Fr. Matthew Swehla, Proistamenos
Father Matthew, the son of a former Lutheran pastor, was born in Modesto, California. He grew up attending the Lutheran church, until his father, disillusioned by the direction of the national church, left the ministry. A few years later his family visited the Orthodox cathedral of St. John Maximovich in San Francisco – on a whim because of a Russian exchange student they were hosting – and began their journey to Orthodoxy. Father Matthew entered the Church, along with his immediate family, when he was 15 years old.
After high school, Father Matthew attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, graduating from Medill School of Journalism in 2001 with majors in Journalism and in Middle Eastern Studies. Six months later he attended an OCF college conference, where he reconnected with Annie Nieuwsma, whom he’d known for years. They were married in July 2003 and then moved to Boston so that Annie could study music at Boston College. (During this time he received a graduate certificate in management from Harvard University.)
After nearly three years in Boston, they moved to San Jose, where they both became very involved in ministries at St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church: leading GOYA, conducting choir, chanting, and serving in the altar. It was here that Father Matthew felt the call to the priesthood. They moved back to Boston, this time with three children, and Father Matthew studied at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, receiving his M.Div. degree in May 2013. He was then assigned to serve at St. John the Baptist in Las Vegas, where he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on September 8, 2013 and served for four years as the second priest.
In 2017, Father Matthew was assigned as the proistamenos (presiding priest) of St. John the Baptist in Beaverton.
Father Matthew and Presvytera Annie have seven children: Dimas, Débora, Thomas, Peter, Nicholas, Joseph and Maria. When they aren’t at the church, they can often be found outdoors exploring local parks, hiking trails, or visiting the Oregon coast.
Dcn. Innocent Duchow-Pressley, Deacon
Deacon Innocent was born and raised in Southern California with his younger sister and brother. He began attending various Protestant churches when he was young, mostly through the influence and help of neighbors and friends.
He moved to Cottage Grove, Oregon for high school. After attending church with friends for a while, at the age of sixteen, he made his own decision to live for Jesus Christ. Deacon Innocent attended college at Lewis and Clark in Portland, Oregon, where he earned his degree in Chemistry. He then attended graduate school at both Lewis and Clark and Portland State University, where he received his teacher’s license and began teaching high school science. While in college, he met his future wife Sandy Duchow. They were married in 1987 in a small chapel in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Deacon Innocent remains a full-time high school science teacher, while Sandy is a neonatal intensive care nurse.
Both Deacon Innocent and Sandy attended various Protestant churches for the next decade, but never felt satisfied with their spiritual experience or the spiritual foundations of any of the churches they attended. With their son, Teddy (born in 1995), they began to look into the Orthodox Church. They were all received in the Orthodox Church in 1999. They had their second son, Samuel later that same year. Deacon Innocent was ordained to the Holy Diaconate on the Third Sunday of Lent, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, in 2004.
In addition to his duties as a deacon, Deacon Innocent has been active at St. John in both Youth Ministry and in the area of Missions and Evangelism.