By Cynthia Laird, Senatobia District Communications
A very large enthusiastic crowd came to Asbury United Methodist Church on August 19, 2013 for the Blessing of the Backpacks, and to hear God's word spoken by Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. The crowd first gathered in the fellowship hall and later in the sanctuary. The scene looked very much like an enthusiastic gathering in support of a winning team. But that is exactly what Christians are--each team members with something important to contribute in support of Jesus as they seek to reach others to join the heaven-bound team for the ultimate victory celebration.
Everyone was greeted warmly by senior pastor, the Rev. Zach Beasley, the staff and members of Asbury UMC and others who are part of the United Methodist Ministries of Marshall County. Also present was the chair of the Marshall County Cluster, Greg Campbell. The youth choir, "Go Praise" and Armastine Gipson and the adult choir, lifted up songs of praise that set the tone for the message from Swanson. Kris Dorr, Senatobia District children's coordinator, led the "Blessing of the Backpacks" as the crowd joined the children in a celebration and commitment to pray and support the children this school year.
Senatobia District superintendent, Rev. Andy Ray, introduced Swanson and mentioned some of the ways in which Swanson has been active not only in the ministry, but also in the communities where he has served. Swanson has been an example of a pastor who is appointed to both the church and the community. Ray also noted that this time of worship was also a celebration of Swanson's first anniversary as bishop of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church.