Dr. Rodney D. Waller is the Senior Pastor of the historic First African Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia, the third oldest African American church in the United States.
Dr. Waller has served in ministry nearly 25 years and has pastored at First African for 14 years. Under his leadership, the church has experienced tremendous growth in membership and ministry. He has led the congregation in expanding its ministry footprint through passionate worship and engaging in purposeful outreach. Dr. Waller’s desire is that, as the church First African Baptist is actively engaged in the community, proclaiming the Word of Christ, doing good deeds whenever and wherever possible to make a positive impact. He is best known for his gifted preaching, visionary leadership and love for teaching God’s Word.
Dr. Waller earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy and Religious studies from Virginia Union University, a Master of Divinity from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Virginia University of Lynchburg. He participated in the UK African American Preaching Festival in London, England. While in London, he studied at Oxford University under the leadership of Dr. Joel Gregory. Most recently, Dr. Waller pursued studies in Business Administration and earned an Executive MBA in Church Administration from Virginia Union University.
First African continues to grow under Dr. Waller’s leadership. He has a purpose focus on ministry to youth and young adults and seeks to minister to an intergenerational congregation through preaching and teaching the Word of God with power, conviction, and simplicity. Dr. Waller’s visionary spirit has led him to create on the job training initiatives to prepare students and young adults for career opportunities in media technology and business. He has also provided internships for college students.
Dr. Waller’s love and sense of compassion for others makes him no stranger to service in the community. He is a member of the Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Richmond and Vicinity where he has served as Treasurer. He was appointed by Mayor Dwight Jones to represent the City of Richmond on the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority, serving Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico. He is the past President of the Northern Neck Ministers’ Conference and the Jesse DuPont Foundation Church Resource Service. He serves on Board of the Children’s Home of Virginia Baptist and serves as the current Chair. Most recent, Dr. Waller serves as Director of Faith-Based Initiatives at VUU. He is a member of the Hampton Ministers’ Conference Executive Board, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Dr. Waller’s compassion for God’s people is demonstrated in the way he leads and is shared in the pages of his books. He is the author of Leadership Empowerment, a second edition of Leadership Empowerment: Behind the Scenes of Excellence and most recently, Burning Bright without Burning Out, and co-author of The History of First African Baptist Church, released January 2023.
Dr. Waller believes the church’s purpose is to motivate, inspire, and challenge God’s people to discover and live according to His divine WORD.