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Mike Swagerty

Sandy and Mike Swagerty

Mike Swagerty’s career track made a radical turn at a young age. He explains: “I have never been convicted as an arsonist, but as a child I am afraid I was a budding pyromaniac. At age eight I started a fire on our farm that nearly burned down all the houses and out-buildings. Needless to say the punishment that was forthcoming basically got me over my ‘fire bug’ ways.” Mike has replaced pyromania with playing cards. “I love to play cards, especially bridge. I have belonged to a Thursday night bridge group for many years.”

Mike, who pastors GCI’s church in Sacramento, California, lives about 100 miles from where he grew up. “I grew up on a peach farm about 11 miles southeast of Modesto. I never moved from birth until college from that farm. After being accepted to college and being ordained a minister at graduation, I simply moved wherever HQ told me to go. My first assignment was in Toledo, Ohio and my last transfer was to Sacramento in 1991.”

At age 15, Mike started listening to The World Tomorrow radio broadcast. “I remember the question on the broadcast that caught my interest: ‘Why were you born?’ This led to booklets, 58 Correspondence Course lessons, magazines and then applying to college after my graduation from high school. I became a baptized member of GCI during my freshman year at Ambassador College in 1964.”

Mike and his wife Sandy will celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary in May 2014. “I met Sandy while we were in college in Pasadena. Funny that we didn’t even date until we were seniors. Our final week was a real whirlwind. We got married on a Sunday. We graduated and I was ordained the following Friday. By Monday we were headed for Toledo, Ohio, our first pastoral assignment.”

Mike and Sandy have two sons. “Terry, our first, was born while we were finishing our stay in Toledo. He was only three weeks old when we traveled to New Jersey. Our second son, Robert, was born in New Jersey. Terry is now 44 and Robert is 40. We have four grandchildren—a boy and a girl from each son. The boys are Jakob and AJ,and the girls are Trinity and Maddie.”

When asked what he enjoys most about being a pastor, make replied: “There’s almost nothing I don’t enjoy—even the paperwork. But my greatest love is sharing the lives of people. I have met so many interesting people over the years and I never get tired of hearing their stories.”

Mike has several stories of his own. “The one that stands out is a baptism in a stream. I was in my suit and didn’t have a bathing suit. So I took off my socks and shoes, and my coat and tie, and rolled up my pants. I was baptizing a lady and her adult daughter. The bottom of this stream was covered with round stones that had moss growing on them. The footing was treacherous. Just as I bent over to lower the daughter into the water, my foot slipped and the whole crotch of my pants tore from one end to the other, leaving me just a bit exposed! Not to be defeated, I tied my coat around my waist like an apron and we finished the baptism. Funny thing, the mother was a seamstress and we went back to her house where she sewed up my pants!

Sandy is a big part of Mike’s ministry. “Besides helping me with office work, visitation and all the normal things pastors’ wives do, Sandy has hosted a women’s small group at our home for 18 years. She has been involved as a singer on the worship team for our entire 22 years here. She has been very much involved with Connecting and Bonding, which is an outreach to ministers’ wives led by Jannice May. Sandy is a prayer warrior, never missing the opportunity to add to her considerable prayer list. She also works as a cashier at Target, where I refer to her as “Mother Teresa,” as she is always a good listener, comfort giver, and prayer partner for all who come through her line.”

When asked what he loves about GCI, Mike shared, “The fellowship and the many friends. We have folks scattered all over the world that we consider friends. I know of no other church denomination that can say this.”

When asked about his passion, Mike said, “My passion right now is to pass along my faith to the next generation. I am very active in the lives of my children and grandchildren. In the last two years I have found a real interest in summer camp. I am part of the team preparing to start a new GenMin camp at Lake Tahoe.”

Mike feels closest to God “in the early morning, and especially in the beauty of his creation. I love my morning time spent with God at around sunrise each day.”

8 thoughts on “Mike Swagerty”

  1. Mike, now I know why your moniker was “bomb thrower.” I don’t think your punishment really got you over your fire-bug ways! God bless! Ray and Carol

  2. Nice to hear from you – all those experiences – a life full of good memories. Blessings to you and Sandy.

  3. It is great to hear your story. We really enjoyed you
    when you served churches in the Chicago area “back in the day”…lots of basketball!! We love you and may God continue to bless your participation with Jesus in His ministry.

    Ivan Lane

  4. If only I could find the words to express just how much I appreciate you and Sandy…but I just can’t seem to find them. A simple THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART will have to do. May God continue to bless and inspire you both and to bless your ministry.

  5. Excellent, interesting write up! I have to agree with Ray, Mike did not receive full rehab for his pyromania. We meet every month as pastors in N. California at Steve and Karon Smith’s home, in fact we are meeting today. We will take council together to bring Mike to justice! Seriously though, Mike is the ideal district pastoral leader. He has the gift of being interesting, non-judgmental, to the point, always available, and fun all at the same time. Quite a great combination.

  6. Mike and Sandy, you have been an inspiration to Charlie and I for many years. Your wisdom, insight, love and patience were of great importance to us during some critical years. You two are a real team. God bless you!

  7. Mike & Sandy, it’s been an honor to serve in your district and meet with Mike monthly. We always get to the “rusty rod of reality” with your bottom-line approach. It’s always a refreshing “what you see is what you get” experience void of any “religious” barriers or airs of superiority. Down to earth, man. Stay there where you make all of us feel comfortable.

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