Gifted, anointed, blessed, diverse. What do these words mean to you? When I hear them I think of someone who has undoubtedly been favored by God to be a blessing to many. This is the case with Pastor Vander “Danny” Purcell Jr. Born in Greensboro, NC to Bishop Vander D. Purcell Sr. (1/18/38 – 02/05/2013) and Evangelist Dola Purcell (1/31/1940 – 07/04/2008), he is affectionately known as Pastor Danny to some and simply as “Danny” to many. He understood at a tender age what it meant to fear the Lord. His parents were God fearing and would not allow he and his sisters to stray too far. Pastor Danny had a normal childhood, but he tested limits at times. He quickly discovered he did not ‘fit in’ with the crowd.
He adamantly dispels the stereotype that all preachers’ kids are troublesome by responding, “It’s not that preacher’s kids are bad, some preacher’s kids can be challenging because they try to fit into roles not meant for them – the same as with anyone. However, people do what they want to do and are fully aware of choices made. Many people attempt to find other people doing the same things they like to do. Sometimes we just don’t fit it in.” He neither recalls feeling peer pressure from friends nor did he feel inferior by being the son of two ministers. He states, “it was in my youth that I found out who I was and who I was not; no one knows whether they will be a pastor at a young age; I knew I would be doing something just not sure what. I tried to fit in with the crowd and a particular type of people and found out it didn’t work.” Additionally at an early age, he realized his gift and passion in music by singing and playing the keyboard and organ. His influences not only came from home, but also from members of the church who would “make” him sing. Pastor Danny showed his jovial side by invoking us to laughter in his interview; imagine being told by a church mother, “child you better sing.” He recalls his friends Carlos Townsend, Barry Parker and their grandmothers being a significant part of his life and his musical influence; many days were spent singing and worshiping, or simply spending time at the church.
Pastor Danny described the impact of his father’s ministry as a major influence in his life as well. His father is primarily the reason he has become who he is today. The late Bishop Vander D. Purcell Sr. extended a legacy within Greensboro and many other areas by serving in ministry for 53 years before passing away earlier this year. His teaching permeates the fabrics of many lives, communities, and homes. Ministry leaders would call him for advice or prayer. Many of these leaders attended his bible studies as well, recognizing Bishop Purcell taught on such an in depth level that left his ‘students’ with a hunger to learn even more.
The ministry was birthed in the Purcell living room and Pastor Danny provided the ministry its name, “Sanctuary Deliverance Church of the Living Word.” The first building was opened in 1983 on the Southside of Greensboro.
When asked, “how did your father’s death affect you?” He gave these words, “people must understand the words man, mandate, and mantle. All of these words have the single word ‘man’ in them.” He further explained, “I wasn’t given the mantle because I was merely his son because I could receive the mantle without being his son. I was given the mantle because I was with him, the man, in his suffering.” Bishop Purcell’s sickness and last days were very difficult for Pastor Danny as he recalled feeling alone and as if he had no support from those whom he thought would stand with him during this time. “I was deeply hurt by things that happened during my father’s final days. People I had helped left me, this hurt me,” he explained.
Nevertheless, he stayed by Bishop’s side and held his hand until life was no more, understanding the mandate his father had spoken to him and realizing his father’s mantle had been passed to him. Even though he now experiences the pain and anguish of losing both his parents within less than a decade apart, Pastor Danny’s faith in God and his desire to help people and restore communities pushes him forward. He knows he has been commissioned to help others realize who they are and what they are to become for the Kingdom of God. He acknowledges that before becoming a pastor he was a servant and a friend, therefore, his first priority is people.
In 1998, Pastor Purcell was ordained as a minister under his father and had been serving in ministerial capacity for a number of years as the Founder and Pastor of Total Restoration Center (TRC) before being installed as the Senior Pastor of Sanctuary Deliverance on July 27thof this year. He had already been presiding and ministering in the services at Sanctuary when his dad became ill, but was officially named the senior pastor this past summer. His ministry, TRC, is comprised of young adult families, singles, and those who have not been exposed to traditional church life. Although the ministry is fairly young, celebrating nine years this year, it continues to grow.
TRC has a solid foundation with a tremendous focus on community outreach and meeting people where they are. His support with Total Restoration Center comes from none other than his wife Zalonda and their children, Trey and Hope. Pastor Danny states, “I understood two things, if I was going to be married and be a pastor, my wife had to love children and she had to be wise.”
Pastor Purcell had been a single parent to his son Vander Purcell III (Trey) since he was three years old and for many years did not understand what it was like for single mothers. Now he empathizes, for he had lived it for a number of years and experienced all of the things that come with parenting – late night feedings, crying, diapers and more. He expresses a deep respect and appreciation for single mothers and is willing to do what he can to help those who experience struggles balancing life, parenting, and work. Though parenting never ends, he feels as if he has completed his assignment by being a stern father and grooming Trey for life. Vander III will attend North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University this fall and then has plans to attend University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He describes their daughter as being hope, as her name suggests. He stated, “She is just like me, she sings and wants to do the things I do.”
For individuals dating or for those desiring a spouse, Pastor Danny offers this advice, “If you have children, marry someone who loves your children because you are a package.” He is grateful Zalonda accepted him and his son as the package they are and states, “She keeps me calm.” He recognizes Zalonda’s strength brings balance to their union because she uses wisdom and keen insight to make decisions affecting their lives, family, and ministry. Together they stand firm on the foundation of marriage, though not perfect, they have become an example to families within TRC and the community. In the midst of being a pastor, a husband, and a father, Pastor Purcell is a business man. He is the owner of Publishing Professionals, a small graphic design company, servicing several clients within Greensboro and surrounding areas.
Pastor Danny knows that business could be his primary focus. However, his thoughts are centered toward helping people become who they are meant to be so he pours his heart and life into ministry and serving humanity. Therefore balancing many hats is not burdensome for him. It is part of his mandate.
Pastor Purcell has no future plans to consolidate the ministries. He faithfully preaches and serves TRC and Sanctuary Deliverance Church of the Living Word with services being held at both churches each Sunday. He envisions tremendous growth for both ministries, yet he understands the demographics of each church are not diverse enough to combine services at this time. He truly has a heart for people and speaks with individuals from all walks of life. He remains touchable not only to his congregations, but to others who may need assistance with life situations. His encouraging words resonate, “I become all men, that I may win some . . . there are many assignments and we must finish our assignments. God gives us assignments and we must complete each one. You can’t love God and dislike people; your relationship with God has to be so firm that you understand the importance that it is not about what you can get from people. You have to adapt to where people are in their lives; you can never give people the impression that it is only about the blessings of God. It is about a relationship with God first. We are his servants and we must base all relationships with the undertone of being a servant, then more relationships will not be damaged.”
As he transparently shares his life with others, he admonishes and inspires each of us to protect and share the gifts God gives to us. “When God gives us