Rev. Dr. Richard Lane Stryker III

From June 2000 until June 2002, Rev. Richard Lane Stryker III and family, comprising of wife, Jennie Elizabeth, and son, Waddy, served as the ministerial family for St. Paul UMC, Birmingham. Eighteen years later, they are back with an addition, daughter, Finda. Waddy is grown and out of state.

He has a rich ancestral history, including being a descendant of Bishop S. D. Ferguson, Prophet William Wade’ Harris and Bishop Francis Burns, the first black bishop in the Methodist Church. He himself was ordained to gospel ministry in 1986 in his homeland, Liberia.

While in Liberia, he lived through part of Liberia’s civil war that left an estimated 250,000 dead. As a social activist, he was on the front lines condemning the killing of innocent civilians by government troops and rebels in that civil war. He brings a pastor’s heart, a passion for social justice and a prophetic call to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Dr. Stryker began serving in North Alabama in 1997 at Rising Star UMC. As noted, he served St. Paul UMC in Birmingham and later moved to St. Thomas UMC in Sylacauga. During his time in Sylacauga and as a champion for outreach ministry, he also served as the Conference Disaster Response Coordinator and was instrumental in leading the North Alabama Conference in its relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

His appointment to St. Thomas was followed by his appointment to the Cabinet in 2007. He served eight years on the Bishop’s Cabinet, including six years as District Superintendent of Southeast District, and two years as Executive Director of Ethnic Ministries. After the Cabinet, he served five years as the pastor of River of Living Water UMC in Jasper.  

Prior to serving in North Alabama, he served as associate pastor and later pastor of the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Monrovia, Liberia, followed by service in Memphis, TN. In Memphis, in 1992, he served as one of the two founding pastors for Good Samaritan UMC, a multi-ethnic congregation.

A lifelong learner, Dr. Stryker earned a Bachelor of Theology degree from Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary in 1986, Master of Arts in Religion (1989) and Master of Divinity (1993) from Memphis Theological Seminary. In 2009, he earned the Doctor of Ministry from The School of Theology at University of the South, Sewanee.

He has published three books:

·         “Multiracial Church Dynamics: Possibilities & Challenges”

·         “Forged from Chaos: Stories and Reflections from Liberia at War”

·         “Large Barns, No Barns and 21st Century Greed: A 21st Century Look at the Story of the Rich Fool”

Dr. Stryker describes his return to St. Paul UMC as an exciting opportunity for joint ministry of laity and clergy working together for the transformation of the world, working together as part of The Alabama African-American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium and working together for peace and good will among all peoples. Stryker affirms, “May we at St. Paul UMC work together to fulfill the commission of Jesus, to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, all peoples.”