Rev. Nelson Rivers III
From the small farming community of Bennett’s Point, SC and nearby Charleston, Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III, son of Merelyn and the late Nelson Rivers, Jr., is a preacher of the Gospel, civil rights professional, and community organizer. He has served as the guest preacher at churches in 23 states from Florida to California and Hawaii.
Rev. Rivers is married to the former Carolyn Smalls of Charleston and has four children and six grandchildren. He is a proud 1968 graduate of Burke High School in Charleston, SC. He received his bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. He is a 1985 graduate of Leadership South Carolina. He was ordained at the Olivet Baptist Church of Christ in Fayetteville, GA by the late Dr. Howard W. Creecy, Sr. He is pursuing his Master of Divinity at Erskine Theological Seminary, Due West, SC.
In September 2008, Rev. Rivers became the Pastor of Charity Missionary Baptist Church in the Liberty Hill Community of North Charleston, SC. He is committed to preaching and teaching the Word of the liberating “good news” of Jesus the Christ. Under his leadership, more than 400 members have joined the Charity family! Charity is blessed with over 38 ministries and a dynamic Children’s Church. Charity’s scriptural focus is Ephesians 4:3 “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
For 35 years Rev. Rivers has worked at every level of the NAACP, including President, North Charleston Branch; Executive Director, South Carolina State Conference; Director of the Southeast Region; Chief Operating Officer and twice as Chief of Field Operations, and is currently Vice President of Stakeholder Relations of the NAACP. His work led to the election of more than 300 new black elected officials in South Carolina between 1986 and 1994. He was a leading organizer of the largest civil rights demonstration in the history of South Carolina when over 50,000 marched on the capitol in January 2000 to demand the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag.
He is on the Board of Trustees of Wilberforce University. From 1994 to 1998, he served as president of the university’s Alumni Association. During his tenure, membership tripled and the alumni contributed over $2 million to the university. Rev. Rivers has appeared on various radio and television programs including NPR, CNN, 60 Minutes, and BET Tonight with Ed Gordon among others. He had a speaking role in the movie Separate but Equal starring Sidney Poitier.
He has received numerous awards for his civil rights and community work, including:
• Order of the Palmetto, the State of South Carolina’s highest award
• Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree, Wilberforce University
• Induction in Wilberforce University Association Hall of Fame
• Induction into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame
• 2003 Harvey Gantt Triumph Award Recipient, Greater Charleston YWCA
• Medgar Evers Award of Excellence as the top NAACP staff professional
• Honored with month of October, 2008 South Carolina African American Heritage Calendar
• Among 10 Outstanding People of 2009 by Post and Courier
• Featured in the North Charleston Magazine Fall/Winter 2010 “People of Park Circle”.
• The Rev. Julius C. Hope Award, 14th National Religious Leaders Summit, 2012
Rev. Rivers is guided by the words of Jesus the Christ found in the Gospel of Mark 10:43: “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.” He is honored to serve as a servant of the people of God!