Bert C. Swearingen, a retired Presbyterian minister and member of the Presbytery of St. Augustine, died on Sunday morning February 23, 2020 in Fernandina Beach, Florida.
He is preceded in death by his parents Stephen B. Swearingen and Mary Neustadtl Swearingen and his brother Timothy “Tim” Swearingen.
Rev. Swearingen was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and attended the Duval County Public Schools. After graduating from Landon High School, he became a journeyman electrician with the Florida East Coast Railway for five years. Following that training he attended Jacksonville University earning a BA degree. After graduating in 1962 he felt a call to the ministry and went on to attend Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. During his tenure at JU he also worked for the Arlington YMCA and served as a coach at the Parkwood Heights Elementary School near Terry Parker High School, where he met his future wife who was a teacher there.
In December of 1962 Rev. Swearingen married Barbara Swearingen and they moved to Decatur, Georgia where he attended Columbia Theological Seminary and graduated with a BD degree in 1965. During the summers of 1963 and 1964 Rev. Swearingen served as a student minister at the Archer Presbyterian Church in Archer, Florida near Gainesville, Florida.
Following the graduation from Columbia Rev. Swearingen began his full-time career in the following Church pastorates:
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Leakesville, Mississippi 1965-1968
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Chipley, Florida 1968-1975
Organizing Pastor, Sunny Hills Florida Community Church 1972-1974
Pastor, Vidalia Georgia Presbyterian Church 1975-1987
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Hernando Mississippi 1987-1989
Pastor, Church on the Bayou Presbyterian Church Tarpon Springs, Florida 1989-1998
Rev. Swearingen also served several Presbytery Church camps during these years as camp manager or on camp committees especially at Dogwood Acres in the Florida Presbytery and Camp Montgomery in the St. Augustine Presbytery. Camp Montgomery is near Starke, Florida.
Rev. and Mrs. Swearingen retired in December 1998. At retirement they moved from Tarpon Springs, Florida to Fernandina Beach. In 1999 after being retired for 6 months the Presbytery of St Augustine requested that Rev. Swearingen take on a 6 month interim assignment at the Northside Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida. The 6 month interim turned into 13 years of being a Stated Supply there.
Rev. Bert Swearingen is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, two sons David Lee Swearingen and Stephen Adam Swearingen, sister Delores Doyle, brother Toby Swearingen, cousin Diane Rosenberg, and many more cousins, nieces, and nephews.
His other interests and activities: he was member of the Academy of Parish Clergy for more than 30 years, a volunteer AARP Driving Instructor for 17 years, a reader of historical literature and fiction, and he enjoyed carpentry and woodworking.
Anyone who would like to honor Bert’s memory may make a memorial gift to Camp Montgomery in Starke, Florida or Dogwood Acres in Vernon, Florida.
Funeral Service will be 11 AM Thursday February 27, 2020 in Evergreen Chapel. Interment will follow in Evergreen Cemetery. A visitation will be held in the chapel 30 minutes prior to the Funeral Service.
Arrangements are with Evergreen Funeral Home & Crematory 4535 Main Street Jacksonville, Florida 32206 (904) 353-3649.