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Rev. Dr. James H. Wilkes, Jr.



Rev. Dr. James H. Wilkes, Jr. is a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, and he is the only child of the late Mr. James H. Wilkes, Sr. and the late Mrs. Deborah Wright Wilkes. On September 23, 2017, he married Miss Melia Olivia Burris, also of Gastonia and they have one son, Master James H. Wilkes, III.

Rev. Dr. Wilkes is a graduate of the Gaston County Public School System. He graduated from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Business Management. Rev. Wilkes is also a graduate of Wake Forest University where he received his Master of Divinity degree (MDiv). On April 5, 2022, he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation while in pursuit of his Doctor of Ministry degree (D.Min.) in Transformational Leadership at Boston University.

Rev. Dr. Wilkes answered the call to ministry at the age of 13. In July 2007, he was licensed to preach the Gospel while at the historic Mount Calvary Baptist Church (Gastonia) and was ordained in 2011. He served at the church of his childhood under the impactful leadership of Pastor James Burris, while simultaneously serving as President of the Youth Missionary Department, a member of the Evangelistic Ministry and Youth Adviser. He is also the Founder of Youth Connected 4 Christ Ministries. Later, Rev. Dr. Wilkes served as the Assistant to the Pastor of the Genesis Church in Gastonia, North Carolina where Rev. Johnny D. Brown, III is the current pastor. He also served as a ministerial staff member at Union Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC, under the direction of Dr. Sir Walter L. Mack II.

On Monday, July 25, 2016, Rev. Dr. Wilkes was voted unanimously as Senior Pastor of Elon First Baptist Church in Elon, NC and was officially installed as the church’s eighth pastor on October 16, 2016.

The ministry of Pastor James H. Wilkes, Jr. can be described as a unique theological blend. Each Sunday morning, he mounts the pulpit as a seasoned minister of the gospel, utilizing his dynamic gift of preaching to unearth biblical truths to save, set free and renew the people of God. He unapologetically emphasizes the importance of holy living. While at the same time, he energetically pursues nontraditional ministry avenues by collaborating with the people of Elon to present relevant ministry opportunities which have intergenerational appeal. He also partners with diverse community groups to meet the needs of people who are underserved and underrepresented in Alamance County.

Most importantly, Pastor Wilkes loves the Lord and firmly stands on the word of God. He knows that Jeremiah 29:11 remains true: “For I know the plans that I have for you saith the Lord, plans to prosper you and give an expected future.”

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