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Irene Pierce interview, 2021-07-15

Identifier: dcpl_dcohc034_04.wav

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

D.C. Oral History Collaborative (DCOHC) is a citywide initiative to train community members in oral history skills, fund new and ongoing oral history projects, connect volunteers with oral history projects, and publicize existing oral history collections. DCOHC is a project of DC Public Library, HumanitiesDC, and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. This collection contains oral history interviews, transcripts, and indexes produced by DCOHC grantees.


  • Creation: 2021-07-15


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Born in Pickens, South Carolina, in 1926, Rev. Irene C. Pierce moved to Northeast Washington, D.C., at the age of nine. She lived with an aunt and uncle but also formed a strong bond with a couple who later introduced her to Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., where she has maintained a lifelong presence. A graduate of Cardozo High School, she was recruited into the Treasury Department in her senior year and began a 40-year career with the federal government, later working at the National Production Authority and the Department of Commerce. After a lifetime of service to the United Methodist Church, inside Asbury and around the world, always with a strong interest in women’s issues and education, Rev. Pierce was finally able to answer a call to the ministry. She received her license to preach at the age of 68, when she became the pastor of Elijah United Methodist Church in Poolesville, Maryland. At the age of 72, she retired from this church and returned to a paid position at Asbury, working on congregational care and various projects. Today, Rev. Pierce continues to volunteer with Asbury, and is a member of the Africa University Advisory Development Committee. She resides in Largo, Maryland, and has a daughter, two granddaughters and one great-granddaughter and one great-grandson.


From the Collection: 1.13 Terabytes


A career federal employee who answered the call to ministry in the United Methodist Church later in life, Rev. Irene C. Pierce reflects on her 95 years. This includes her early childhood and a later visit to Pickens, South Carolina; her church life, extending beyond Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., to the general church and then pastoring a small Black church in a mostly white town; dealing with racism while trying to climb the ladder at the Treasury and Commerce departments; coping with the challenges women faced in trying to be considered for positions within the church, from usher to pastor. She speaks in depth of her esteem for and work with Africa University, a higher education institution in Zimbabwe, founded by the United Methodist Church; as well as missionary engagements around the world including one involving meeting Mother Teresa. In addition to Asbury’s history, the interview also covers Rev. Pierce’s thoughts about the present-day congregation and what the future may hold for it. This interview was conducted virtually.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001