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John R. Bryant, recently retired Senior Bishop and Presiding Prelate of the Fourth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), has donated a large collection of books from his personal library to Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio.

Lynn Ayers, the Seminary’s Cataloger, said the Bishop donated 668 books and other items, which includes his favorite Bibles with handwritten notes and letters inserted between the pages. There are also sermons, hymnals, dissertations, and books and materials given to him with personal inscriptions from renowned authors, family and friends. The collection is especially rich in topics related to AMEC history, travel and social activism. “These things are close to the Bishops heart,” Ayers said.

Most of the books have been sorted and are currently on display at the Bishop Reverdy C. Ransom Library on Payne’s campus. Soon, the entire collection will be cataloged and the records will be available through Payne’s online library for all to enjoy. Ayers said, the collection has historical significance because it tells us about Bishop Bryant. “Down the road people will want to know about him. ‘Who was this man?’ ‘What did he read?’ ‘What was his personality like?’” she said. She reached for his Poverty and Social Justice Bible. “This book speaks volumes about him!” she exclaimed.

The collection also demonstrates that he is not a one-sided Bishop. “There is a prayer Bible, a spiritual formation Bible, a message Bible, an analytical study Bible, and so much more,” she added. This is a new chapter in a rich friendship that has been shared for many years between Bishop Bryant and the Seminary. He has served on Payne’s board of trustees, and currently works as a mentor in our DMin program. “We are enormously pleased to receive this gift,” said Dr. Michael J. Brown, President at Payne.
According to Ayers, Bishop Jabez P. Campbell was the first Bishop to donate a collection to Payne’s library. “That was in 1890 . . . . 126 years-ago,” she said.

For information about the Bishop Bryant book collection at Payne, call the Library at (937) 376-2946, ext. 203. General operating hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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