Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr.
Warner H. Brown, Jr. was born and raised an only child in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Ida and Warner Brown. At the age of 13, while reading the New Testament, he felt a call to serve. At first he did not see himself serving as a pastor in a church, but he began preaching as a youth, and was encouraged to continue doing so. After graduating from the University of Maryland in 1969 with a B.A. in Sociology, he attended Wesley Seminary at the urging of his pastor, and graduated in 1974. It was at Wesley, while Brown was serving as a student intern, that the ordained ministry finally called with clarity.
In 1973 Brown was ordained a Deacon in the Baltimore Annual Conference. He transferred to the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference and was appointed as both pastor of a church and Director of Bethany House Ministries in Pittsburgh, a social service ministry for two housing projects. He next was appointed Senior Pastor at Warren United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh. While serving in Pennsylvania, he was ordained an Elder in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. Then, in 1979, he answered a national search for an associate conference staff position in the California-Nevada Annual Conference, and transferred there. Once in California, it was only six months later that internal staff changes opened the door to his stepping up to serve as Conference Council Director.
From this role of having program and administrative oversight for the conference, Brown was appointed just four years later to the superintendency of the Golden Gate District, the richly diverse area around San Francisco. Then – again, after only four years – he was given the charge of Taylor Memorial U.M.C. in Oakland, California. As the congregation was experiencing a significant turn-around, the Loma Prieta Earthquake and subsequent fires assaulted the Oakland community. Brown led the community’s ecumenical disaster response, serving as chairperson of the Oakland Inter-religious Network.
Following an 11-year pastorate in Oakland, Brown was given a new challenge as Senior Pastor of the First U.M.C. of Bakersfield, California. Only two years into this pastorate, he was nominated and endorsed by the Annual Conference Session for the episcopacy. At the July, 2000 Western Jurisdiction Conference Sessions in Casper, Wyoming, he was elected a bishop of The United Methodist Church and assigned to the Denver Episcopal Area (covering Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and parts of Idaho).
In July, 2008, at the Western Jurisdiction Conference Sessions in Portland, Oregon, Bishop Brown was reassigned to the California-Nevada Annual Conference (covering northern California and Nevada).
Throughout these years, Bishop Brown has been active in the social justice ministries and programs of those communities and church connections where he has been appointed, including serving as Volunteer Police Chaplain, trustee of the Glide Foundation, vice-chair of the Community Advisory Commission for Alameda County Medical Center, member of the Governing Board of United Way for Kern County, and chair of the Board of Directors for the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Leadership and Service Award for Emergency Response Ministries, given by United Methodist Committee on Relief (1996), and of a Congressional Commendation from Congresswoman Barbara Lee (1998).
Bishop Brown’s leadership in the Church has been extensive: twice serving as a delegate to General Conference; and serving as a member of the General Commission on Religion and Race; a director for the General Board of Discipleship, in its Division on Ministries With Young People, Upper Room Ministries Division, and Discipleship Ministries Division; a faculty member for New DS/CCD training; a Harry Hoosier Member of, and twice the host for, Black Methodists for Church Renewal; chair of the Board of Missions in California-Nevada, as well as numerous other conference boards and agencies; adjunct consultant to the Alban Institute; and as a Wesley Seminary Distinguished Alumnus.
In 2007, Bishop Brown was advisor for the United Methodist Church’s first Global Young People’s Convocation, held in Johannesburg, South Africa. He currently serves as a director for the General Board of Global Ministries.
Bishop Brown is married to Minnie Jones Brown. Their family includes Catina Marie Harvin, Warner Brown III, and Calvin Brown.