Jamal-Harrison Bryant was born for this season, living on purpose and dying to empower a generation. A third generation preacher with a 21st century approach, he is redefining ministry, defying odds and revitalizing the movement.
Bryant’s energy and interests are evident with the success of his ministry and the Empowerment Temple Church (ET). The church began on Easter of 2000, when 43 people attended Bible study in his home. Within a few short years, it skyrocketed to a membership of 12,000, making it the fastest growing congregation in the history of the AME church. The primary demographics for this growth are the hard-to-reach 18-45 year-olds. They have registered more voters than any church in the state of Maryland. He has also launched the Empowerment Academy (grades k-6) one of the most sought after elementary schools in the city with a curriculum based on the arts.
Prior to pastoring, Bryant served as the national youth and college director of the NAACP for 6 years. He brought a fresh wind of enthusiasm while leading almost 70,000 young people worldwide on non-violent campaigns and social activism.
Bryant is a leader who has been able to relate to people from all walks of life. He dropped out of high school, became a single parent, secured a GED and was able to earn a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a master’s of divinity degree at Duke University. He then studied at Oxford University in Great Britain and earned a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Foundation.
Although Bryant is a local pastor, he maintains a global perspective. At age 17, he went with his family to serve as missionaries in Liberia, West Africa. Giving back to his adopted second home, Bryant established the JHB Hope Academy elementary school to expose young students to the use of technology. He also built a 1000-seat sanctuary in that country. In his last year of college, he studied abroad in Johannesburg, South Africa where he participated in voter mobilization for the first free election in which Nelson Mandela was elected president. Bryant’s commitment to the gospel creates a demand for his ministry-style in many countries, universities, conferences and churches each year.
Bryant has written four books with over 100,000 copies sold. Most notably, World War Me won the African American Publishers Award. He has such a commanding presence on the Internet that over 8,000 watch his services online from around the world as well as over 150,000 follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
After leading the Occupy the Dream movement with Russell Simmons and Ben Chavez in January 2012 to raise awareness about economic inequity in the black community, a group of 30 black mainline denominations and reformations unanimously elected Bryant as President of the Empowerment Movement, an interdenominational alliance to advocate civil rights and the agenda of the black church.
Out of all of Bryant’s accomplishments his greatest passion is being a devoted father to his daughters.