- Kent Svendsen: A Work in Progress
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Rev. Kent L. Svendsen 
United Methodist Elder
Church pastor since 1988 
Military Chaplain since 1994

Well, I guess I am a work in progress. I was born on a farm in northern Illinois and for many years was isolated from the rest of the world. Prejudice was very fined tuned within the community in which I was raised. For instance, it was quite clear to me that Catholics were different from Protestants and the two where not the same. (My sister married a Catholic in our Protestant church in 1967 and the priest threatened to excommunicate any Catholic who attended the ceremony.) My grandfather (who's Bible and hand written message eventually were key elements in God's calling on my life to be a minister) didn't exactly like my mother because she was German-American and not Scandinavian in ancestry. He also made sure that in his will he disinherited my uncle because he married a southern Democrat who was part Native American. Any one of those three things would have probably done the job.

I graduated from High School in 1970 and joined the service where I went from attending church every Sunday and "walking the straight and narrow path" to chorusing and debauchery without skipping a beat or without even having an ounce of guilt. (Which still amazes me today and causes me to have a passion for reaching teenagers.) After two tours of Vietnam, I came home with a nice little drug habit and a list of lewd adventures to add to my "sowing of wild oats". (Note: I was not in combat and was never even close to being in "harms way".)

I wandered through life in a drug and alcohol filled stupor for a few years (although I was able to work and keep several good jobs) until I met Paula. It was love at first sight and I was determined to do anything I had to win her over. I chased her and she allowed me to catch her. We married. (This last April we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.) Shortly after our first child was born, I was standing there one night holding the baby in a drug/alcohol stupor and I said out loud to myself. "Some day you will grow up and find a nice young man JUST LIKE ME. What a wake up call that was. The next words out of my mouth were, "I'd kill the guy like me that tries to get next to you."

What a contradiction! For you see, I didn't think that there was a thing wrong with me. I was then bound and determined to change my life and become the type of person that I would be proud to have my daughter date.

Since I never seem to be able to do anything half way, I immediately preceded to search for God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength in order to find out how I should change my life. The year was 1979.

In 1980 I had a "born again" experience which radically transformed my life and began a process of "progressive sanctification". (Progressive sanctification is the process by which one identifies and removes sin for their life.) In 1981, through a miraculous set of circumstances surrounding my grandfather's bible (which I inherited in 1962 when he died) and a hand written message he left in it, I was called into the ministry. By 1983 the Holy Spirit had weaned me off of the drugs and alcohol and I received the Baptism Of The Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. ( I do not believe that it is necessary to speak in tongues in order to have received the Baptism Of The Holy Spirit.)

I continued to study the Bible and remove sin from my life until I received a vision in early 1988 which directed me to begin denominational ministry. At the time of the vision, I was working part-time as a master control operator at a Christian TV station. (TBN affiliate Channel 35) Within six months I was a student pastor in a church and was enrolled in a Christian college to finish my BA. I completed my BA in 1989 and went on to complete my seminary education in 1992. In 1993 I attended Chaplain Officer Basic and began working as a military chaplain along with my church pastorate in 1994.

In 1997 I was finally ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and in 1998 officially received my military chaplaincy. (I had to become an Elder before I could become an official chaplain.) We have a multi-step process of ordination and it took me nine years from when I begun until I finished the process. (Finish M-Div / Ordained Deacon / Ordained Elder)

I have been serving churches for almost eleven years and have been serving as a military chaplain since 1994. I have rural, suburban and urban ministry experience which includes cross cultural experiences also.

Today I am the pastor of a small country church (with no neighbors) and Chaplain of the 1/178th Infantry (Air Assault) battalion with headquarters located on the near south side of Chicago. (Talk about a radical contrast of ministry experiences all wrapped up into one.) I will finish my Chaplain Officer Advance Course in October and will then being working on my Ph.D. in counseling.



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text © 1999 Rev. Kent Svendsen

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