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Alex Bryan to Leave Kettering Presidency and Return to Walla Walla


UPDATED 9pm EST — Just over six months after leaving as senior pastor of Walla Walla University Church and relocating to Kettering College as the school’s sixth president, Alex Bryan has announced that he is leaving – and going back to his old job. 

Bryan told his Kettering colleagues of his decision at a personnel meeting on Thursday afternoon. He will stay through the end of the school year.

Today the Walla Walla University Church’s search committee reported to the congregation that Bryan was returning. By coincidence, Bryan was there in person. Some weeks ago he had been asked to perform a baptism today – and then asked to speak.

At the Walla Walla University Church, “the general mood is one of great joy and optimism,” according to executive pastor Henning Guldhammer.

Late this afternoon, Walla Walla University posted a statement on its website headed: University Church Welcomes Back Former Senior Pastor. Paul Hoover, president of the Upper Columbia Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, was quoted as saying: “I am delighted that Dr. Alex Bryan has accepted the invitation to return to serve as the senior pastor of our Walla Walla University Church. God has obviously been doing something special with and in Dr. Bryan clarifying his calling to pastoral ministry.”

Bryan was asked to be Kettering’s president after the retirement of Charles Scriven, who had served for 12 years. (Full disclosure: Scriven is board chair of the Association of Adventist Forums, Spectrum‘s publisher.)

Walla Walla University Church had not yet named a replacement for Bryan. Walla Walla Church’s search committee had been hard at work, and had extended an invitation to Sam Leonor at La Sierra, but had been turned down. Watchers had been expecting an announcement, but Bryan’s return comes as a big surprise to many

Bryan had spent four years at Walla Walla University Church, with his last Sabbath in Washington just 189 days ago. Until 2009 he was at Collegedale Adventist Church in Tennessee.

In the summer of 2012, while senior pastor at Walla University Church, Bryan had been recommended by the search committee to replace the outgoing John McVay as president of Walla Walla University, but was then rejected by the board after an anonymous online opposition campaign. (See our stories here and here.) 

It turns out that unfortunate incident was only the prequel to this latest career zigzag for Alex Bryan.

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