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Methodists Pick African American Bishop

Posted by Heather Black | July 24, 2012 / 04:53pm | Local News
STARKVILLE, Ms. (WCBI)--Methodist churches throughout Mississippi may be seeing some positive changes in the near future.

History is made in Mississippi...Methodist pastors throughout the state of Mississippi are looking forward to the new leadership of Bishop James Swanson. Swanson will take his spot on September 1st as the first African American Bishop for the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Pastor Giles Lindley, the Senior Pastor at First Methodist Church in Starkville sat down with us to share his reaction about the new bishop.

"I think everybody is kind of excited and nervous anytime you get a new boss, a new bishop there is a little fear and trepidation, but I think people have heard good things about him. And he just has a good feel, he has Mississippi roots he has got some Mississippi connection and we think, I think most pastors are excited about this appointment," said Lindley.

Bishop Swanson preached in June at the annual conference in Jackson, Mississippi where pastors got to experience his passion.

"Well he seems to be a very energetic person and the church always needs new energy, new ideas we have to hold fast to our traditions and to our core values, but at the same time the world is changing so we need people who can come out and see new ways of sharing the good news and I think Bishop Swanson will bring that to us," said Lindley.

The District Superintendent of Starkville, Embra Jackson, hopes churches throughout communities will become more diverse once Bishop Swanson takes his position.

"Many of our churches are predominantly one race or another and I think by having the Bishop who is African American it may encourage our churches to reach out into larger communities to bring in people who are not ethnically the same as they are or the racially the same as they are," said Jackson.

Not only are pastors expecting to see positive changes in the church, but also for the state of Mississippi.

"Because unfortunately we often have a negative reputation and many places this shows that Mississippi has changed and that a person is judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin," said Jackson.

Swanson served as Bishop for eight years in Tennessee and North Carolina.
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