Founded in 1970, Temple Baptist Church in Selma has a large congregation with a passion for worship, its senior pastor says.
“It’s a place where people pride ourselves on teaching the love of God,” said the Rev. Rodney Pearce.
“We want people to come into our church, we want them to feel the presence of God, the love of God, and we want them to have a good time,” Pearce said.
But don’t confuse having a good time with simply being entertained, the pastor said. Instead, he subscribes to the philosophy of his predecessors, the Rev. Adrian Rogers.
Pearce said one of Rogers’ quotes has always stuck with him: “People love to go to church where people love to go to church.”
In the last 10 years, Temple Baptist has grown from around 30 people every Sunday to about 800.
Pearce was born in Goldsboro but raised in Johnston County, graduating from North Johnston High School in 1990. He lives in Princeton with his wife, Carla, and their three children, Langley, 13, Leyton, 10, and Lawson, 4.
Before becoming a pastor, Pearce sold cars and installed security systems.
With more than 80 members, the Temple Choir and Worship Band leads the church’s worship services, performing contemporary, soulful and gospel music with lyrics often taken straight from scripture. The pastor: We encourage our congregation to engage with God through worship in whatever way they feel comfortable, as long as God is glorified.
The congregation is diverse, not only racially but also socially and economically. The pastor: All are welcome at Temple just as all are welcome into God’s kingdom.
In addition to Pearce, staff members, all locals, are Gary Killebrew, executive pastor; Thomas Parker, worship pastor; Scooter Murphy, student pastor; and Gary Rhodes, part-time children’s pastor. Killebrew, Parker and Rhodes are graduates of Smithfield-Selma High School; Murphy graduated from Princeton High School.
Temple also houses the Temple Baptist Learning Center, a childcare center with 55-plus children who learn God’s word daily. Jamie Adams is the director.