Editor’s note: This story was updated on Oct. 30 to include memorial service details from a press release from the church.
The Rev. Bryan Dunagan, who served as Highland Park Presbyterian Church’s senior pastor for nine years, died on Oct. 26 at 44.
The church shared in an email to the congregation that the pastor, only the seventh in Highland Park Presbyterian’s 88-year history, “passed away in his sleep due to natural causes.”
“This news has left us shaken to our core, and we are struggling to come to terms with this profound loss,” the message, signed by the church’s executive pastor, Jay Lee, read. “We’re lifting up the Dunagan family, our congregation, our Family of Churches, our staff, and our entire community inside and outside of our church walls.”
“Everyone is invited to come pray together as we ask for God to give us wisdom as we grieve and to guide our church through our next steps,” the message continued. “Words cannot capture the depth of our emotions this morning. We extend our gratitude to each of you for your steadfast care, your unwavering leadership in our church’s mission, and your love for Bryan.”
Dunagan, a native Texan, served as the teaching pastor at Peachtree Presbyterian Church, a 7,000-member church in Atlanta for nine years prior to joining Highland Park Presbyterian. He’d also served at Presbyterian congregations in California, Washington, and Houston. He had a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Stanford University, a master of divinity from Regent College, and a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Dunagan leaves behind his wife, Ali, and three children: Annie, Wheeler, and Collier Jane.
Church leaders described their late pastor’s ministry in a press release issued on Oct. 27:
Dunagan’s impact on Highland Park Presbyterian Church during his tenure was
significant. After being installed as Senior Pastor in July of 2014, Dunagan faithfully
navigated a long-established congregation through a denominational change;
shepherded a successful capital campaign to update the church campus; overcame
the challenges of ministry during COVID-19; and led the church to record growth and
Dunagan was a gifted communicator and a humble servant leader, leaving behind a
legacy of sharing the love of Christ throughout his life and ministry. His passion was
transforming lives and pointing people of all generations to find and follow Jesus. His
focus on spreading the gospel, discipleship, prayer, and planting community churches
(Peak Street Church, Grace Church Lake Highlands, and Good Shepherd Oak Cliff) has
impacted thousands of lives today and will impact tens of thousands more for
generations to come.
At this time, the church leadership asks the public to honor the privacy of the Dunagan
The memorial service for Bryan Dunagan will be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1, in the Sanctuary at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, with a reception to follow. There will also be a gathering at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, which is hosting a satellite viewing at 3 p.m. in their sanctuary.
For more information, visit Highland Park Presbyterian Church’s website.