I knew this year would be a tough one, even before COVID-19 arrived and forced us out of our offices and into social isolation. In our January staff meeting, The Upper Room’s beloved publisher and my colleague for thirty-something years, Stephen Bryant, announced his retirement plans. Without knowing what was ahead, Steve agreed to stay through 2020 to help us prepare well for a leadership transition. In hindsight, I see God’s providential care for a year when we needed Steve’s leadership more than ever.
What I appreciate most about Steve is that he leads with great purpose and passion, in good times and bad. He is grounded and stable, yet wonderfully flexible and adaptive. He loves adventure, innovation, and creative conversation. He seeks God’s invitation in every situation and expects staff to do the same. He has great affection and respect for you, our donors, and sees you as vital partners in ministry. Steve has so much vision for our work that it’s nearly impossible to capture on paper. He inspires and motivates us and works to secure a future where Upper Room resources will always be relevant and accessible.
If you know Steve, then you know he is our mission incarnated. Steve is a soul-tender, inviting and encouraging us all to create daily life with God, to sense our own belovedness. It was Steve who showed me how to open and be attentive to God’s presence while reading The Upper Room devotional guide. He has a real gift for teaching prayer practices and designing spiritual experiences that draw people closer to God and neighbor, demonstrating the way of Christ.
Over the last 34 years, Steve’s fingerprints and wise influence have shaped and re-shaped all of our legacy programs like The Walk to Emmaus, The Academy for Spiritual Formation, and the Companions in Christ study series. He kickstarted SOULfeast, Africa Upper Room, and several indigenous publishing teams throughout Africa and in the Philippines. He has a pastor’s heart and a mind for sound business practices, a secret recipe that gives long life to these programs that have meant so much to so many.
I will always be grateful for Stephen’s leadership. He’s a shining light, an engaging colleague, and a dear friend to us all. Most importantly, he has laid a strong foundation for The Upper Room with lasting results that we all can enjoy. Thanks be to God.
Job well done, Steve Bryant. We will miss you.
Please join me in saying thank you and best wishes to Stephen and his wife, Marcie. You can send a note to his attention to The Upper Room, 1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN 37212.
May the peace of Christ be with you during this holy season. Please stay safe and well.
Give to the New Fund in His Honor.
In appreciation for Stephen’s effective leadership and in honor of his upcoming retirement, The Upper Room staff and board of directors have established a new fund called the Stephen Bryant Prayer and Spiritual Formation Fund. This fund will provide financial support in creating virtual (and in-person) events designed for pastors and spiritual leaders to support their life with God as leaders in faith communities and will create eventually a library of digital content that can support the lifelong journey of spiritual formation. This new fund will serve as an ongoing reminder of Steve’s deep passion for teaching spiritual practices and exploring their role in the restoration and renewal of disciples and congregations. Click here to give in honor of Steve.
Join Us for a Global Celebration to Honor Steve on January 21. Register for the free event here.
Rev. Kimberly Orr has been named as our new publisher, effective January 1. Please join us in welcoming her to The Upper Room family. If you missed the press release about Kimberly, please read it here.
Sherry Elliott is the Executive Director of Administration, Interpretation, and Development.
This article also appears in the Winter 2020 Fellowship Focus newsletter for friends and donors of The Upper Room. Click the image below to view the complete newsletter:
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.