Bishop Swanson Honored on Miss. State Senate Floor
By Jasmine Haynes
JACKSON, Miss. – Episcopal leader of the Mississippi Area, Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., became the recipient of Senate Resolution 22 Tuesday, February 22, 2022. The resolution commended Bishop Swanson’s tenure as the resident bishop of the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church, for his spiritual and charitable contributions to the State of Mississippi and recognized him as the first African American bishop to lead the Mississippi Conference.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hoseman introduced Swanson, who then opened the Mississippi State Senate session up with prayer and shortly thereafter was escorted to the podium, along with Mrs. Swanson, to receive the resolution.
“It is not every day that someone investigates your heart and is able to see the real motivation that is there. I truly lost my composure,” said Swanson. “I was overwhelmed with a spirit of humility and appreciation for Senator Bart Williams.”
Representing district 15, Senator Bart Williams, who also serves as mission chair, member of the staff parish relations committee (SPRC) and lay member to annual conference at First United Methodist Church of Starkville, authored and presented the resolution to Bishop Swanson. Williams shared that he put forth the resolution because he knew that Bishop Swanson was retiring soon and wanted to honor his service.
“It really was a privilege and an honor to have Bishop Swanson, Mrs. Swanson and conference representatives with us that day,” said Williams.
Bishop Swanson was not the only one honor at the Mississippi State Capitol. February 22 is also Bishop Swanson’s wife, Delphine Swanson’s birthday and the floor recognized her special day.
“I was overwhelmed with joy to receive a standing ovation and birthday greeting from the Mississippi Senate,” shared Mrs. Swanson. “I was surprised, excited and honored—many thanks to each of them for their expressions of love.”
Rev. Dr. Stephen Cook, West Jackson District Superintendent and dean of the Mississippi Conference Cabinet, explained that the recognition of Bishop Swanson was well-deserving of the dynamic episcopacy leader.
“He leads with courage, intentionality, innovation and a spirit of hospitality,” shared Cook.
Bishop Swanson was elected a bishop of The United Methodist Church during the 2004 Southeastern Jurisdiction Conference. He was assigned to the Holston Conference where the episcopal office is located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Swanson served the Holston Conference for eight years. Under his leadership, the Sudan Mission initiated and the number of United Methodist congregations in Sudan grew from three to 30 between 2006 and 2012. Swanson began his tenure in Mississippi Sept. 1, 2012. He traveled to the Mississippi Gulf Coast the day before that so that he could be with those affected by Hurricane Isaac, which devastated coastal communities. Under Swanson’s leadership, the Mississippi Conference has raised millions of dollars for United Methodist-related Africa University, Imagine No Malaria – a campaign to prevent and treat malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa, numerous mission and disaster relief aid projects right here at home in Mississippi and around the connection with United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
Swanson currently serves as the president of the General Commission of United Methodist Men (GCUMM) and on the board of trustees for Emory University, Rust College and Millsaps College. Bishop Swanson will be retiring in July at the conclusion of the 2022 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference and had this to say in reflection of the distinguished honor in light of his residency in Mississippi:
“I felt embraced as I looked around the Senate Chamber and felt the support of Delphine, members of the Mississippi Annual Conference Cabinet and staff and the United Methodist State Senators. I will cherish this day for the rest of the journey of life.”