The members of the North Georgia Conference Delegation have endorsed the Rev. Dr. Byron E. Thomas as their episcopal nominee.
Rev. Dr. Thomas is currently senior pastor of Ben Hill UMC in Atlanta. He is chair of the North Georgia Conference Delegation to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Rev. Dr. Thomas has served as Senior Pastor of Ben Hill UMC since June 2013 where his focus has been on strengthening the link between spiritual formation and missions. Placing a premium on discipleship as opposed to membership, he has emphasized the importance of spiritual formation as foundational for faithfully executing the ministry God has entrusted to the Church. He also strongly believes that United Methodist churches operate best when the mission of the church is being carried out by laity who are Christ-centered and demonstrate a love for God, for themselves, and for the people of God.
"Dr. Byron Thomas is a servant leader who works to implement the finest principles of Discipleship and Social Justice. He leads with prioritizations of vision, scholarship, and fine preaching. His character reflects both a boldness and gentleness as he works to enhance systems and situations," said Rev. Dr. Bernice Kirkland, delegation member and Atlanta-College Park District Superintendent. "As any gifted leader, Byron is a non-anxious presence who responds rather than reacts. It is a joy to work and serve with him."
Rev. Dr. Thomas has held appointments at Central UMC in Atlanta, as Associate Director in the North Georgia Conference Office of Connectional Ministries, and as Pastor at Fort Street United Methodist Church in Atlanta.
He has served in numerous leadership roles in the North Georgia Conference and the Southeastern Jurisdiction including Chairperson of the Committee on Related Agencies, Chairperson of the Committee on Ethnic Local Church Concerns, Chairperson of the Advocacy Committee, and Member of the Board of Directors of the Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, North Carolina. He has served on the Atlanta-College Park District Board of Ordained Ministry and as the Chair of the District Committee on Superintendency. He has twice served as Chaplain and Educational Liaison at the United Methodist Children’s Home and has chaired the Board of the Interfaith Children’s Movement (ICM). He is a recipient of the Malone Dodson Award given by the Foundation of Wesley Woods to a clergyperson who best exemplifies visionary and committed leadership with respect to older adults. In May 2015, Rev. Dr. Thomas was elected President of the North Georgia Black Methodists for Church Renewal. In October 2015 he was elected as the Coordinator for the Southeastern Jurisdiction Black Methodist for Church Renewal. He has served as a Clergy Delegate to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences and the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference.
"At our past Annual Conference, Rev. Dr. Byron Thomas was elected on the first ballot as the first clergy person elected, making him the chair of our Delegation for the 2020 General Conference," said Rev. Dr. Phil Schroeder, delegation member and Director of North Georgia's Center for Congregational Excellence. "It is an honor and privilege to have nominated him to represent the North Georgia Conference as our Episcopal Nominee at the 2020 Jurisdictional Conference in July at Lake Junaluska!"
A native of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Rev. Dr. Thomas is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Philosophy from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia and a Master of Divinity degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He also holds a Certificate in Executive Leadership from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. In 2016, Pastor Thomas graduated from the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) program with a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) in Preaching through McCormick Theological Seminary.
He is married to DuWanna and they are the proud parents of two wonderful sons.
In The United Methodist Church, bishops are elected and assigned by the Jurisdictions. In July of 2020, Rev. Thomas will be considered for election as bishop by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.