Helping communities across the state connect their heritage arts and traditions to local development, education, and active citizenship
Pastor Brenda Peace-Jenkins
Henderson, Vance County, NC
Pastor Brenda Peace, nee Gale Jenkins, is minister of the congregation at Greater Little Zion Holy Church in the Flint Hill section of Henderson, North Carolina. Peace remembers her childhood as a good one, particularly when the mills and tobacco factories were operating. “The community was thriving because people had jobs…and they were able to buy their homes,” she explains.
Peace began playing music as a child, often in the company of her siblings. “It just came to us naturally,” she explains.
“I remember that we had an old upright piano in the house…My mother played the piano for the Junior Choir at Greater Little Zion at the time. There were seven of us, and we just sang all the time. It never dawned on me that we were gifted or talented, or that we knew how to harmonize or any of that.”
When Peace was ten years old, her mother formed the Richards Family, a family gospel group specializing in traditional sacred music. The younger members of the band, however, couldn’t help but be influenced by the secular music that was popular at the time, including rock and roll and R&B. “My mother was a very religious woman,” says Peace, “but we were lovers of music.”
The young singer continued to hone her musical skills, and the Richards Family developed a reputation as one of the most skilled gospel groups in the region. In 1997, Peace accepted the call to the ministry after she experienced a prophecy that she would eventually become the pastor of Greater Little Zion. Peace blazed a trail as Greater Little Zion’s first female pastor and its first locally-raised pastor.
Peace, who is known around her neighborhood as the Flint Hill Pastor for her dedication to the church and community, uses her prodigious musical skills to ensure that Greater Little Zion remains the warm and welcoming institution that it has been for 75 years. “What I am is not something that I chose to be; it’s not somewhere I thought I would be,” Peace explains. “I'm just being obedient to what God has given me to do. He wants me to stay in this section of town, even when these walls get torn down and a new church is built. I have to be in Flint Hill, to help this community.”