James E. Swanson, Sr. is a native of Houston, Texas. Swanson has a Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministries from Southern Bible College in Houston; a Master of Divinity from C. H. Mason Seminary, Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and a Doctorate of Humanities from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi.
Swanson is an ordained elder of the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church where he served as a pastor from 1981 to 2001. From June 1987 to June 2001, Swanson was the senior pastor at St. Mary’s Road United Methodist Church in Columbus, Georgia. This fruitful ministry saw the average attendance grow from 12 to over 550 under Swanson’s tenure. Also during this appointment, Swanson chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Activity, served as the chair of the board of commissioners of the Housing Authority of Columbus and was a founding chair of the board of directors of the South Columbus Community Health Center. Swanson led the St. Mary’s Road congregation in the construction of a new sanctuary and administrative complex. He was also the driving force behind the church’s renovation of the educational building and fellowship hall. In June 2001, Swanson was appointed as the district superintendent of the Savannah District.
Swanson was elected a bishop in The United Methodist Church and assigned to the Knoxville Episcopal Area in June 2004. He became resident bishop of the Mississippi Area September 1, 2012. Bishop Swanson is currently serving as the president of the General Commission on United Methodist Men. He is also a member of the Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church, the Path One Advisory Board and the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities.
He is married to Delphine Yvonne Ramsey Swanson. They are the proud parents of six children- Karen Swanson Jenkins, James, Jr., Shondell, Carlton, JaNae’ and Joshua. The Swansons also have ten grandchildren.