Billy Joe Pierce subject of annual celebrity roast
Reverend Billy Joe Pierce’s 60 years in the ministry was the ammunition for the Benton Rotary Club’s celebrity roast Saturday night.
The annual event is a public presentation of not only praise and tributes to the roastee, but a chance to throw in some comedic insults in good natured fun. Pierce, Pastor Emeritus at Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, served as pastor and interim pastor at several Bossier Parish churches and as Chaplain of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office as well as around Louisiana and his home state, Mississippi, during his six decade career.
Event emcee Wayne Gates, CDG Rotary District 6190, said Pierce, 78, is a man of character and commitment, which made it a little more challenging to come up with insults.
“He has made a difference in a lot of people’s lives. It’s hard to roast a guy like that,” Gates said.
However, the Rotary Club was able to find five roasters to take on the task. The list included Michael Boggs of Boggs & Poole; Cecil Wynn, Director of Education at Cypress Baptist Church; Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington; Rev. Billy Crosby, Pastor Emeritus at Summer Grove Baptist Church; and Tommie Pierce, his wife.
Michael Boggs was first to the podium and said although Pierce is older, he still likes to keep up with the times.
“He still writes his sermons down on a pad – a legal pad, not an iPad,” Boggs said.
Cecil Wynn brought one of those yellow legal pads with him and told Pierce, “I’ve got this stack of yellow paper and you’re gonna sit through it.”
Then it was Sheriff Whittington’s turn, who Pierce roasted last year at the same Rotary Club event. Whittington jokingly went through a list of “overlooked charges” against Pierce, which included his forgetfulness.
He then pulled out a roll of tape, which he said Pierce often uses to write names on during ceremonial events. Boggs knows from experience how true that is, sharing a story from May 1993 when Pierce baptized him.
“He slapped a piece of tape on my shoulder with my name on it so he wouldn’t forget it,” Boggs said.
With each speaker, the crowd learned more and more about who the pastor really was. Then his wife, Tommie, stepped up to the podium.
“I have been waiting 56 and a half years for this opportunity,” she said. “I have the information you’ve been waiting for.”
Tommie spoke about their years together, from the first time they met at Clark College to her life as the not-so-typical preacher’s wife. Finally, Rev. Pierce had his chance to get back at his roasters.
“I thoroughly enjoyed being part of this roast,” Pierce said. “The sad part about it is most of it is true.”
Despite the jokes, Whittington said there’s no one more respected in the community than Rev. Billy Joe Pierce.
“A lot of people have great respect for Brother Pierce and I’m one of them,” he said.
The roast is an annual fundraising event for the Benton Rotary Club. All of the money made Saturday night will go toward service projects in the Benton community.