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Leap of faith: 22-year-old fills the pulpit at Crestview

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By Kayla Vaughn

In some ways, Casey Swails is a typical 22-year-old. He just graduated from college and plans to get married in June.
But few people his age step into the pulpit and preach to their very own congregation every Sunday, as he does at Lancaster’s Crestview Baptist Church.
Born and raised in Lugoff, Swails grew up in church but never imagined as a child that he would end up in this position.
Swails says he was saved in June 2012 and that he began to feel God working through him in the past few years after he started attending Charleston Southern University.
“I went into college expecting to study criminal justice,” he said. “It was about halfway through my freshman year when the Lord started working on me and leading me in a different direction.
“I felt like he was calling me to go to churches and really just focus on the gospel.”
Swails traveled to churches all around the state, ministering to those that were without a pastor or just seeking guest speakers. “I want to tell people how Christ changed my life and how he can change theirs,” he said.
Crestview called one of Swails’ professors seeking a stand-in pastor until they found one. He preached there often for about a year until they offered him a job around September of last year.
“I prayed about it and decided I don’t have a whole lot of experience,” he said. “But I realized if I was going to take the position I couldn’t do it by myself. I knew I would have to rely on the Lord.
“If he would have me take this position, then he would give me the strength to do it.”
Crestview has welcomed Swails and his future wife, Ariel Smith, with open arms. “I couldn’t ask for a better church and couldn’t ask for a better family,” he said.
He has been traveling back and forth from Charleston, Monday through Thursday, to Lancaster, Friday through Sunday. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Christian studies, Swails says he can’t wait to move to Lancaster full time.
His fiancee, Ariel is in a long-term substitute teaching position at McDonald Green Elementary for now but will start a full-time teaching position at Clinton Elementary in the fall.
Swails said he isn’t taking any credit for how far he has come. “I’m not doing this for myself,” he said. “I’m doing this because this is what the Lord has called me to do.”

Follow Kayla Vaughn on Twitter @kaybvaughn or contact her at (803) 283-1155.