Bishop Swanson Reconsecrates Church Renamed in His Honor


By Jasmine Haynes, Communications Specialist

Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., some of the cabinet and a few lay and clergy from the Greenwood District gathered in December for a service of relocation, renaming and reconsecration of what is now Swanson United Methodist Church. Due to COVID protocols, only a few representatives from the former Glendora and Barwick United Methodist churches were there to celebrate their cooperative ministry, acknowledge Swanson UMC’s roots and discuss the vision for its future. Sykes Sturdivant, a member from the former Glendora UMC, reflected on special moments there as he handed the deed over to the newly renamed congregation.

(l to r) Rev. Rusty Keen, Rev. Kenny Wade
and Bishop James E. Swanson Sr.

“When I see the yard and the building—the whole thing just looks great,” said Sturdivant. “This is where I was baptized—this is my home, so you might see me every now and then.”

Located in the Greenwood District, Swanson UMC’s building was owned by Glendora UMC, a predominately white congregation, and will now mostly consist of members from the former Barwick UMC, a predominately African American congregation.

Rev. Steven “Rusty” Keen, Greenwood District Superintendent, shared that he felt it was appropriate for this church to be renamed in honor of the Mississippi Conference’s first African American bishop, and he was excited about partnering with the faith community formation and connectional ministries’ offices for visioning Swanson UMC’s future.

“I’m praying for growth and revitalization and praying that just as God’s spirit worked in this man [Sturdivant] who was baptized here, that God will continue to work here at Swanson United Methodist Church,” said Keen.

After Sturdivant passed the deed to Swanson UMC’s new pastor, Rev. Kenny Wade, and other Swanson UMC laity, Bishop Swanson address those present and reminded them that it is said that the most segregated hour in America is 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. He shared that in our state, we’ve suffered many years trying to find a way to truly live out being the sons and daughters of God who are different men and women of different colors and hues and different stations in life. Swanson said that he thanks God that we’ve lived long enough to see the transition into living that out take place and he hopes that this be a moment where The United Methodist Church say to the world, ‘we’re coming home.’

“What I mean by that is that the church began on the day of Pentecost, and it was not a segregated church,” explained Swanson. “Go back and read it and you will see all of the different nations that were represented when the Holy Spirit fell and the church at that time was open to everybody. It was God’s desire that we all be together.”  

Bishop Swanson concluded his response by encouraging the new Swanson UMC to let people know that anyone who comes will be welcome there and that God has never given people anything to stay the way it is. He always desires that we go out and multiply, replenish and make things greater than they were when God gave them to us.

“God’s dream for you is always bigger than your dream for yourself. The curse of humanity is low expectations,” said Swanson. “Eyes have not seen, and ears have not heard, nor has it entered into the imagination of those who love Him. Don’t put any limits on God.”
(l to r) Wendell Brown, Truman Johnson, LaTrinda Wade, Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., Sykes Sturdivant, Rev. Kenny Wade and Rev. Rusty Keen

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