During a ministry that has lasted nearly three decades, the Rev. Quincy D. Brown has experienced his share of changes in the United Methodist Church in Georgia.
“The best way to describe how I’ve seen the church evolve, like everything else and other denominations, (is) we have seen our challenges, that’s for sure, but we’ve also had opportunities,” said Brown, who has been appointed pastor of Snellville United Methodist Church. “In the late 1980s and early 1990s, we saw growth in particular churches and areas and we saw a lot of building happening.
“Over these past 26 years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of younger people saying yes to being full-time ministers. That is been something I’ve seen over the years that has been rewarding and pleasing. There have been some changes and challenges along the way as well.”
A native of Gainesville, Brown will assume the pastorate on Sunday. He succeeds the Rev. Jim Cantrell, who is retiring after 45 years of service, the last 10 at Snellville UMC.
Prior to his appointment by the UMC’s North Georgia Conference, Brown served as the district superintendent of the conference’s Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District.
“In our governance structure of the Methodist church, bishops have district superintendents and they’re like regional managers for the churches,” said Brown of his previous post. “My job is was to oversee 85 churches in DeKalb, Rockdale, Henry and Newton counties. I’ve done that for the past four years, working with the pastors and the congregations, helping them strategically think about how to grow their church, how to go through a pandemic, how to reach their community.
“It has been rewarding work. I care about equipping the churches to connect people with the church and with Jesus and with larger purposes.”
A certified transitional guide and church transformation coach, Brown – who lives in Conyers – has an extensive background in the Methodist Church. He has served as a youth minister at St. Paul UMC in Gainesville, associate pastor at Gainesville First UMC, assistant pastor at LaGrange First UMC, church planter in residence at Impact Church in Atlanta, a church planter at Threshold Church in Newnan and executive pastor at Peachtree City UMC.
Brown also spent 17 years as a chaplain and vice president at LaGrange College.
When asked which assignment he most fondly recalls, Brown said, “Hindsight is always 20-20, so you don’t really think about why you’re in the picture, but I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every experience in the past 26 years of ministry that I’ve had. There have been eye-opening experiences, there have been places where I’ve been stretched, but I’ve enjoyed every bit of and I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences.”
In a telephone interview conducted in mid-June, Brown said he was still learning about Snellville UMC but added he’s looking forward to the opportunity to serve.
“I’m coming in new, but from everything I’ve seen and had a chance to see first- and second-hand, it is a large and active church, both in the church and in the community,” he said. “My plan on going in is building as many relationships as I can. And then finding common areas that we have and living into the existing vision they’ve put together of welcoming all people to a growing relationship with Jesus.”
Brown earned a bachelor’s of science degree in electric engineering technology from DeVry Institute and holds degrees from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and the Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center.
With church membership on the decline in America, Brown said that there are different ways to measure church growth.
“When we talk about growth, there’s growth numerically and there’s growth spiritually, emotionally and health-wise,” he said. “Sometimes we do and either/or approach. Sometimes we want to count nickels and noses instead of how people behave. For me, what I’m looking for are outcomes – what are we doing to affect life change in people’s lives? If we’re able to do that at a consistent level that inspires people, then the growth part will take care of itself.
“I’m more concerned about the church being who God has called the church to be and being that church in the specific context of the city of Snellville. There are things you can do to grow, but I’m more interested in the church, and I do know no church will go beyond the capacity of what it can see, dream and imagine. My hope is that we build upon the best of the past of Snellville to help us to reach new people.”
While Brown has moved from one side of Georgia through the years to the other to shepherd parishioners, he said he has hopes for a long stay in Snellville.
“That tenure is kind of open,” he said. “Every year, a pastor is reappointed to the church or could move. It could be one year, it could be five years, it could be 10 years.
“I’m in it for the long haul. I want to be there for as long as I can be there to work together to fulfill the vision of the church and to help the community at the same time. I’ll stay there as long as they’ll have me; I’ll stay there as long as the system will allow me to stay there.”
For more information about Snellville UMC, visit www.snellvilleumc.org.