Mary Swedenburg, was born in Reform, Pickens County, Alabama, and grew up in Hueytown, Jefferson County, Alabama. Her ties have been so close and strong to Pickens County that we have called her our own missionary.
She has warm memories of Addie Estelle Cox and the churches in Pickens County where she visited often with her father James (Jim) R. Swedenburg, Sr., who pastored here. Mary believes that Addie Cox was the key to her Dad’s love for missions and ultimately for hers. She remembers that Cross Roads Baptist, one of the churches where he pastored, collected money for Addie to carry a bicycle back with her to China. This church was always active in praying for missionaries.
Mary later considered Addie Cox to be her model – her mentor. She remembered that she and her sister Martha stopped on one occasion at Addie’s home in Carrollton when Addie was on furlough. Addie gave her a Chinese Gospel of John and took up so much time with them that Mary remembers even today how special it was to spend time with Miss Addie.
To understand Mary’s story, it will be helpful to us to look back at her family and her upbringing. Her father James Swedenburg, Sr., was from the Millport area and her mother, Trannie Ola was from Kennedy with many relatives in Pickens County. The Swedenburg family was sharecroppers in Millport and from this humble beginning went on to touch many lives over our association, the State of Alabama, and eventually over the world. Bro. Jim Swedenburg quit school to be a barber. It was then that he felt the call by God and knew that he would need to go back to school to be prepared to be a pastor. He became bi-vocational and although he had opportunities to enter the business world, he knew that God had called him as a “preacher.”