The Association of Independent Methodists

Vital Christianity | Methodist Heritage | Local Autonomy

gary briden

I have been married to my wife Debi since May 30, 1974. Together we have 3 children and 2 grandchildren - Becky age 34, missionary to Scotland; Ken, age 33, married, 2 children, U.S. Coast Guard; Paul, age 27, married, works overseas for Dynamic Aviation.

I received my BA degree with a Bible major and History minor from Southern Methodist College in 1970. I received a MA in Christian Education from Bob Jones University in 1972.  

My ministry experience has been as follows:

  • 2000-2012, Southern Methodist College, broken down as follows:
  • 2005-2012, President, Southern Methodist College
  • 2004-2005, Dean of Students, Southern Methodist College
  • 2003-2004, Full time Faculty, Southern Methodist College
  • 2000-2003, Adjunct faculty, Southern Methodist College)
  • 2002-2003, Director of Recruitment and Short-Term Ministries, Southern Methodist Foreign Missions
  • 2000-2002, Pastor, Bowman Southern Methodist Church, Bowman, S.C.

Over the last 10 years I have served as interim pastor for at least 3 Southern Methodist churches or charges, helping all 3 to find pastors.

In my work as College President I have visited all but 2 or 3 of our S.M. Churches, WMS district and annual meetings, district and annual Men’s meetings along with some non- S.M. churches, associations or fellowships recruiting students, raising funds, and securing goodwill for SMC. Along with some staff members, I have visited all of our conference youth camps each summer, conference youth and family retreats connecting with and recruiting students. Two years ago, we began a certificate level institute program (The Wesley Institute) that is taught by volunteer teachers and local church pastors in about 16 locations from Maryland to Louisiana.

We also began a one year Masters in Biblical studies program in 2010. We have an overall enrollment of 45 on campus for the 2011-2012 year with 200+ enrolled in The Wesley Institute.

I have led or been a part of 18 short-term ministry trips since 1989 to Mexico, Jamaica, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Belize, Italy, Republic of the Philippines, Haiti, Venezuela, and The Dominican Republic.)

  • 1990-present, Speaker on The Methodist Bible Hour (USA)
  • 1990-2000, Pastor of First Methodist Temple, Danville, Va. (I was able to lead them to join AIM in 1992)
  • 1985-1990, Pastor of Hinds Independent Methodist Church, Raymond, Ms.(an AIM church)
  • 1981-1985, Headmaster, Independent Methodist School (Average enrollment- 800, peak enrollment, 900)
  • 1977-1981, Principal, John Wesley Academy (Average enrollment 75, peak enrollment, 90), Hartsville, S.C. and Associate Pastor of the sponsoring church, John Wesley Independent Methodist Church.
  • 1974-1877, Faculty and Dean of Men, Southern Methodist College.
  • 1966-1974, Itinerant and supply preacher in the Southern Methodist Church while attending Southern Methodist College, the College of Charleston, and graduate school. (I began preaching at age 18 in 1966)

You would expect to read the above on a resume, however what you don’t often read on one is a description of someone’s love for and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I was reared in the Methodist Church until I turned 18, at which time I joined The Southern Methodist Church (I was an Independent Methodist for about 20 years). I do not remember hearing about the need to be born again in churches I attended.

At age 14, I attended a VBS with a close friend of mine (who is now my brother-in-law) and heard the gospel for the first time. I came under conviction but did not trust Christ as Savior until the following March.

At that time a church near us was having a revival meeting and placed a flyer on our door inviting us. My grandfather (age 65) took me and both of us trusted Jesus Christ as Savior that night. I received a call to the ministry almost at the same time as my conversion and began reading the New Testament and biographies of leaders such as John Wesley and Martin Luther. Every pastor I had from that point on encouraged me in my call to preach.

When I joined the SMC, my pastor began mentoring me and gave me opportunities to preach and a Sunday School Class (he was even brave enough to trust me on a few occasions with his 30 minute live weekly radio program). Because of Rev. Flood, I had my first opportunity to preach at age 18 (and haven’t quit since).

Because of my studies at SMC and my reading of Wesley, Ralston, and others, I had a good understanding of Wesleyan – Arminian theology and found it to be in line with Scripture. I knew what Wesley taught on Sanctification and heart holiness, thought I had embraced in my heart but it was not until hearing Doug Pierce preach on it at an AIM meeting that the Holy Spirit confirmed the experience in my heart.

The experience has been vibrant ever since and God has blessed my ministry in a way that I never imagined. It’s a joy to preach God’s Word, point a person to Christ, and help someone experience God’s perfect love in their heart through entire sanctification. When I preach, I usually sense God’s power and presence – and to Him goes all the glory.

 

-Brother Gary

I Corinthians 15: 57-58; I Thessalonians 5:23-24