Category: Speakers

Sandy Blackburn

blackburnAuthor and Certified Lay Servant Sandy Blackburn is a member at Oak Forest UMC in the Yadkin Valley District.  The Lord has given Sandy one of his most gracious gifts, by enabling her to write about everyday happenings in life.  As a result of her quiet time with God, through her heart and hand flow wonderful writings and messages that will both inspire and encourage others on their faith journeys.  To date she has penned four devotional books, one self-help book on chronic pain, and co-authored another book about multiple birth-defects.

She and her husband Deric live in Welcome, NC where they raised their oldest granddaughter who was born with multiple birth defects.  As Lay Servant, author, speaker, and Bible teacher, Sandy is busy now delivering her story of God’s steadfast faithfulness and amazing grace upon her life.  She stays busy filling pulpits, speaking at Women’s Conferences, Banquets, and crossing denominational lines with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  She loves to quote John Wesley whenever asked why people came to open fields to hear him preach by saying, “I simply light myself afire with the Holy Spirit and they come to watch me burn!”

Sandy was chosen by the Board of Laity and will be giving the Laity Address on Saturday of Annual Conference.

Dr. Bryan D. Collier

BryanCollier300Bryan Daniel Collier is the Founding Pastor and also the Lead Pastor of The Orchard: A Multisite United Methodist Congregation in Tupelo, Mississippi.  With its five sites throughout northeast Mississippi, The Orchard is focused on Growing Deep in the Love of Jesus and Branching Out to others with that love.

Prior to planting The Orchard, Bryan served four pastorates in The Mississippi and Kentucky Annual Conferences of The United Methodist Church.

In 1991 he earned a BS degree, Cum Laude in Education from Mississippi State University.  He began his Masters of Divinity Program at Asbury Theological Seminary in the fall of 1991 and while serving pastorates in Kentucky earned his degree in the spring 1994.  Receiving a Beeson Fellowship Grant in 1997, his research focus was in the arena of systems theory and it’s impact as a tool of the leader.  Bryan adapted much of MIT Professor Peter Senge’s seminal work, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization for church use.  Bryan has been an ordained Elder in The Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1996 and in 2014 began his 23rd year in pastoral ministry. His interests include leadership issues, church for the unchurched and cultural dissection.

He is passionate about helping people at all stages of faith Grow Deep in the love of God and Branch Out to others with that love.  His passion extends to helping leaders and organizations facilitate this growth.  To that end he is the author of Becoming An Orchard, Xulon Press, 2006 and The Go-To Church, Abingdon Press, 2013

Bryan is a sports enthusiast, a voracious reader and enjoys hiking and the outdoors.  He has been married to Wendy for 23 years and they have a daughter Olivia and a son, Houston.

Dr. William Bobby McClain

McClain300Dr. William Bobby McClain earned his B.A. degree, summa cum laude, at Clark College, Atlanta.  His Master’s and doctoral degrees were earned at Boston University School of Theology.  He conceived of and chaired the committee which produced the hymnbook, Songs of Zion, which sold more than 2.5 million copies and changed the composition of Christian hymnals of every denomination.  He most recently co-chaired the committee for the sequel to Songs of Zion: Zion Still Sings! For Every Generation

After the publication of Songs of Zion, he wrote Come Sunday: A Liturgical Companion to Songs of Zion, and he is at work completing African American Preaching and the Bible: The Preaching of Zion, the third book in this trilogy.

In 1978, Dr. McClain established and served as the executive director the Multi-Ethnic Center for Ministry at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey.  There he wrote Travelling Light: Christian Perspectives on Pluralism.  He is also the author of Black People in the Methodist Church: Whither Thou Goest and with the late Dr. Grant Shockley and Dr. Karen Collier, Heritage and Hope: African American Presence in Methodism.

In 1991, his Clark Atlanta University alma mater awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of his achievements in religion and civil rights.  In 1999, he was named to the Mary Elizabeth McGehee Joyce Chair in Preaching and Worship at Wesley Theological Seminary, the first fully-endowed chair in the seminary’s history, where he taught preaching and worship for 34 years. He was the commencement speaker for Wesley’s Commencement in 2013, held at Washington National Cathedral on May 13, retired from the seminary on December 31, 2013, and is now Professor Emeritus.

