Brant Shive Copeland has a heart for service

Person of the Week

Brant Shive Copeland


By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook

Born in Brownsville, Texas, Brant Copeland grew up in Texas and Louisiana, and was educated at Rhodes College in Memphis, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. From the time he was called as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Adams Street and Park Avenue in downtown Tallahassee in 1985, he has been a constant and vocal advocate for those in need. He and First Presbyterian Church are like the quote by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty that beckons, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

The church, completed in 1838, is the oldest in Tallahassee and the oldest building in Florida still used for its original purpose. When Brant was called as Pastor, he was a good match for a church that had become a leader locally on progressive causes. He led the effort in the late eighties to gain government assistance for a Cold Night Shelter for Tallahassee’s homeless, established a meal program at the church, and provided warm clothing and blankets. He continues to support the Shelter, now called the Kearney Center, at a new location.

Today he and Rabbi Jack Romberg co-chair of the Tallahassee Interfaith Clergy, an organization committed to inter-faith conversation and cooperation on social action that improves the quality of life in our community. Brant currently serves on the Board of Directors of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, where he chairs the Patient-and-Family-Centered Care Committee. He is, also, a long-time Director at Big Bend Hospice; served on the boards of Red Cross and Big Bend Cares, and the City of Tallahassee’s Anti-Apartheid and Ethics Advisory Committees. Brant’s complete commitment to social justice causes is demonstrated through his service as a Trustee of the Kindred Spirit Charitable Trust, a ministry to prisoners on death row and their families. He gives and gives from the heart. And it runs in the family.

His wife, Alexandra, is Director of the First Presbyterian Pre-School, Tallahassee’s first racially integrated preschool. Brant and Alexandra have two sons. Adam is a Presbyterian minister on the faculty of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota; and Ian is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University. Their parents have set a wonderful example for them and this community.

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