Bishop Swanson Presents Son with Master of Divinity


By Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Communications Specialist, Mississippi Conference

Photo right: Bishop James Swanson Sr. shared the platform with Joshua Swanson. Photo credit JaNae Swanson-Brown.

Photo bottom right: Quick thinking on Joshua Swanson's part made this selfie with his father, Bishop James Swanson Sr., possible. Photo credit Joshua Swanson.  

The heartwarming moment between father and son captured Mississippi Conference Bishop James Swanson Sr. presenting a Master of Divinity diploma to his son Joshua Swanson.  
The younger Swanson graduated Monday, May 8 from Candler School of Theology, a part of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He certainly expected his dad to attend, but before walking across the stage, he grew suspicious the bishop would hand him his certificate, after a similar experience for another graduate.  Super excited about the possibility, he planned to have his cell phone camera ready for the big moment. 

"For him to be my motivation through so much of this and for him to be able to present it to me, it was a good thing.  He tried to shake my hand in a professional type manner but I was like you better give me a hug, and I grabbed him.  I got all giddy inside and thought -- let me take this selfie before I start tearing up," he said.
Kudos to the bishop for trying to keep his involvement a secret.  He said he nearly froze when it was time for him to move to the stage, but he quickly gained composure.
"He surprised me by pulling out his phone for the selfie. He was so proud that his dad was giving him that diploma and that is the part where I just about lost it.  It touched me deeply.  The whole day was just surreal," said the bishop.
Swanson said he began sensing the call to ministry after a trip to Israel with his father and members of the Mississippi Conference in 2014.   He said his dad's presence at graduation was representative of those from the conference who have encouraged him.
"There's been so many people in Mississippi who have helped me along the way and contacted me to say they were proud of me.  I want to say thank you to everyone," he stated.
Joshua Swanson has been appointed to Ketron Memorial United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tennessee.  The church is in the Holston Conference where Bishop Swanson served as episcopal leader before his appointment to the Mississippi Conference.

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