Pastor Bob Swope
March 8, 1952 – October 12, 2012
Bob’s life consisted of loving God and loving people.
SALEM – On March 8, 1952, Robert & Geri Swope welcomed into this world and into their home, Robert Randall Swope. Bob was raised in the Brooks / Gervais area. His father and mother, who pastored Brooks Assembly of God, were so very instrumental in shaping Bob into the person he became. They always encouraged him to explore and develop the many talents he had been given. They taught him to love people and most importantly, to love God with his whole heart. As a young man, they taught him to be involved in every aspect of service, from cleaning his father’s church, helping friends and neighbors, to teaching children. While working with children, his many talents began to develop. He was an amazing artist and could hold his audiences spellbound with his stories.
As a young boy, he was very bashful. His mother bought him a vent puppet to help him “break the ice”. The puppet literally opened up a whole new world for hm. He soon graduated from his small puppet “Charlie”. Charlie has been his sidekick for 43 years. They have seen the world together, as they ministered to thousands.
Bob participated in many mission trips as a youth. It was on one of these trips that he met his wife, Mary. For them it was “love at first sight”. Dating through high school, they married in 1971.
Bob knew God had specifically called him to work with children. They bought a truck and RV and began conducting “Kids Krusades” nationwide, traveling to a different city every week. In 1974 their son, Robert Randall Jr., was born, and they continued to travel in ministry.
In 1976, they settled in Salem, Oregon, where Bob was the Children’s Pastor at Christian Center. He was one of the Assemblies of God’s first full time Children’s Pastors. 1979 brought the birth of their daughter, Jennifer Ranaa. This was an extremely busy time in their lives. Their summers were filled with Kid’s Camps. Ministering to children was Bob’s greatest joy.
At this time, Bob designed and built one of the first children’s auditoriums. Bob never ran out of ideas and you know they were always “out of the box”.
People would often say, “Why are you doing it this way?” His reply was “The methods may change but the message stays the same. Use every idea God gives you.”
Bob was certainly not a loner in ministry. He needed, loved, and appreciated “team work”. There wasn’t anything he did that wasn’t helped by friends and team members. Thank you, to all who many times, willingly gave of their time and talents to accomplish one of Bob’s “God-given” dreams!
There were many inspirational moments like this: He would be sitting at a table, and he would ask for a pen. Then he would take any available paper and begin to draw. The idea would go from a basic sketch to a full event production.
A special adventure in his life was when he developed the “Market Street” Puppet Team. He and his team would travel to many places, touching so many lives. The friendships that developed have been life long. The opportunity to work with Bob gave the kids “life changing” experiences.
In 1986, Bob accepted an Associate Pastor position in Anchorage, Alaska. They loved every moment in the “snowy” north. He was never more confident than then, that God loved him.
He loved to create and direct special events. Bob believed in reaching people and knew that with hard work, creative planning, and the blessing of the Lord, you can impact hundreds of lives.
In 1988, they moved to Los Angeles, California to join a truly international church. Bob loved diversity. Outreach was what kept him motivated and he loved every “whosoever”!
In 1990, Bob accepted the pastorate in Rogue River, Oregon. No matter where they were, people were #1. Bob loved working with the community leaders. He encouraged his congregations to be involved as, “we are the light of the world”.
In 1996, they moved to Dallas, Oregon as pastors of Valley Life Center. They fell in love with the community of Dallas. While in Dallas, their grandchildren came into their lives, Max, Amanda, Emma, & Lincoln. Bob loved them so much.
In 2007, they accepted the pastorate of Westgate Church in Salem, Oregon. Bob was so excited to be back in Salem, with so many friends who span 40 years. He had dreamed of a “Drive -In” church service for several years and the property at Westgate was perfect. What started out to be a one-time Easter Sunrise Service became a weekly service. He said many times that it was his favorite.
A celebration of Bob’s life is planned for Saturday, October 27th at 1:00PM at Morning Star Community Church (4775 27th Ave. SE, Salem, Oregon 97302). Private interment was held at the Dallas Cemetery. Memorial contributions are suggested, in lieu of flowers, to the Bob Swope Memorial Fund, and may be sent in care of Dallas Mortuary Tribute Center (287 SW Washington St., Dallas, Oregon, 97338) who is handling the arrangements. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.dallastribute.com
Special Note From Mary...
There was never a dull moment in Bob’s life. Each of you probably has a favorite story he told. God gave me the privilege of partnering with one of the greatest men I know. We were “best friends from the start”. At times, I found it hard to keep up! He was the most kind, loving, gentle, generous, and patient man in the world. And God was always first and he never wavered from the call that God placed on his heart.
Our lives have been changed forever.
Not because Bob is gone, but because he was here!