Warner Brown

Bishop Warner Brown



West Africa Central Conference

Western Jurisdiction

Sierra Leone Episcopal Area


Bishop Warner H. Brown is a retired bishop of The United Methodist Church, serving from 2000 to 2016.  He is currently serving as an interim bishop of the Sierra Leone Episcopal Area in the West Africa Central Conference.  

From 2014 to 2016, Bishop Brown was the President of the Council of Bishops.

Bishop Brown was born and raised as an only child in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Ida and Warner Brown. At the age of thirteen, while reading the New Testament, he felt a call to serve. He began preaching as a youth and was encouraged to continue doing so. As a young adult, he attended the University of Maryland, (B.A. in Sociology, 1969.) He also graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC with a Master of Divinity degree.

In 1973 Warner was ordained deacon in the Baltimore Annual Conference by Bishop James K. Mathews. Yet his movement west had already begun with a pastoral appointment in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference as both the pastor of a church and Director of Bethany House Ministries in Pittsburgh, a social service ministry for two housing projects. While serving in western Pennsylvania, he was ordained elder in 1975 by Bishop Roy C. Nichols. In 1979, he answered a national search for an associate conference staff position in the California-Nevada Conference and transferred there. Once in California, it was only six months later that he was asked to serve as Conference Council Director.

From this role of program and administrative oversight for the Conference, Warner was appointed just four years later to the Superintendency of the Golden Gate District, the richly diverse area including San Francisco and several rural and suburban counties along the Pacific Coast. Four years after that, he was given the charge of the Taylor Memorial UMC in Oakland, CA. While serving this significant congregation, the community was then assaulted by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and two years later the holocaust of fires in the Oakland hills. As chairperson of the Oakland Inter-religious Network for responding to this disaster, Warner led the community's ecumenical disaster response.

Throughout these years, Warner has been active in the social justice ministries and programs of those communities and church connections where he has been appointed. To list but a sampling: Volunteer Police Chaplain, Trustee of the Glide Foundation, vice-chair of the Community Advisory Commission for Alameda County Medical Center, member of the Governing Board of United Way for Kern County, a member of the. Board of Directors for the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter, recipient of the 1996 Outstanding Leadership and Service Award for Emergency Response Ministries, given by UMCOR, and recipient of a 1998 Special Congressional Recognition from Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Warner's leadership in the church has included service as a delegate to General Conference twice, member of the General Commission on Religion and Race, a faculty member for New DS/CCD training, Harry Hoosier Member of and twice the host for the National Black Methodists for Church Renewal, chair of the Board of Missions in California-Nevada Annual Conference as well as numerous other conference boards and agencies, adjunct consultant to the Alban Institute, and a Wesley Seminary Distinguished Alumni.

Following a successful eleven-year pastorate in Oakland, Warner was given a new challenge as Senior Pastor of the predominantly white yet multi-ethnic First UMC of Bakersfield, CA. Only two years into this pastorate, he was nominated and endorsed by his conference for the episcopacy: at the Western Jurisdiction Conference Sessions in Casper, Wyoming, and in July of 2000 he was elected to the episcopacy on the 19th ballot and assigned to the Denver Area. He retired in July 2016.

Bishop Brown is married to Minnie Jones Brown; their family includes Catina Marie Harvin, Warner III, and Calvin Brown.