Bishop Bryan J. Pierce, Sr. is Affirmed

Dawn Cauthen-Thornton | September 18th, 2017
Bishop Bryan J. Pierce, Sr (Photos by Still Shots Photography)

Bishop Bryan J. Pierce, Sr (Photos by Still Shots Photography)

How does a young boy from the third ward of New Orleans, Louisiana manage to lead Mount Zion Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in Greensboro, North Carolina? Simply put, it was in God’s plan.

Like many black families, the Pierce’s typically spent Sundays in church. From the children to the adults, everyone knew how important worshipping was so when Bryan Pierce was a mere five years old, he was baptized. The Pastor held him in his hands and told his mother that her son was going to be a preacher. He gave her specific instructions on how he should be raised and that she most certainly should pray over him every single day. His mother knew she had a task on her hands and allowed Bryan and his siblings to listen to recorded children’s Bible stories to ensure they understood its teachings.

A year after his baptism, the first grader began to get reprimanded for talking in class, until one day, his teacher decided to call him to the front of the room and allow him to share what was so heavy on his six-year-old mind. Bryan stood up and explained to his peers what he had been learning during his home Bible study sessions. His teacher was speechless. She was so moved that she called in another teacher (who was also a Christian) to come and hear him speak on things that no other child his age knew. Stunned, both teachers shuffled him to every classroom on their hall throughout that week to show off their prized pupil. Bryan remembers, “They eventually called my mother and said they wanted her to come and see what I had been up to in school, so of course she thought I was in trouble. And so did I.”

Unbeknownst to young Bryan and his mother, he was listed on the program to share his biblical knowledge during the next school assembly – in front of the entire school. Once his mother saw the prophesy come to pass, she broke down in tears and ushered him back to the Pastor who had originally baptized him, showing him the gift that he had spoken of.

“Because there were skeptics, the Pastor wanted to ‘watch me’ to see for himself. They wanted to know that it was real,” explained the Bishop. So, for the next three years he was under his Pastor’s direct tutelage as he dug deeper into his faith. At nine years old, the man who had taken Bryan under his wing and observed the true gift he had been blessed with decided it was time. It was time for him to share this anointed young man with the world. Bryan was finally licensed.

Bishop Pierce traveled around the city as well as neighboring states preaching whatever God had put on his heart. “I was called on for almost every youth event nearby. I didn’t have notes or a manuscript to work from. I would just read what was in the Bible and then talk about it.” There were newspaper clippings and articles showing him preaching the gospel at revivals and events all over the area.

Years went by before young Bryan started feeling the pressures of being in his position. His friends started shunning him. Not because they were jealous, but because they respected his calling. They revered him so much that they wouldn’t allow him to hang out with them, citing his ‘Preacher Boy’ status. At that time, the streets of New Orleans were dangerous and filled with gangs and violence, even more than it is today. “When I wanted to go do things with them and have fun, they would say no and send me home.” Bryan quickly grew tired of that and tried to boost his street status by rebelling against what he knew was right. He slowly drifted away from school and his faith to ‘fit in’. He wanted to shed the ‘Preacher Boy’ image and the perfect life the community expected him to lead. On Sunday, he would still attend church and fulfill his holy duties, but during the week, he ran the streets with the wrong kids. He even skipped class so he could continue to portray this defiant persona. It took the tragic death of two of his close friends, within the same year, for Bryan to clearly hear God’s voice. “He told me that those were strikes one and two…the third strike would be me.”

He learned that when God speaks, he has no choice but to listen. Even if that means letting go of all that you know and all that you think you love. At Bryan’s request, his parents packed up and moved the family across town to save their children. Unfortunately, because he had missed almost the entire school year due to hanging out, he decided to officially drop out of school and did not graduate with his class.

Bryan went on to become an ordained minister at 19 and later earned his High School diploma. Knowing that God had bigger things in store, he also earned an Associate’s degree in Biblical Studies, a Bachelor’s degree in Divinity, and next year will defend his thesis to obtain a Master’s degree.

It would be fair to say that Bishop Pierce has had an eventful life. His speaking ability allowed him to travel throughout his home state and share the word of God.

However, he had another talent that took him even further; singing. He was once a third of the award-winning gospel group, ‘Men of Standard’. For years, he divided his time between traveling the world sharing his musical gifts, then running back home to help pastor a local church. He realized he couldn’t do both and decided it was time to plant his feet firmly in God’s house; First in Concord, NC then later in Greensboro where he is currently the head pastor and CEO of Mount Zion Baptist Church.

With four children to raise (three sons and a daughter), Bishop Pierce and his wife of 22 years, Debra, saw the value in slowing down to actually enjoy being parents and best friends to each other. “I view my success not by how big my church is and how many awards I get, but…,” he gets choked up, “but that my son jumped in the car after his practice the other night and thanked me for showing up to his games and practices. That’s success to me. Because at the end of the day, my son knows that I didn’t put a meeting or a service or someone else before him.”

Bishop Pierce knows all too well how imperative it is for a man to show up in his child’s life. He saw too many of his friends led astray by not having that guidance. He’s a role model not only to the children in his home, but to many in his church and other new pastors wanting to travel the same road.

Oftentimes parishioners and seekers of the cloth don’t see the logistics and the dedication behind running a successful organization. “You have to a have a ‘whosoever’ will. Your target audience should be whomever doesn’t know the Lord. And I’m sometimes disappointed when I see new pastors abandon the foundation that got us here. There are some that just talk about money and not the core values like salvation and loving your neighbor.”

It’s evident that Bishop Pierce hasn’t gotten to where he is by mistake, but by favor. He knows absolutely that to whom much is given, much is definitely required. He feels he was chosen by God to deliver his message to the masses and there are many who echo those same sentiments. During our two-hour conversation, I can see why he is so loved by the church he leads, Mount Zion Baptist Church. He is never content where he is. He’s always searching for another soul to touch and another life to change. It’s a good thing he started with himself all those years ago.

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