When I was a young pastor some sixteen years ago, going through the wearisome vicissitudes of leading my first church and facing what would turn out to be a watershed moment in my life, I found myself isolated and uncertain, with no one close who could experientially relate to what I was going through.
It was at this time that God placed Bishop Joey Johnson in my life. Bishop Joey covered me, gave me wise counsel, and spoke life over me—as he still does to this day. It was his advice during that difficult time that ultimately led me to start The Word Church. I have a heart, burden, and anointing for other senior pastors. I take it as seriously as I do my calling to The Word Church.
I look forward to serving you and connecting with you real soon. In His Name, R. Vernon is the founder and senior pastor of The Word Church, the largest and fastest growing church in the history of Cleveland, Ohio and one of the fastest growing churches in America. Through his bold, frank delivery of the Word of God, he crusades to free other church leaders from the fetters of foundationless formality.
With over twenty-five years in ministry and nearly two decades in the pastorate, Dr. Vernon has enjoyed a prolific, storied career in pastoring, but consciously chooses to never stop growing, personally or vocationally.
Having started with only one service in a high school in , The Word Church is now a multisite ministry with fourteen services and four campuses across Northeastern Ohio including Warrensville Heights Main , Downtown, East Cleveland, and Akron, which is currently under renovation, opening in the spring of A believer in the power of cash over credit and the importance of stewardship, Dr. Vernon opened The Word Church Downtown in the fall of , completely debt free.
Known for his uncompromising integrity, he is a trailblazer and trendsetter who focuses on relevance and innovation. Because of the number of weekly worship services at The Word, Dr. Vernon developed the concept of pre-recorded broadcasting for the services he is unable to attend due to time and distance constraints—a ground-breaking move among African-American churches. He also adopted the practice of planting campus pastors to lead the satellite locations so that the members at these locations still receive a personal touch even when he is not physically present.
Vernon is committed to continual improvement and creating opportunities for others to improve as well. He shares candidly about the challenges the local church faces and provides spiritual, solution-driven responses to matters of social inequality and political injustice with cultural sensitivity. Vernon knows the importance of mentorship, and founded The Shepherds Connection, a coterie of some senior pastors around the nation to whom he provides creative leadership, guidance, and spiritual direction.
Vernon has an ambitious appetite for both educating and learning and has a diploma of theology with a concentration in black church studies, a master of arts in practical theology, and a doctorate of ministry with a concentration in church growth, all from Ashland Theological Seminary. He is honored to be married to First Lady Victory Vernon and they have five children. Vernon, fill out the questionnaire below, and our administrative team will contact you soon.