The Reverend James Alexander Bryan, “Brother Bryan”, was one of the best known and well thought of men to have lived in Birmingham. He was an ordained Minister of the Word and a walking example of the quotation in Acts 10:38 – “He went about doing good.” During his life, he did more for the homeless of Birmingham than anyone before him. It is said that one of Brother Bryan’s most beloved scripture passages was Matthew 25:35-40 which has become the focal scripture of the Brother Bryan Mission. It begins with, 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ It ends with, … whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Before he died, Brother Bryan made a request to a few of his closest friends to establish a place that would take the poor and down-trodden men of Birmingham off the streets and give them food, shelter and care. His request was fulfilled and Birmingham Alabama’s first mission for the homeless was born.
The Brother Bryan Mission was established in 1940 by a few dedicated and prayerful individuals. Its first location was limited to five rooms on the top floor of a building on 20th street. In 1945 the mission made its first move to a larger facility. Now after four moves the mission is located at 1616 Second Avenue North, Birmingham Alabama, 35203.
To learn more about the history of the Brother Bryan Mission and its founder, James A. Bryan read Hunter B. Blakely’s Religion in Shoes. Call the Mission at 322-0092 to obtain a copy.