Bryan Priest

Church Name: Salem in Ladue
Gateway Central

Share any relevant background information including leadership experience both within the church and in other areas of your life.

I have been a Methodist my whole life. I was raised by two very strong women – my mother & grandmother. Since I was young they taught me that anyone who has the calling, love for Jesus, and God’s grace can lead a congregation. 

To address the elephant in the room: I believe God does not make mistakes. He makes ALL people in his own image. Everyone has the right to marry whom they love. And everyone can & should be allowed to lead a congregation. 

In my personal life I am a senior leader at a Fortune 6 company. I am a small business owner and I am a volunteer. I am a husband to an amazing & tolerant woman and have the two most beautiful children in the world.

As for leadership in the church, my wife and I have been active at Salem in Ladue for several years. We have been active with everything from VBS, mission trips, organizations such as Epworth, CASA, St Louis Public Schools, etc. etc. etc. The fact is we all have impressive resumes with our churches and our communities.

Describe your personal practices of intentional faith development that strengthen your spiritual engagement with God and your capacity for fruitful leadership in the church.

Every morning I verbally pray asking for strength, courage and guidance to be his disciple. My prayer is specific for what I have planned that day and it always ends in thanks and praise for the amazing word we live in and the many gifts he has given me.

My relationship with Jesus is strong. But I feel it is even stronger when I have a purpose. And my purpose is to share my gifts in all ways possible.

To learn more about me and my spiritual journey, read my favorite prayer: The Prayer of Saint Francis.

Why do you seek election as a lay delegate representing the Missouri Conference?

This General Conference is probably the most important one of my lifetime. I am afraid of what is happening to our church. We do not know what our future looks like. Are we together? Do we split up? Everyone has an opinion, but the truth is no one knows our future.

I believe in my heart that Jesus has yet to show us our path, but he will soon. There is a way forward. We need lay delegates who will work with every side to find the best way forward. We need lay delegates who will be quiet long enough and suppress their own beliefs long enough to allow the Holy Spirit to show us our way forward.

How will your involvement in General Conference 2020 support the church to fulfill the mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”?

In order to make disciples of Jesus Christ we need to be inclusive. We need to reach out to those on the sidelines looking in. We need to engage and welcome everyone from our communities. 

You and I are already disciples of Jesus Christ. The conference is not for you and it is not for me. At the center of all we do should be for those who are on the outside looking in. 

The purpose of the church & teachings of John Wesley is not to keep us in our comfort zone. If we cannot transform ourselves, we will not transform our church and we will not be able to continue to transform the world. I will work hard for everyone who is on the sidelines – or feels like they have been put on the sidelines – to let them know they are welcome in the UMC.

Since the primary focus for Jurisdictional Conference is to elect new bishops, what qualifications do you think the church needs in its future episcopal leaders?

There are the obvious qualifications that I think we should all look for in new bishops. But in today’s world I would expect those normal qualifications as the bare minimum. Today we need bishops who can tackle social justice issues, LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and the ability to reach the people leaving our church.

We need bishops who have displayed courage in their previous roles. They need to show that they directly & actively tackle the issues in front of us today. They need to be leaders who embrace the grey areas of life. They need to be able to lead a conference out of the wilderness.