By Jordan Cochran
Rev. Ronny Brannen learned the value of being an involved member of his community as a young student at Reinhardt while earning his Associate of Arts degree before going on to complete his undergraduate and graduate degrees. However, Brannen’s acceptance into Reinhardt almost didn’t happen.
During Brannen’s time as an Eagle several mentors helped him along the way. Then-dean Dr. Floyd Falany, now President Emeritus, acted as a sponsor and source of encouragement to Brannen. It was Dr. Alan Jernigan who became one of the most influential people to his college career.
“There were so many important people there that impacted my life. Dr. Alan Jernigan, President of Reinhardt College, allowed me to come to the school. I entered on probation and he took a chance on me.”
Once admitted, Brannen fully involved himself in organizations on- and off- campus. Brannen served as president and secretary-treasurer of Sigma Theta Pi fraternity and as the Phi Theta Kappa student government representative. He was a Bridge Advisor and a member of Wesley Fellowship, and of Who’s Who in American Jr. Colleges.
“When I think back to my days of going to school, Reinhardt College was by far my favorite. While there, I got involved in so many things. It was truly a wonderful time in my life.”
After graduating in 1977 as valedictorian, Brannen went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Recreation at Georgia State University and his Master of Divinity from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.
While working towards his degrees, Brannen began his long career in ministry at Midway United Methodist Church (UMC) as a choir director and youth director for three years. After continuing his work at Prospect UMC for a year, he then transferred to Mount Carmel UMC as a student pastor and became an ordained deacon.
When Brannen became an elder in the Methodist Church he served Old Camp UMC for 19 years, then returned to Prospect for 16 years. He served his last two years in ministry at Thomson First UMC before retiring in December 2019.
Brannen found many ways to continue his community involvement through leadership and faithful contributions. He was a member of Rotary Club and honored as a Paul Harris Fellow, served as president and past-president on the board of the Kiwanis Club of Conyers and honored with the Walter Zeller Fellowship. He also held the position of vice-chair on the Newton County Recreation Board. As a chaplain, Brannen worked with the West Georgia football team and the Blue Knights, a motorcycle club for police officers. During his career he served on a variety of committees of the North Georgia Annual Conference on conference and district levels. Brannen’s career has also taken him across the globe, including Thailand (15 times), Ghana and Togo in West Africa, Mexico (nine times), Brazil and the Philippines.
Since retiring, Brannen joined the board of directors for Global Servants and now serves as Chief of Staff.
“God has blessed me and opened the doors for me to be a part of many exciting aspects of ministry around the world,” said Brannen. “I have been a part of the board of directors of Global Servants as not only a member, but also as secretary and most recently chair of the board, before I stepped down to be employed at Global Servants.”
While continuing to utilize his efforts towards providing a better life for those at home and around the world, Brannen earned several awards throughout his career. Brannen received the Newton County Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” award, and the Harry Denman Evangelism Award from the North Georgia Annual Conference.
Brannen’s advice to current Reinhardt Eagles is to take hold of opportunities the University offers its students.
“To the current students and those entering Reinhardt, I would say to dive in and take advantage of all that this great school has to offer. Be involved and enjoy your time there.”
Brannen married his high school sweetheart, Darlene Hearn, in 1978. He convinced her to attend Reinhardt along with him. They now have two daughters and four grandchildren together.
“My wife and I were blessed to be a part of Reinhardt College and all of the faculty, staff and friends strengthened and encouraged us to be more than we ever thought possible at the time.”