Reverend Dr. Robert Dwight Pierson was born in Woodward, Oklahoma in 1936 and passed away on December 14, 2017 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He served as a minister in the United Methodist Church for over 50 years. He received his bachelors from Northwestern State University in Alva, OK, his masters of divinity from Phillips Seminary in Enid, Oklahoma, and his doctorate of education from Oklahoma State University.
He is survived by his wife, Delia Ann Saied Pierson, his children Cheryl Lynn Pierson Danni and her husband Jerry and grandson Joseph, David Robert Pierson and his wife Sharon and grandchildren Megan and Jay, Jill Suzanne Pierson James and her husband Jeff and grandsons Joshua and Justin, Rebecca Ann Pierson, Sarah Elizabeth Pierson, Jamie Christine Pierson, his brother James Lee Pierson and his wife DeAnn, sister Jean Ann Pierson Speed and her husband Bill and dozens of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Bob was born in Woodward, Oklahoma to Dorothy and Robert Pierson. At age 14, he was the youngest Eagle Scout in Woodward County, at that time. After graduating from Woodward High School in 1954, he attended the University of Oklahoma. In his second year at OU, Bob received the call to ministry and began to serve as pastor of Capron United Methodist in Capron, Oklahoma while continuing his education at Northwestern State University. In 1962, he built a strong community that still endures today while serving as the associate and youth pastor of First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In 1969 he began serving as senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church where he would remain for 37 years. There he and his wife and partner Delia would grow a loving community of faith that would live out what they called the “Christyle,” sincerely asking in everything we say or do “What would Jesus do?” well before it was a slogan on a bracelet. They led CUMC in the building of the Family Life Center, the founding of a Sunday School class for divorcees, the Phoenix Class, and the Divorce Adjustment workshops that grew out of it.
Bob’s ministry stretched across nations, as he was invited to visit the largest United Methodist church the world, in South Korea. While serving as chairman of the Russia Initiative for Oklahoma he was the first United Methodist pastor to bring the gospel to Russia, and planted the first Methodist churches in Moscow, Voronezh and several other small cities. He also served on the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries for more than four years.
In 1994, Bob led Christ United Methodist Church to be one of the first churches to institute contemporary worship services, incorporating modern music and new traditions in groundbreaking ways. The response to these services became a springboard for major growth in CUMC’s attendance, which grew from 170 to 2000 under Bob’s leadership. This success was due to his belief that ministering to people’s needs was truly the Christ-like way to lead. His book, Needs Based Evangelism, shares his experiences and teaches congregations how to adopt this form of leadership.
Bob founded and led the United Methodist Church’s Large Church Initiative for 15 years, which served to educate leaders of the 3000 larger Methodist churches across the country. Bob was also Executive Director of Churches United in Global Missions, an ecumenical fellowship founded by Robert Schuller. He served on many other committees and ministries within Oklahoma Methodism and was known for his innovations and out-of-the-box thinking.
When Bob retired from CUMC in 2006, he was immediately asked to return and lead Bartlesville First United Methodist as interim pastor. At the same time he wrote his second book, Tell, that teaches others how to share your faith. He formed the Leadership Nexus Foundation, which seeks to raise up leaders for the transformation of the world through training events, networking and mentorship. He also ran a private consulting business, teaching from his two books in churches across the country. Bob and Delia began a home bible study that eventually grew into the Single Again workshops, to support people as they transition out of long-term relationships into single life. Up to the very end of his life, he continued to spread his message of creativity, leadership and love.
Bob’s life embodied the spirit of Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” and the story of the Good Samaritan. The impact that he and his ministry had on so many lives will be his enduring legacy.
The family will receive friends 3:00-5:00 p.m. Sunday at Ninde Brookside Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held 2:00 p.m. Monday, December 18, 2017 at Christ United Methodist Church with graveside committal to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, friends may contribute in Bob’s memory to Leadership Nexus Foundation, 7103 S. Columbia Place Tulsa, OK 74136 or www.leadershipnexus.org.
Ninde Funeral Directors, Brookside Chapel (918) 742-5556 www.ninde.com