 21, 1968 joined (then) Lieutenant Phil Swyers and Captain Patricia Lowery, and they began their adventure in joint ministry as corps officers in Dallas (Oak Cliff), Texas. Following their appointment to the Abilene, Texas, corps, the Swyers were appointed to divisional headquarters in finance work.
Together they have served in six divisional headquarters. Commissioner Phil Swyers has served on several national conferences and in 1988 was appointed to the International College for Officers in London, England.
Commissioner Pat has served in numerous positions in programming and has held appointments in every women’s ministries position at divisional and territorial headquarters. Her passion and vision for ministering to women, families, and communities has made a lasting difference for God and the Army.
Upon retiring July 1, 2010, Commissioner Phil will have served 43 years and 22 days and Commissioner Pat 49 years and 22 days.
The Swyers are proud of their two sons, Captain Philip Swyers, Jr. and David Swyers, and they are blessed with six wonderful grandchildren.
“We leave the Western Territory grateful to God for the wonderful opportunities we have been afforded to serve alongside the many officers, soldiers, employees and friends who have encouraged and supported them in their ministry,” they said.
Upon their retirement, they also leave the West a legacy of leadership, purpose, ministry—and joy.