Reporting on Biographies – Religion in Shoes

Hunter B. Blakley wrote a biography of Brother (James A.) Bryan of Birmingham in 1934. Students should learn to report on a book they have read with different styles and formats. Summarizing the whole story does not always present the best report. Since Blakley filled this biography with an abundance of stories painting a picture of how God used this man, a snapshot may provide the best report.

James A. Bryan grew up in rural South Carolina and moved to North Carolina at the age of fourteen for more education. Then, God made it possible for Bryan to attend and graduate from Princeton University. In 1889 he arrived in the young city of Birmingham to pastor the Third Presbyterian Church. Indeed, he became a pastor to the city of Birmingham itself.

To see how this happened, follow a day in the life of Brother Bryan of Birmingham (Chapter 5 His Daily Round):

5:30 a.m. – a younger preacher filling in for Brother Bryan’s regular driver arrived at Bryan’s home.

6:00 a.m. – they arrived for Pastor Bryan to preach to workers at a transfer company.

6:30 a.m. – Breakfast at a Greek Restaurant provided free for Brother Bryan and anyone who accompanied him. Before leaving Brother Bryan prayed for the staff at the restaurant.

7:00 a.m.-Fire Station # 4 – Brief preaching session to the firefighters.

7:45 a.m. – WKBC – Radio Station Morning Devotions – Brother Bryan sang a few lines of “Take Time to Be Holy,” prayed and spoke from Isaiah and then closed in prayer.

8:15 a.m. — Pick up donations of fruit, bread and broth for those who would listen to a message at the church later that morning. Called his wife to recount his activities and to ask about things at home and if anyone had called requesting a wedding or funeral.

9:00 a.m. — Fire Station # 1 – Brief preaching session with the firefighters.

9:30 a.m. WBRC – Commercial Radio Station with greatest reach in Birmingham. 30 minutes of preaching time.

10:00 a.m. Spoke to a women’s group about his trip to Nazareth.

10:45 a.m. At the church – checked in with Mrs. Bryan; by phone learned of the sick; thanked a friend for food; encouraged a man – ending each conversation with prayer.

11:30 a.m. Spoke to the homeless who had gathered for a meal.

12:00 p.m. Drove home for the meal Mrs. Bryan had prepared for them.

2:00 p.m. Hospital visit; home visit; pick up weekly donation of a piece of meat from butcher.

3:30 p.m. Fire Station # 7 – spoke to the Firefighters

4:00 – 5:15 p.m. various sections of the Jail as “City Chaplain.”

5:30 p.m. Checked in at Church to inquire if anyone had requested funeral or marriage.

6:00 p.m. Supper at a restaurant – again anyone who accompanies Brother Bryan pays nothing.

6:50 p.m. Tarrant City Hall – spoke to firemen.

7:30 p.m. Church meeting

8:30 p.m. Bid goodnight to “chauffeur.”

(Reviewer deduced some of the times from the narrative.)

Other chapters mentioned that Brother Bryan arose early and spent an hour with God before beginning his day. In addition, he met with people in what they called “the confessional” – his office. Apparently, he chose a text at the beginning of the week and developed his Sunday sermon as he spoke do the different groups throughout the week.

Pastor and Mrs. Bryan had seven children, the first of which died in infancy. All six of the remaining children graduated from college. Two of his sons became preachers; one a missionary and one a minister. Another son wrote, “His faith to my mind has been remarkable. It has been a common occurrence at our house to see the Providence of God working in one way or another. Father in the family circle would make supplication to God to grant a request, if it were His holy will, and on occasions too numerous to count, his requests have by some means or other been granted.” (p. 107)

Having learned of Pastor Bryan’s “Daily Round” Birmingham understandably claimed Pastor Bryan as their own, paying his way to the Holy Lands. They had hoped for him and Mrs. Bryan to go, but her health did not allow it. He took his preacher son along with him. God greatly blessed the ministry of James A. Bryan.

Maggie Dail offers online services through Unlocking Learning Potential and Family Academy Online. She and her husband, Ronnie, make their home in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The Center is affiliated with Academy Northwest and Family Academy. They homeschooled two foster sons and have worked with homeschooling families for over 20 years. Maggie earned her M.A. in Special Education in 1989 and has taught for nearly 40 years.

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