James Bryan Smith joins Chapel Hill

Acclaimed writer and teacher James Bryan Smith joins Chapel Hill

Worship and Theology with James Bryan SmithOn September 9, we welcomed acclaimed writer and teacher Rev. Dr. James Bryan Smith to the pastoral staff at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. A best-selling author and nationally recognized teacher, Smith is executive director of the Apprentice Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation at Friends University. Previously an honorary pastor-in-residence, now a teaching pastor, Smith teaches Wednesday nights at Chapel Hill and preaches monthly beginning September 23, with subsequent sermons on the second Sunday of the month.

A Joyful Reunion

Church Shooting in Texas by Pastor Jeff Gannon IMG_8693 copy

Rev. Jeff Gannon, Chapel Hill Senior Pastor

Enjoying an affiliation with Chapel Hill that dates back to the church’s foundation, Smith has workshopped several books in classes with the congregation over the years, including his best-selling The Good and Beautiful God series. “This reunion takes us back to our beginnings in 1995, when my friend Jim Smith and his wife Meghan helped us start Chapel Hill,” says Senior Pastor Rev. Jeff Gannon. “I am excited to team up again with a man whose spiritual vision and clarity of expression have done so much to shape the ‘faith DNA’ of our congregation over the years.  I am especially grateful that Smith’s appointment is made possible by the generosity of an anonymous donor. This is just one of countless examples of God’s providential care for our church and its mission.”

Monthly Preaching

As part of his appointment, Dr. Smith begins preaching regularly at Chapel Hill beginning September 23. He returns on the second Sunday of the month thereafter, including October 14 and November 11. Services at 9:30 and 11 AM.

A New Return to a Traditional Form of Worship

In fact, Smith’s class on Worship and Theology paves the way for a shift in worship practice and culture at Chapel Hill, based on a vision shared by Pastor Gannon and Smith. Beginning December 2, the first day in the season of Advent, Chapel Hill will begin a “new” style of worship, a return to an older liturgy from the Methodist lectionary, with ancient roots in the Christian tradition. Details coming soon!

The Things Above Podcast

Smith is host and creator of The Things Above, a new podcast from The Apprentice Institute at Friends University​​. Offering “Heavenly Thinking for Earthly Engagement,” the podcast offers “mind discipleship” for listeners to set their minds on “things above” (Colossians 3:2). Each week, Smith offers a glorious thought—something good and beautiful and true, something excellent and praiseworthy—to fill our minds with heavenly truths. Things Above.

About James Bryan Smith

Associate Professor of Religion and Dallas Willard Chair for Christian Spiritual Formation at Friends University, James Bryan Smith is founder and Executive Director of the Apprentice Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation at Friends. A nationally recognized teacher and a New York Times best-seller, he is the author of the popular “The Good and Beautiful” and “Magnificent” book series. His spiritual podcast The Things Above debuted in August. The Magnificent Journey, Living Deep in the Kingdom, his latest book and the second in his Magnificent series, releases October 6 on InterVarsity Press. B.A., Friends University; M.Div., Yale University Divinity School; D.Min., Fuller Theological Seminary.