Warren native returns to resume his mission
Pastor James Swanson is back again, and on a mission.
After serving 10 years in Michigan, Swanson and his family have returned to continue his work.
“My life has really come full circle,” Swanson said.
His story starts right here in Warren on Hatch Run Road.
Growing up, he sensed a calling to the ministry, but admitted that he originally had no idea how to communicate his thoughts to his parents. After confiding in others he trusted, he was convinced he was meant for divine work.
After graduating from Warren Area High School, Swanson joined the Navy in 1987 with the intention to later pursue further education with his strong faith. He loved the idea of serving our country and seeing the world. However, he was stationed in Washington D.C. and never once saw the ocean, let alone a ship while in service.
After four years active duty, Swanson began his education at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts. He then earned his Master in Divinity at the Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
Thinking he would always be a pastor at the seminary, Swanson was surprised when he was asked to work at the Scandia Covenant Church in Russell. He didn’t understand why, but after working there 11 years and loving the church and community, he sensed it was time for change and growth, not only for himself, but for the church as well, according to him.
“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” Swanson said, but was sure the decision to be open to new assignments was the next step.
He was matched with Grace Covenant Church, in Iron River, Michigan located in the upper peninsula, right under Lake Superior.
A few years passed and Swanson felt that there was a bigger reason for his presence there. He and his wife soon met a family involved in foster care, and this is where his true work began. Through their newfound friendship they became aware of the abundance of children needing foster care and permanent homes.
Nearly half a million children are in foster care in the U.S. In Michigan, there are about 13,000 in foster care with about 300 who are in need of permanent homes. These alarming numbers caught the attention of Swanson, his wife and two children, and they became eager to help.
The family’s friends were fostering three children at the time, and the Swansons grew close, falling in love with them. The family followed the children’s case, provided support and eventually filed for adoption.
While maintaining their foster license, more children flowed in and out of the Swanson home until another group of 3 siblings came along. These three children would eventually also be adopted by Swanson and his family. Making the Swansons a big, loving family of 10.
Swanson’s time ended in Michigan when he was asked to come back to Warren and continue his work at Pleasant Community Church. He is excited to get started and to continue his mission here. Moving forward, he has a lot of plans to keep supporting children and families while also encouraging families to look into fostering.
“It’s really neat, and very rewarding,” said Swanson.
He appreciates any chance to empower foster parents and help them in any way that he can.
“I want people to know that I am here and I care when you think that no one else does.”
He plans to make new connections in the area, advocate for healthy and strong families, and create an inclusive culture where everyone can come to feel loved and supported.
“I really see myself as being everyone’s pastor,” Swanson said. “I love being a pastor, I want people to know that they can count on me in the critical moments in their lives.”
His installation service will be held this Sunday at Pleasant Community Church at 11 a.m. He will share more of his story and his plans for his new community. Everyone is open to attend.