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Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, recipient of special president’s award, thanks late Bishop Talbert (UM Bishops)

November 19, 2023

The Council of Bishops extends congratulations to Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, as the recipient of one of two special President’s Awards for Ecumenical and Interfaith Leadership at the recent Christian Unity Gathering of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.  Bishop Swenson was honored for her long vocational career of ecumenical and interreligious leadership through: The United Methodist Church’s ecumenical ministries, the Guibord Center, Religions for Peace, the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC).  In her acceptance speech she acknowledged Bishop Mel Talbert and all he had taught both her and the larger church through his justice and equality-focused leadership.  She also thanked all the people who had journeyed with her through the Ecumenical Movement, naming it all as a blessing. 

The Christian Unity Gathering was held in Nashville, Tennessee in early October of 2023.  Among those present to witness Bishop Swenson receiving the award were United Methodists: Rev. Neil Gaiser, Rev. Tura Foster Gillespie, Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst, Rev. T.C. Morrow, Rev. Larry Pickens, Rev. Jennifer Copeland, Pastor Hannah Andres, Rev. Ellen Peach and Mr. Dave Reese. 

The other recipient of this special award was Rev. Dr. Renita Weems, who taught on the faculty of the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University, at Spelman College and at American Baptist College.  She was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in Old Testament studies.  

Both Rev. Dr. Weems and Bishop Swenson are pictured in the photo, along with: Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie (General Secretary of the NCC), Bishop Elizabeth Eaton (Vice President of the NCC), and Bishop Teresa Snorton (President of the NCC).