Pastoral Leadership

Opening sentences from a Business NC writeup on my life and ministry.

“It has been 14 years since James David Gailliard sat down in borrowed space in Rocky Mount with a dozen others and founded Word Tabernacle Church. Collection plates yielded $75,000 in 2005. Since then, he and the church have weathered personal tragedies, recession, hostile politics and other headwinds. Today, Word Tabernacle has 3,200 members, 33 employees, donations that exceed $3 million annually and assets of $14 million.

As if borrowed from an eastern North Carolina sunrise, pastel bonnets and Sunday suits brighten the Rocky Mount sanctuary on Easter Day. In the pulpit, James Gailliard is flanked by white lilies and two purple-draped crosses. Easter’s message, says the trim pastor, wagging a slender forefinger for emphasis, is God’s promise of ‘victory over death and the grave.’ Congregants murmur amens.

Gailliard had preached about death on another spring Sunday several years before. His son, Kyol, and two other young men, all in their 20s, had died after their car slammed into a brick wall and exploded.

At the morgue, “they told me not to look at him, that I’d never get the image out of my mind,” he says. “I unzipped the bag, and there was his charred body, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.” Today, the image he cherishes is of Kyol as his sound engineer, sitting at a nearby console every Sunday as he preached, sending his voice through the church.

‘I said, ‘God, when you sent me to Rocky Mount, this wasn’t part of the deal,’” he says. “But as a pastor, it was important for me to share my grief, to show people what it’s like to go through seasons in your life when you’re questioning God.’”