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First Lutheran pastor sends gratitude, goodbye to Rugby congregation

By Staff | Aug 1, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Rugby First Lutheran Church Pastor Elaine Sveet sat at her desk as she prepared to say goodbye to her congregation. July 31 was Sveet’s last day at the church.

Pastor Elaine Sveet of Rugby’s First Lutheran Church spent the last week with her congregation chatting with well-wishers, writing her final sermon and putting lots of miles on her car.

“Our new house isn’t ready to move into yet, and the sale on our home in Rugby closed, so we’re living at Metigoshe right now,” she explained. “My son has to take the bus back to Bottineau today because he’s in the little league playoffs there.”

Sveet smiled as she described the inconveniences associated with moving. She and her family will relocate forty miles west of Rugby in Granville to be closer to where her husband, Erik works, she said.

“My husband’s the superintendent at TGU (School District),” Sveet said.

Sveet’s last day as pastor for First Lutheran Church was July 31.

“This will be a big change for me,” Sveet noted. “I’ve been in ministry for 18 years.”

“I’m not taking a call immediately with another church,” she added. “I’ve committed to our family that for the next two years, I would be home and focus on the kids. It’s really kind of a gift of time. It’s a wonderful opportunity at this stage. Our kids are 9, 11 and 13, so, we’re looking forward to that family time.”

“The pace of life with my husband’s job as a superintendent and myself as a pastor meant we were both working a lot of evenings,” Sveet added. “Then, with myself working weekends, it wasn’t leaving a lot of time for the kids. There’s a short amount of time where they’re going to be under our roof. So, this was a family decision.”

Sveet added, “The ministry here has been so good, so it’s hard to leave the parish.”

“But family-wise, we were getting stretched really thin,” Sveet said. “So, this is a family move.”

Sveet ministered to congregations in Barton and Leeds in addition to Rugby’s First Lutheran Church, which last year merged with Rugby’s Bethany Lutheran Church.

“For me to be present for the family more, it’s going to be really good,” Sveet said.

“My husband’s been serving for six years in his school district. He’s serving in Granville and Towner, and I’m serving the campuses of Rugby and Leeds, so there’s no overlap,” she added.

“All of the events he’s in are different from the ones I’m a part of, so to be able to have the same community events to go to, the same school functions will be just huge for the quality of our family life.” Sveet smiled.

“I’m already getting a lot of lovely invitations from churches in the Minot area, but we’re just going to put a pause on that for a little bit. But, it’s lovely to be invited,” Sveet added with a laugh.

Sveet said she and her family would miss Rugby, where Erik Sveet’s parents live.

“I think our kids are going to miss their friends, for sure,” Sveet said. “They’ve had a good experience at school here. And the sports they’ve been a part of, they’re going to miss that.”

Sveet added, “I think as a pastor, you’re a part of people’s lives in the big moments. Whether they’re the hard moments of grief at funerals or the high moments at weddings or baptisms or confirmations and all those church worship moments. I’m going to miss continuing to be a part of those families’ lives in the same way, for sure.”

Sveet said she was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada and served in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. She met her husband, who was teaching in Bowbells. at international church events in Portal.

Sveet accepted the Rugby calling after serving in churches in Canada and the United States. She said the Lutheran Church is in “full communion” with the Presbyterian and other Protestant denominations.

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