Dr. Robert Lawson Bryan, of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, has been elected a bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the The United Methodist Church.
He is the fourth bishop elected at the 2016 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Bryan, who serves as senior pastor at Montgomery First United Methodist Church in Montgomery, AL, was elected on a ballot taken at 5:00pm on July 13, 2016. He will fill one of the vacancies created in the denomination’s jurisdictional College of Bishops by the retirement of five bishops.
Bryan will become one of 13 active bishops serving the Episcopal areas of the 15 annual conferences that make up the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
Upon his election, Bryan was honored by members of the Alabama-West Florida Conference delegation and then escorted to the stage by Bishop Paul Leeland and Bishop Larry Goodpaster. His wife, Sherrill, son Philip and daughter-in-law Brittany were in attendance and joined him on stage.
In his remarks to the conference he thanked his family, the Alabama-West Florida Conference and again stressed a word he frequently uses in making an impact in the UMC, “Immediately.” Following the election he stated, "It is an honor to be elected by colleagues in our jurisdiction and to see God at work. For the past year, I have referenced Ephesians 2:5, 'Alive Together in Christ' and ask for your prayers as I seek God's will as a leader in our SEJ Conference."
A consecration service for newly elected bishops will be held at 10:00am on Friday, July 15, 2016, in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska. Episcopal assignments will be announced on Thursday, July 14. New assignments will be effective September 1.
Endorsed by the Alabama-West Florida Conference, Bryan was elected on the tenth ballot, receiving 256 of the votes cast. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Tulane University and a Doctorate in Ministry from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. His service to the church and community includes:
1975—Associate Pastor, Trinity UMC, Opelika, AL
1976—Pastor, Hiland Park UMC, Panama City, FL
1980—Pastor, Dexter Avenue UMC, Montgomery, AL
1986—Pastor, First UMC, Brewton, AL
1990—Pastor, Ashland Place UMC, Mobile, AL
1997—Senior Pastor, First UMC, Dothan, AL
2007—Senior Pastor, First UMC, Montgomery, AL
Alabama-West Florida Conference Leadership
Chair of AWF Conference Council on Ministries, 1996-98
Academy for Congregational Excellence, board chair: 2011-present
Dothan District Committee on Ministry, Chair, 2000-2006
AWF Conference Board of Ministry, 1980-88; 2000-2012
Huntingdon College Board of Trustees, 2001-present
Chair of Board of Ordained Ministry, AWF Conference, 2007-2009
Participant and Leader in Three-year Covenant Community for Spiritual Growth
Developed partnership between First UMC Montgomery and Huntingdon College to provide intern program
Organized and hosted annual Pan-Methodist Pentecost Service
Southeastern Jurisdiction Leadership
Southeastern Jurisdiction Larger Church Consultation, Chair, 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
Alzheimer’s Association “Walk to Remember”, Chair, 2000-2001
Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors, 2002-2005
Member of Downtown Rotary Club of Montgomery, 2007-present
Chair, 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
Chair of the Visioning Team for Adult Respite Ministry of First UMC Montgomery
A United Methodist bishop in the United States is elected for life. Bishops are charged by the church’s Book of Discipline to “lead and oversee the spiritual and temporal affairs” of the church and to “guard, transmit, teach and proclaim, corporately and individually, the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and, as they are led and endowed by the Spirit, to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically.”