Robert Spain

Bishop Robert Spain


United States

Southeastern Jurisdiction

hs_spainr-150x225.jpg Bishop Robert Hitchcock Spain is a Retired Bishop of The United Methodist Church, having served  from  1988-1992. He passed on September 9, 2022.  

Robert Hitchcock Spain was born in Loretto, Tennessee. His parents, James Thomas Spain and Grace Hitchcock Spain, were both public educators. At the age of seventeen he joined the Navy and served in the South Pacific until the end of World War II. He began his education in Pre-med at the University of Tennessee. Upon changing his life's direction he attended the University of North Alabama, Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Scarritt College and received an Honorary Doctorate from Lambuth College. The earned degrees include B.A., M.Div. and M.A.

As a student he served a circuit of five churches in Wayne County, Tennessee, a station Church in Springhill, and was the Conference Director of Youth Work. Since Divinity School there have been four church appointments: Livingston; Lebanon; Belle Meade in Nashville; Brentwood.

For five years, he was the District Superintendent of the Nashville District. Bob Spain has been an active participant in his Annual Conference and the General Church. He was elected delegate to the General Conference five consecutive quadrennia and was the first elected the last four quadrennia. He served for eight years on the Board of Church and Society, eight years on the Board of Publications, and four years on the General Council on Ministries. He was a reserve member of the Judicial Council.

At the time of his election to the episcopacy in 1988, he was the Senior Minister of the 3,200 member Brentwood United Methodist Church. At his consecration was Bishop Roy H. Short, who had ordained him both deacon and elder.

He served the Louisville Area from 1988 to 1992, which comprises the Louisville and Kentucky Conferences and also the Red Bird Missionary Conference. He was retired in August, 1992 and began teaching clergy and laity through the Focus on Ministry seminar sponsored by The United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville. Upon the untimely death of Bishop Joseph B. Bethea in South Carolina, the SEJ College of Bishops assigned Bishop Spain to the South Carolina Conference. This assignment ended in August, 1996.

In retirement, Bishop Spain served as the chaplain at the United Methodist Publishing House.

On May 14, 1948 Syble Mink and Robert Spain were married. The union was blessed with two children Mollie (Philip) Johnston and John Philip Spain.