Professor McClain met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Montgomery, Alabama, where Dr. King was pastoring and McClain was a teen-aged preacher in his hometown of Gadsden, Alabama.  After completing his seminary degree at Boston University, where King had previously received his doctorate, Reverend McClain returned to Alabama in 1962 to work with King and the civil rights movement and to serve as pastor of Haven Chapel Methodist Church in Anniston, Alabama, where he remained until returning to graduate school at Boston University in the fall of 1964.

From 1968 to 1978, Dr. McClain, an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, served as senior pastor of the historic Union United Methodist Church in Boston.  During that same period he taught at Boston College, Harvard University, Northeastern University and Emerson College.  From 2001-2003  Dr. McClain served as the Senior Pastor of Philadelphia’s Tindley Temple United Methodist Church where the great Charles Albert Tindley served as pastor and  wrote many of his famous and beloved Gospel songs.

Called on frequently to lecture and preach in major pulpits and universities throughout this country and abroad, he has preached in Africa, Asia, the West Indies, New Zealand, and Europe. Professor McClain opened the 126th season of the New York Chautauqua Institution in 2000 as Keynote Preacher and Chaplain-in-Residence with thousands in attendance to listen to his preaching each day.  In February of 2009, he lectured in Honolulu, Hawaii, as the 30th Annual Britt Lecturer.

Dr. McClain also serves on the United Methodist General Commission on Archives and History.

In July of 2015, Dr. McClain was awarded the Roger Deschner Award by the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. In September of 2015, he was honored as one of the Outstanding Alumni of Boston University School of Theology.

Dr. McClain is the father of two sons: William Bobby McClain, Jr. and David Wilson McClain.  He and his wife, the former Jo Ann Mattos, Administrative Assistant to the Executive Secretary of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, make their home in Fort Washington, Prince George’s County, Maryland.


Dr. William B. McClain
Home: 500 Round Table Drive, Fort Washington, Maryland 20744
Phone: 301-839-5009
E-mail address:

Bishop Cynthia Harvey

Bishop Harvey 300Cynthia Fierro Harvey serves as bishop of the Louisiana Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, having been assigned there in September of 2012. The Louisiana Annual Conference is composed of 486 congregations and 118,725 members and includes the entire state of Louisiana.

Under Bishop Harvey’s leadership, the 2013 Louisiana Annual Conference adopted a mission and vision focus to: lead others to an abundant life in Christ; engage in the community; learn, live and tell the gospel story; and reach out and draw-in people from all walks of life resulting in vibrant, alive and vital congregations. The vision and mission are undergirded by Core Values: integrity, accountability, unrelenting love for all people, courage and risk, and holding nothing sacred but the mission. In the fall of 2013, Bishop Harvey carried this message to each of the six districts in the conference, holding town hall style meetings to engage Louisiana United Methodists in conversation toward greater fruitfulness. She has continued to draw upon the vision and mission at every opportunity.

She has challenged faith communities to look beyond themselves and to keep an eye focused on the edge where God is at work. Bishop Harvey also has a passion for young people as they lead the church into a future filled with possibilities.

In connection with her Episcopal assignment, she serves on the Boards of Trustees for Centenary College, Dillard University and the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana. Bishop Harvey chairs the National Plan for Hispanic and Latino Ministries for The United Methodist Church. She served as the President of the South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops from 2013-14. She currently serves as the Secretary of the Council of Bishops.

After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin in 1980, Bishop Harvey spent 12 years in the corporate world as a regional director of marketing for the Rouse Company, a shopping center developer with properties throughout the United States. She focused on properties in Texas, Colorado, Arkansas and Louisiana. In 1992, she responded to a life-long call and began her ministerial work as a local pastor and continuing later to Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, earning a Master of Divinity.

Harvey went on to serve as associate pastor for The Foundry United Methodist Church in Houston from 1992-1996 and as executive pastor for Memorial Drive UMC in Houston from 1996-2008. She then moved to the position of Director of Missional Excellence for the Texas Annual Conference, serving from Febuary of 2008-May 1, 2010.

Just prior to her election as a United Methodist bishop during the 2012 South Central Jurisdictional Conference, Harvey served as Deputy General Secretary for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey was born on May 5, 1959 in Big Spring, Texas. She and her husband, Dean Alan Harvey, were married in 1981. Dean is a financial advisor and owns his own firm. Their daughter, Elizabeth Grace is an interior designer living in Dallas.

Dean and Cynthia love good food. They love to cook, but can also give you recommendations for the best food in places from Houston to Baton Rouge, and wherever their travels have taken them. Dean is an excellent chef while Cynthia is at his side as his sous chef (and taking care of clean-up duty!).