Annual Conference Speakers

Bishop R. Lawson Bryan

Bishop Robert 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 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.

Bishop Leonard Fairley

Leonard Fairley was assigned to The Louisville Area effective September 1, 2016. He was nominated by the North Carolina Conference and was elected July 13, 2016 on the seventh ballot during the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. 

Bishop Fairley had served the North Carolina Conference since 1984 and his last appointment in North Carolina was serving as the District Superintendent of the Capital District. The Capital District is the largest district in the North Carolina Annual Conference.

Bishop Fairley graduated from Pfeiffer College and Duke University’s School of Divinity. He served at St. Peters in Hamlet, NC and Soapstone in Raleigh before becoming the Rockingham District Superintendent. After serving as a District Superintendent for seven years he returned to the local church in 2012 as Lead Pastor at Saint Francis in Cary, NC. 

Bishop Fairley has served on numerous boards and agencies in the North Carolina conference including: 

Conference Vitalization Consultant
Chair of Congregational Development
Task Force on Lay Academy
Vice Chair of Conference Finance & Administration
Vice-Chair of Conference Board of Church and Society
NC Conference Transition Team
Conference Board of Ordained Ministry
NC Conference Episcopacy Committee
General and Jurisdictional Conference Delegate

He has also participated in Mission Work Teams in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Montserrat, Zimbabwe, Haiti and the Appalachia Service Project.

Bishop Fairley has published a book of poetry, “Who Shall Hear My Voice.” He also was a contributing writer to “The Day the Earth Moved Haiti: From Havoc to Healing.”

He was married to his lifelong soul mate, Priscilla Ann Russell, before she died in 2013. He has two adult children, son Joshua Fairley and daughter, Elizabeth Galbreath. He is also the proud grandfather of three grandchildren.

This is Bishop Fairley’s first episcopal appointment.

The Reverend Donald Jenkins

The Reverend Donald Jenkins is a native of Kansas City, Kansas.  He is a graduate of the Kansas City, Kansas public schools, American Baptist College (1978), Nashville, Tennessee, and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary(1981), Evanston, Illinois.

Pastor Jenkins has served as student assistant pastor of First United Methodist Church (1980-1981),Harvey, Illinois; pastor of Scott’s Chapel United Methodist Church (1981-1984), Shelbyville, Tennessee; Seay Hubbard United Methodist (1984-1990), Nashville, Tennessee; Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church (1990-1993); and St. Paul United Methodist Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Pastor Jenkins is married to Denise A. Jenkins, a native of Nashville, Tennessee and graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

They are the parents of one adult daughter, Brittany. Pastor Jenkins is also the father of three adult children, Donald, Daniel, and Yvonne.

Linda Ollis Taylor

Linda is a member of Pine Grove United Methodist Church of the Toe Valley Charge in Avery County.  Linda married her high school sweetheart and has two sons, one grandson and one granddaughter.  She worked 30 years for North Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation and after retirement from there she has continued working as a real estate broker.

Linda has taught the Adult Sunday School Class at Pine Grove for the past 15 years and has been a lay speaker/servant for 10 years.  She plays the organ and sings in the church choir, has served on many different church committees such as Worship, Parsonage, and is currently Trustee Chair.  Linda recently joined a team at one of the local nursing homes to teach a Sunday School Class for residents.

She is active in United Methodist Women both at her local church and at the District Level; serving as Secretary and Communications Coordinator (Newsletter) for the old Marion District.

In her spare time she loves to travel.