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Dr Dwight Swanson looking forward to a quiet retirement?

Homepage Feature — 29th June 2018

After 21 years of lecturing, Revd Dr Dwight Swanson will be retiring from NTC, but will continue his work supervising PhD students and his involvement with the Manchester Centre for the Study of Christianity and Islam [MCSCI].

“I’ve just completed my last year of teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students, some people are calling it retirement,” said Dr Swanson. “but it’s so I can devote all my time to MCSCI.”

Dr Swanson spent his years as a lecturer teaching undergraduate Old Testament and helping students grow in their faith and understanding of scripture.

“He’s got an incredibly dry sense of humour,” said Revd Dr Deirdre Brower Latz, Principal of NTC. “So initially students are bit like ‘Oh we don’t really understand this man,’ and then, as he keeps teaching, they’re suddenly like ‘oh my word, he’s not only incredibly knowledgeable about the Bible but he’s also funny!’ and so they sit, eagerly waiting for what he’s going to say.”

Teaching students from different countries and different walks of life has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of teaching, explained Dr Swanson.

“One of the great satisfactions is seeing students successfully move on,” he said. “The relationships with students are absolutely essential. The interesting thing is, you never do the same thing twice, because every year you have a different mixture of people and that’s always challenging, rewarding and fun.”

Dr Swanson has also spent time working to help shape and grow the college. He’s chaired a number of committees, helped guide the college through different times of transition, and has helped develop and grow MCSCI. “I would say in the last five years, MCSCI has become his total passion,” said Dr Deirdre Brower Latz. “So you’ve just watched, in terms of the development of somebody, he was just this really amazing Old Testament, Hebrew Scriptures guy and then in the last five years he’s delved into a whole new way of learning, thinking and stretching his mind.”

“The relationships with students are absolutely essential. The interesting thing is, you never do the same thing twice, because every year you have a different mixture of people and that’s always both challenging, rewarding and fun.”

While retiring from lecturing will give him more free time, Dr Swanson plans to use that time to follow his passion. “I’m not moving very far,” said Dr Swanson. “…a burden and opportunity for developing MCSCI to equip and encourage the church to minister, and engage with Muslims as our neighbours has become a high priority because this is the time where it’s so very important. The church needs to respond well and positively.”

Long-time friend and colleague, Revd Dr Canon Phil Rawlings, Co-Director for MCSCI, is looking forward to the time he will spend with Dr Swanson in the days to come. “He and I complement each other really well,” said Dr Rawlings, “My emphasis is on Christian-Muslim engagement, starting off dialogue, all that sort of stuff, and he is the proper academic and so his interest is in Quran and Bible comparative stuff. It’s just great working with him and I think we’ve actually got a really good team here that does well.”

Reflecting back over his time at NTC, Dr Swanson has found that different focuses have come to light and his faith has continually guided him. “My grounding is in the local church where theological teaching has to be grounded in real people. That’s part of why engagement with Muslims is so important because they are our neighbours.” said Dr Swanson.

After working for so many years in many different areas, Dr Swanson has helped NTC become what it is today. “My entire life at the college has been shaped by Dwight,” said Dr Deirdre Brower Latz. “And he’s wonderful.”

With the MCSCI being on NTC’s campus, Dr Swanson will still be seen regularly. “It’s just the teaching part of undergraduate level [that I’m moving away from], which I’m sure will not cease completely.” said Dr Swanson. “I’m not yet aware of what I’m going to miss as long as I continue to be able meet up with students whether I’m teaching them or not.”