About David

The Rev. Dr. David D. Swanson is the Senior Pastor and Head of Staff of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. He is also the founder and principal teacher for The Well, a national media ministry focused on presenting the gospel with fresh clarity and passion.  He is the author of four books: Everlasting LifeVital Signs: Discovering the Keys to Abundant Christian LivingLearning to Be You: How Our True Identity in Christ Sets Us Free, and The Essentials, a primer on the fundamentals of faith.

His congregation is part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and is among the largest Presbyterian churches in the country.  An active community leader, Dr. Swanson serves on the Board of Trustees for Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary; on the Board of Advisors for Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary Jacksonville; on the Executive Board of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, and as chair of the Subcommittee on Chronic Homelessness; and on the board of The Camaraderie Foundation.  He is also active in speaking for conferences and retreats around the country, especially in the area of marriage and family.

David and Leigh have been married for 28 years and have three grown children:  John David, 24, graduated UF and lives in Chattanooga, TN working in the commercial insurance business. He will be married in May, 2016. Alex, 23, graduated UF and lives in New Orleans, LA working in commercial banking. Kaylee, 21, is a junior nursing major at Auburn University.


Dr. Swanson’s preparation for ministry began through the faithful support and nurture of his home church in Dallas, Texas: Highland Park Presbyterian.  He received his undergraduate degree in business from Southern Methodist University, and prior to attending seminary, worked for several years in public relations for a computer software firm in the Dallas area.

Dr. Swanson completed his Master of Divinity studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary where he was awarded one of the top four graduate student fellowships. 

Pastoral Calling

He was called as Associate Pastor for Youth and Families at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, TN.  After four years in that position, he was called to a new position as Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Discipleship.  It was also during this time that Dr. Swanson received his Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian Leadership from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Dr. Swanson’s second pastorate was at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Ft. Myers, Florida where he served as Senior Pastor and Head of Staff.  During his five year ministry, the church welcomed more than 850 new members as that body recaptured a vision for its future as a servant of Christ.  It was also during this time that he served as the Director of the Christian Life Conference, a family renewal conference held annually in the summertime at Montreat, NC.

Dr. Swanson assumed the role of Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando in August of 2004.  With the help of many gifted leaders and a faithful congregation, he successfully led the church into its current home in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. This has resulted in a new vibrant, expectant spirit as First Pres looks to the future and God’s continued call upon her to serve in the community and around the world.

In his spare time, Dr. Swanson enjoys reading, running, playing pick-up basketball and golf.