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Raymond Bernard Swafford is the son of the late Joseph and Lavinia Swafford.  Raymond Swafford was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois.  Raymond accepted Christ at an early age, where he attended, Bethel AME Church, with his parents and sister, Janis.  His parents emphasized the importance of a Christian upbringing, by reading the Bible individually and as family, attending Prayer Meeting and church regularly (every Sunday). 


Raymond Swafford received his elementary education in the Evanston public school system.  After graduating from Evanston Township High School in 1976, Raymond went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL. 


Following his graduation from IIT, Raymond, moved to Florence, AL, and began attending the Greater St. Paul AME Church, where he served as Steward, Christian Education Director, Sunday School teacher, and on the Usher Board.  He accepted his call into the ministry in August 1987.  In November, 1988, Raymond was sent to function as pastor of Hopewell AME Church, Florence, AL, until an ordained minister could be found.  This temporary position became permanent, when Raymond Swafford, was ordained an Itinerant Deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in October 1989, and later an Elder in 1991.  He remained the pastor of Hopewell until October 1993, at which time Raymond Swafford was sent to pastor Oak Grove AME Church, Florence, AL.


Raymond B. Swafford, pastored of Oak Grove AME Church, from October 1993 till November 2017.  Under his tenure, Oak Grove paved a parking lot, built a fellowship hall, installed central heat and air conditioning, and purchased a public address system and many other improvements.  Rev. Swafford's primary goal is that under his watch as the shepherd, the congregation grow spiritually, financially, and physically.


Pastor Raymond Swafford is very devoted to the young people in his congregation.  He does whatever it takes to get them to be all they need to be, whether it involves driving the van, writing skits, directing skits, or just being there to support them.  For a period of time, Raymond Swafford, a second degree black belt in Chinese Kempo, conducted a martial arts class out of the fellowship hall of the church for the young people of Oak Grove.  Those who have grown up under his watch, still seek out his advice for school, getting a job or just life struggles.


Raymond Swafford is presently the proud pastor of Hopewell AME Church, Birmingham, AL, in the Kingston neighborhood.

Rev. Raymond Bernard Swafford

For We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight



Hopewell is a loving church that has been a beacon of light in the Kingston Community of Birmingham since 1899. The focus of Hopewell is to help the congregation and the surrounding community grow in the knowledge of the Word of God, and seek the will of God in every aspect of their lives. At Hopewell, there are many ministry opportunities to help grow the kingdom of God, and all are encouraged to get involved in the work of the Lord.

Rev. Raymond B. Swafford, Pastor

Elder Dwight Dillard, Presiding Elder

Rev. Sherita M. Seawright, Episcopal Supervisor

Rt. Rev. Harry L. Seawright, Presiding Bishop





The following is a partial list of the many ministries of Hopewell:

• Teen Ministry • Senior Ministry • Children & Youth Church Ministry

• Young Adult Ministry (Koinonia) • Couples Ministry

• Soup Kitchen Ministry

• Women’s Ministry (Daughters of Zion)

• Men’s Ministry (Sons of Allen) • Health Ministry

• Media Ministry

• Public Relations & Marketing Ministry

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