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Bishop R. Lawson Bryan serves as episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Elected bishop July 14, 2016, at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference’s quadrennial meeting at Lake Junaluska, N.C., he began serving as South Georgia’s resident bishop on Sept. 1, 2016.
He previously served as senior pastor of Montgomery First United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala., in the Alabama West-Florida Conference.
This is a “homecoming,” in a sense, for Bishop Bryan. Born just across the Georgia-Florida border in Quincy, Fla., Bishop Bryan spent his early years in Bainbridge, Ga. before moving to Dothan, Ala. at 12 years old.
Bishop Bryan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Tulane University and a doctorate in ministry from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He is married to Sherrill, and their son Philip and daughter-in-law Brittany, along with their two grandchildren, John Phillip and Caroline Cooper “Cece,” reside in Alabama.
Bishop Bryan is passionate about people owning their identities as being “alive together in Christ.” This theme of “Alive Together in Christ” is taken from Ephesians 2:5. Earlier in that letter Paul declared that God’s hidden purpose is to unite all things in heaven and on earth in Jesus Christ (1:9-10).
“We cannot ask others to do that which God has uniquely equipped us to do,” Bishop Bryan says, reminding Christians of one way to live into that passion. “It is in our DNA as United Methodists to bring people together so they can experience what it means to be alive together in Christ.”
An ordained elder in The United Methodist Church for more than 42 years, Bishop Bryan began his pastoral ministry as an associate pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Opelika, Ala. He served as pastor for Hiland Park United Methodist Church in Panama City, Fla.; for Dexter Avenue United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala.; for First United Methodist Church in Brewton, Ala., and for Ashland Place United Methodist Church in Mobile, Ala. He was senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Dothan, Ala.; and First United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala.
Bishop Bryan has served actively in the Church and in his community, including leading the Alabama-West Florida Conference Board of Ministry, serving on the Board of Trustees for Huntingdon College, serving as a General Conference delegate, and organizing and hosting an annual Pan-Methodist Pentecost Service in Montgomery. He also serves on the General Commission on Religion and Race.
1975 – Associate Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church, Opelika, Alabama
1976 – Pastor, Hiland Park United Methodist Church, Panama City, Florida
1980 – Pastor, Dexter Avenue United Methodist Church, Montgomery, Alabama
1986 – Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Brewton, Alabama
1990 – Pastor, Ashland Place United Methodist Church, Mobile, Alabama
1997 – Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Dothan, Alabama
2007 – Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Montgomery, Alabama
Alabama-West Florida Conference Leadership
Chaired Alabama-West Florida Conference Council on Ministries, 1996-98
Served as board chair, Academy for Congregational Excellence, 2011-present
Dothan District Committee on Ministry, Chair, 2000-2006
Alabama-West Florida Conference Board of Ministry, 1980-88; 2000-2012
Huntingdon College Board of Trustees, 2001-present
Chaired Board of Ordained Ministry, Alabama West-Florida Conference, 2007-2009
Participant and Leader in Three-year Covenant Community for Spiritual Growth
Developed partnership between First United Methodist Church Montgomery and Huntingdon College to provide intern program
Organized and hosted annual Pan-Methodist Pentecost Service
Southeastern Jurisdiction Leadership
Chaired Southeastern Jurisdiction Larger Church Consultation, 2001-2002
General Church Leadership
General Conference delegate in 2012 and 2016
Chaired Financial Administration Sub-committee at General Conference 2016
Local Church and Community Leadership
Leadership Mobile, Class of 1992
Chaired the Alzheimer’s Association “Walk to Remember,” 2000-2001
Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors, 2002-2005
Member of Downtown Rotary Club of Montgomery, 2007-present
Chaired Believe It! Montgomery, community partnership for public schools
Author of Pursuing Science, Finding Faith
Member of the Committee of 100 – Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Member of Leadership Alabama
Teaching Parish Supervisor – Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Chaired the Visioning Team for Adult Respite Ministry of First UMC Montgomery