James David Gailliard was born and raised in North Philadelphia.

After graduating from the nationally acclaimed Central High School for Boys, he matriculated to Morehouse College where he was on both Honor Roll and Dean’s List. He furthered his studies at St. Joseph’s University. His academic background is an unusual combination of theology, counseling and business administration.

As a pastor for the past 20 years, Gailliard has blended together principles from pastoral ministry and public policy to form a collaborative model of human, economic and community development warmly regarded as Project Thrive. He has served as senior pastor of Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount, NC since 2005. The church has grown from 14 people to a mega-church serving thousands of families from ten counties across the state and six counties in Virginia. In 2013, it was named among the 100 fastest growing churches in America.

With the help of foundations and private firms, Word Tabernacle initiated a $13 million, 125,000 sq. ft shared use building project in 2015 which will be home to nine independent, yet collaborative Centers addressing Capacity Building: Social Justice, Research and Evaluation; Childhood Literacy and Development; College & Career Readiness; Culinary Arts & Hospitality; Faith, Family & Personal Development; Health & Wellness; Leadership Development; Media & Broadcast and Performing Arts & Worship.

In 2019, Gailliard took on a new role: state representative for N.C. House District 25 (Rocky Mount and Nash County) in the General Assembly. He currently serves on the Appropriations, Appropriations-Education, Education K-12, Health and School Safety committees. He is also involved with the Agriculture and Rural Jobs, Broadband, Education, Elections and Medicaid workgroups.

Community Involvements

  • Board of Preachers, Morehouse College

  • Board of Visitors, North Carolina Wesleyan College

  • Board of Visitors, Shaw University School of Divinity

  • Member, Kiwanis Club

  • Fellow, North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership

Former Boards

  • The Tar River United Way

  • Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce

  • Tar River Mission Clinic

Awards and Recognition (Abbreviated)

  • Billy Graham Award in Evangelism, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

  • Church Planter of the Year, North American Mission Board Alpharetta, GA

  • Distinguished Citizen of the Year, Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce, Rocky Mount, NC

  • Citizen of the Year, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Rocky Mount, NC

  • Citizen of the Year, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Rocky Mount, NC

  • Pastor of the Year, Rocky Mount Telegram, Rocky Mount, NC


  • Motorcycling

  • Billiards