Note from the Editor: This is an exciting time to get to know Dennae Pierre, who you may or may not actually know. Earlier, we did get the opportunity to read her new book, but I’m happy to highlight her life right here! Check out the book review here: Healing Prayers and Meditations to Resist a Violent World. — Jennifer
Where did you grow up and how did you end up here? I’ve been here my entire life! My mom and her family immigrated from Honduras, dad’s family New England…. My grandfather on my mother’s side was obsessed with the Wild West and moved the entire family here. I was born in Peoria and lived in the West Valley until 8th grade when we came to North Central Phx.
What’s your job? I work with pastors and church leaders, & wear a few different hats. I lead a network of churches in Arizona called Surge Network. We help churches like Roosevelt be a faithful presence in their neighborhoods. Our churches collaborate together for theological formation of lay leaders, seminary training, justice/mercy, and prayer.
In addition to that I am stepping into a new role to co-direct the Crete Collective and I co-lead City to CIty North America (CTCNA). The Crete Collective is a new non-profit focused on planting churches in black and brown, low income neighborhoods….. and CTCNA is a collective of city-focused church planting networks. Phoenix is collaborating with Chicago, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and the Bay to help our cities train church planters and strengthen the church in each of our cities.
It sounds like a lot, but it’s all pretty integrated. I love, love my job and get paid to hang with amazing leaders all day. I also hold all the jobs associated with being a mama…. a wife…. an RCC member….and wife of Pastor Vermon…and maybe a writer.
Why are you at Roosevelt? I came to RCC looking to be part of a multi-ethnic church plant. I joined the core team (and became quick friends with Vermon). We spent a lot of time talking mission, church planting, race, justice, reconciliation, and theology. Then, I left for Tanzania for an internship and was not intending on looking back…except there was a good reason to look back. 😉 Within a few weeks of returning from Tanzania, Vermon asked me out. We told Pastor Bob and a few leaders, but kept it a secret beyond that…. but we quickly fell in love, engaged, and married.
So that’s how I got here. But I wouldn’t say it’s why I’m at RCC now. 2015-2017 was a painful season both personally and vocationally. It was challenging to be in a multi-ethnic church as division & polarization were growing in race and politics. In addition to that, I wasn’t always sure how to fit being a female leader within our church context at the time. But I can say I’m here at Roosevelt and absolutely love our church family because of how the elders loved us through that almost unbearable season. They sent us on sabbatical. They paid for retreats, asked deep & supportive questions of us as we pursued individual and marriage counseling, healed from burnout and church hurt, and re-committed with us to this vision of being a church committed to reconciliation.
Of course at the end of the day, we are a church with plenty of flaws, weaknesses, and challenges (of which i personally contribute to :))….but for me it’s become such a sacred place and beautiful family….I’m here because of the countless friendships (new & old), Pastor Bob’s ability to mourn or rejoice with me depending on my mood, and most of all the pure joy of being on mission with true brothers and sisters., I’ve felt loved through pain, cared for when wounded, tenderly provoked to repent when in error, and championed when strong. Few pastors wives can say they are in a church where they are accepted for who they are & can be themselves…. I’m humbled and grateful that I’ve been given this precious gift by our beautiful church family.
How long have you been here? Since almost the beginning…. there’s some debate on what was the beginning. 🙂 So I don’t know. But it was a very small core team.
How long have you been a Christian? I remember even before Kindergarten having deep encounters with Jesus…. dreams, vivid prayer conversations, conviction, and a draw to follow Him. All growing up youth groups, youth pastors, teachers, etc nurtured my faith, pressed me into leadership, and discipled me.
What are your hobbies? I love to hike, read, travel, & write. Besides that…..it’s funny to say, but kids are a hobby. I really have a lot of fun with my kids & their friends. I do get tired/impatient like any other mom, but for the most part I get a lot of energy from them and they spark tons of creativity. I guess God knew that I always needed little ones around when He surprised us with this new one cooking who is going to be substantially younger then her 19, 16, 11, and 7 year old siblings!
Name two things on your bucket list. (1) Take entire family to South Africa to worship, be with friends, and hang with church planters. (2) Take each kid 1:1 on a trip overseas.
What is your favorite book? Goodness…too many, but some of my fave authors: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Howard Thurman, CS Lewis, Rene Padilla, Martha Kilpatrik
What is your favorite movie? I don’t love TV/ Movies….but I’m happy to fall asleep curled up next to V about 3 minutes into whatever weird superhero thing he’s watching.
What is it like having a son as a Marine? I’m so proud of Marcel and how intentionally he’s pursuing his goals and honestly in awe of this insane process he went through to complete the crucible and become a Marine! But what is it like? If you have not judged me up until this point (kudos to you, see why i love our church?) then this may be the tough one for some folks…
BUT I’m uncomfortable with it. I read Scripture pretty radically. Both the Sermon on the Mount and studying non-violence resistance movements have deeply formed me. I resonate with theological frameworks that make a case for pacifism. And ethically, I don’t love that they started recruiting my boy with pizza and lunch while he was 15.
That said, one of the things I love about Marcel is his ability to dialogue about anything and everything. We talked and talked for the many years he contemplated the decision . He respected my position, made thoughtful counter points, and I support him & respect his decision. He made an adult decision and desires both to serve others and lay a foundation for his future. I’m proud of him, I respect those in the military, and I believe he will be needed light in a place that needs Christians who are loyal to Christ and His Kingdom and don’t confuse it with the powers and kingdoms of this world. I hope to communicate to my kids that I desire to support & learn from them, even when and where I disagree with them. I want them to know that it is the Holy Spirit who gives Roosevelt, or our marriage, or our family unity, not agreement.
Besides all that, I miss him a lot and the littles especially have struggled with him not being around. But thankfully for now he’s a Reservist & so while he may eventually go full active…I’m glad we get a few years of having him around as a “college kid.”