Good Faith Media Executive Editor/Publisher John D. Pierce is set to retire at the end of this year, following more than two decades of expanding and innovating the organization’s flagship publication — Nurturing Faith Journal, formerly Baptists Today — in addition to founding and developing Nurturing Faith Books and the Jesus Worldview Initiative.
A native of Ringgold, Georgia, Pierce earned degrees from Berry College (BA, Religion and Philosophy), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity), and Columbia Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry).
He began his career as a Baptist campus minister, serving first at Kennesaw State University in Marietta, Georgia, and then at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. He was editor of the Religious Services Guide for the 1996 Summer Olympics and wrote stories from inside Olympic Village.
Journalism marked the remainder of Pierce’s career, first as managing editor of Georgia Baptists’ Christian Index. Then in 2000 he became editor of Baptists Today (now Nurturing Faith Journal) and in 2012 the founding publisher of Nurturing Faith Books — now publishing ventures of Good Faith Media.
Pierce’s professional awards include the Wilmer C. Fields Award for editorial writing and first-place awards for best news magazine and best redesign from Baptist Communicators Association, and the DeRose/Hinkhouse Award of Excellence for newspaper feature series and magazine writing from the Religious Communicators Council.
A founding board member of Cobb County (Georgia) Habitat for Humanity, Pierce has been a frequent speaker to community and church-related organizations. His interim pastorates have included First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Vineville Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia.
Over the past three years, Pierce helped form and shape Good Faith Media. GFM’s CEO Mitch Randall praised Pierce as “one of the greatest faith-based journalists of our time. During a very difficult and confusing time in Baptist life, Johnny’s insightful, challenging and informative style educated and inspired readers across the world. In the second half of his career, he reminded Christians of their commitment to Jesus. The Jesus Worldview Initiative has been one of many great contributions throughout Johnny’s storied career. Personally, I have found it an incredible privilege to work with him as we created Good Faith Media.”
Several notable Baptist leaders expressed appreciation for Pierce’s friendship and his contributions.
“I consider John Pierce to be the leading voice for moderate Baptists in our country,” said Don Brewer, a former board chair of Baptists Today/Nurturing Faith and long-time lay leader at First Baptist Church in Gainesville, Georgia, where Pierce now attends church. “I am grateful for his leadership, influence and friendship.”
Mary Jayne Allen, a former advisor to the publication, called Pierce “a creative journalist who has gifted us with insightful editorials, interviews, stories and so much more. As a Christian educator, I’m grateful for his vision and leadership that have kept us well-informed as free and faithful Baptists.”
Church historian Walter B. Shurden, a former board chair who is retired from Mercer University, praised Pierce’s many contributions.
“For almost two and a half decades, Johnny Pierce wrote clearly in plain English language about Baptist nouns: Baptist people, Baptist places and Baptist things,” he said. “A denominational sleuth, he knew as much about our goings-on as anyone.”
“A gifted interviewer and a polished feature writer, Johnny served incognito as one of our best everyday theologians,” added Shurden. “He always put heady stuff on the bottom shelf so everyone could reach it.”
Theologian Fisher Humphreys, a former board member who is professor emeritus of Beeson Divinity School, observed that Pierce “has energetically used his immense editorial, journalistic and entrepreneurial gifts to make Nurturing Faith Journal indispensable to non-fundamentalist Baptists in our nation and, in the process, he has also made it an inspiring and instructive resource for Christians of all denominations.”
Good Faith Media board member Kelly Belcher, a North Carolina-based chaplain, reflected on the inclusiveness of Pierce’s career.
“Johnny has been a friend to Baptists of all stripes as the chronicler of our lives,” she said. “His gift of seeing us as we are — missing nothing, speaking truth to power, offering support and mercy and a spotlight to the underdog through nearly 25 years of spiritual joy and painful loss — lands his words at the side of Jesus.”
Belcher added: “His insight reveals us to each other and creates connections that bring communion to Baptists across the country through the pages of the journal we love to read.”
Journalism was the pinnacle of Pierce’s career, as noted by veteran journalist Marv Knox, former editor of the Texas Baptist Standard.
“Johnny’s journalism has been grounded in deep empathy and compassion,” said Knox. “So, he consistently has helped readers consider the human condition in dialogue with a loving God.”
William Neal, former editor of the Georgia Baptist Christian Index and currently a Good Faith Media board member, recruited and mentored Pierce.
“I believe John Pierce to be the preeminent Baptist journalist of the early 21st century,” Neal says of his former colleague’s work. “I say that not only because of his penetrating editorial writing, but he also gives voice to many other ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’ through his insightful interviews and feature stories.”
Tony Cartledge, who writes the Nurturing Faith Bible Studies for Good Faith Media and is professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School, was formerly editor of the North Carolina Biblical Recorder.
“I have known Johnny Pierce as a colleague for 25 years and worked directly with him for much of that time,” said Cartledge. “As editor, Johnny has demonstrated an impressive devotion to providing news, features and resources designed to inform readers of important issues and to inspire believers toward faith and discipleship.”
“His insightful writing and administrative skills are matched by his care in building relationships with co-workers, supporters and donors,” added Cartledge. “I count it a privilege to have been part of Johnny’s team.”
Those who have worked alongside Pierce during his years of leadership with Baptists Today/Nurturing Faith, and now Good Faith Media, celebrate his contributions and wish him the best in his next chapter of life.
For his part, Pierce is exploring post-retirement possibilities that will surely include more time on hiking trails in national parks.
Managing Editor for Publishing and Experiences Director at Good Faith Media. He is a historian, lecturer, public speaker, award-winning author and award-winning photographer.