On October 26, 2023, the religious community and the city of Dallas suffered a great loss. Rev. Bryan Dunagan, who had served as the senior pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church for nine years, passed away at the age of 44. His sudden demise left the congregation and the community shaken, but it also highlighted the remarkable impact he had during his life and ministry. Here’s what we know so far about his unexpected death.
What happened to Rev. Bryan Dunagan?
Rev. Dunagan’s death occurred unexpectedly while he slept. The news, conveyed via email from Executive Pastor Jay Lee, left the church’s 5,500 members and the surrounding community in disbelief and deep sadness. The church leadership asks the public to honor the privacy of the Dunagan family.
Details about Bryan Dunagan’s memorial service and guidance on supporting the
Dunagan family will be available at hppres.org/bryan as it becomes available.
Church leaders described the ministry of their late pastor 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 impact.
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. It will impact tens of thousands more for generations to come.”
What was the cause of death?
Rev. Dunagan died of natural causes; details about any possible health problems are being kept secret. His sudden death while sleeping has left his family, friends, and church members shocked and sad.
Early Life of Bryan Dunagan
Bryan Dunagan was born in Dallas, where he spent the majority of his life dedicated to serving his faith and his community. He took on the role of senior pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church at the young age of 34. Under his leadership, the church underwent significant changes, including a denominational shift and a successful capital campaign to modernize the church campus. His dedication led to a period of record growth and impact for the congregation. He never disclosed the names of his parents to the media. In a 2019 interview, he mentioned that both of his parents had passed away the year prior. However, he did have a loving family of his own.
Dunagan was known for his exceptional communication skills and his humble approach to leadership. His life’s work was centered around sharing the love of Christ and guiding people from all generations to find and follow Jesus. He was passionate about spreading the gospel, fostering discipleship, encouraging prayer, and establishing community churches like Peak Street Church, Grace Church Lake Highlands, and Good Shepherd Oak Cliff. These initiatives touched thousands of lives during his lifetime and are poised to impact tens of thousands more in the generations to come.
Before serving at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dunagan was the teaching pastor at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. During his time there, he played a pivotal role in engaging younger generations and increasing participation in weekly worship. His journey in ministry also took him to Presbyterian congregations in California, Houston, and Washington State, where he continued to inspire and guide congregations in their spiritual journeys.
Educational Background of Dunagan
Dunagan’s academic achievements were equally impressive. He held a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University, demonstrating his commitment to both religious and academic pursuits. He completed his education by earning a master of divinity degree from Regent College and a doctor of ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, providing him with the knowledge and wisdom to lead effectively.
Family and Mourning
Bryan Dunagan leaves behind a loving family, including his wife Ali and their three children, Annie, Wheeler, and Collier Jane. In this difficult time, the church leadership has requested that the public respect the family’s privacy as they grieve this immense loss.
Rev. Bryan Dunagan’s financial situation at the time of his passing remains undisclosed, but there are indications that he led a comfortable life. He held various important roles throughout his career, and his active involvement in his work suggested financial stability. While reports suggest an average salary for pastors is around $105,958. However, it’s worth noting that Dunagan was known for his discretion and chose to keep his financial status private.
Bryan Dunagan’s untimely passing is not just a loss for the Highland Park Presbyterian Church but also for the broader community in Dallas and beyond. His remarkable contributions to the church, his dedication to spreading the message of Christ, and his commitment to service have left an indelible mark on all those who had the privilege of knowing him. As the church and the community mourn his passing, his legacy continues to inspire and guide those he touched during his lifetime and the generations that will follow.