As associate professor of world mission and evangelism, the Rev. Dr. Johannes “Jannie” Swart combines a remarkable breadth of mission experience, new church development work, pastoral leadership in both large and small churches, a scholarly expertise in congregational mission and leadership. With a doctorate from Luther Theological Seminary, he has a unique ability to help students and congregations think theologically about ministry in the 21st century.
Jannie has both an evangelical heart and a love for social justice, which led him to participate actively as a young man in bringing about the end of apartheid in South Africa, his home country. Those who’ve studied with Jannie know he’s fond of asserting that Christian leaders are called to be “detectives of divinity”—to assume that, in any given group of people, God is already at work, so it is the Christian’s missional role to discover how God is working and then help foster and facilitate that work.
Jannie did just that as the national director of training and development for the Democratic Party in South Africa—at the time, a new political party opposing the apartheid policies of the National Party—prior to Nelson Mandela’s release, the unbanning of the African National Congress, and the establishment of democracy. In Johannesburg, Jannie served as senior pastor of Fontainebleau Community Church—a Dutch Reformed mega-church—during its post-apartheid efforts to become more multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-lingual. Earlier, he led a new-church development among college students at an emerging technicon campus in Cape Town while also serving at Tafelberg Dutch Reformed Church.
While pursuing his doctorate in Minnesota, Jannie served an Episcopal church as director of intergenerational faith formation; the Church Innovations Institute as director of partnership for missional church; and the Allelon Foundation of Boise, Idaho, as research assistant for its Mission in Western Culture Project. After completing his doctorate he accepted a call to pastor Second Presbyterian Church in Oil City, Pa., and an adjunct position at Pittsburgh Seminary before joining our faculty full time last year.
Already with a full slate of outside speaking engagements and courses to teach, Jannie is also collaborating with faculty and administrators at Pittsburgh Seminary to further Christian mission at home and abroad: Director of World Mission Don Dawson, Professor of Urban Ministry Drew Smith, Director of the Metro-Urban Institute Kimberly Merrell ’07, Director of Continuing Education Helen Blier, and alumnae/i, faculty, and staff involved in church planting initiatives, in addition to Vera White, based here on our campus as associate for Presbyterian Mission’s 1001 New Worshipping Communities.
Bridging the Word and the world is central to Jannie’s life and mission—as it is at Pittsburgh Seminary!