Paul E. Pierson

Dean Emeritus and Senior Professor of History of Mission and Latin American Studies

BS, University of California at Berkeley
BD, Princeton Theological Seminary
PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary

Areas of Expertise

Evangelical church in Latin America, history of the Christian missionary movement, history of evangelical awakenings, new patterns in mission

“The last 50 or 60 years have seen a radically changed world, and many of the older patterns are no longer relevant or even possible. On the other hand, the church has grown enormously in the former ‘mission fields’ since 1945. The Christian mission remains the same, but our context is very different, . . . [and] that fact calls us to sensitivity to each culture, hard thinking, and openness to the creativity of the Holy Spirit.”


Dr. Pierson, in his book The Dynamics of Christian Mission: History through a Missiological Perspective. Explore more voices from the Fuller community on changing missiology here.


Paul Pierson first came to Fuller in 1980, serving as dean of the School of World Mission (now the School of Intercultural Studies) until 1992. He then served as associate provost from 1992 to 1993 and professor of history of mission and Latin American studies from 1992 to 1997. Throughout his career, Dr. Pierson has been appreciated for his active recruitment and encouragement of international students in the School of Intercultural Studies, and though now partially retired as a senior professor, he continues to teach a few courses each year in the Korean studies program.

Prior to his time at Fuller, Pierson was a missionary to Brazil and Portugal for 17 years. He planted two Presbyterian churches in Brazil and served as professor and president at Presbyterian Seminary of the North in the city of Recife. He also served on faculty at the Evangelical Seminary of Lisbon, and, in all, he has taught and lectured in over 20 countries. Upon returning to the United States, Pierson pastored First Presbyterian Church of Fresno, California, from 1973 to 1980. He has since served as interim pastor for three Los Angeles area churches, including, First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.

Pierson’s publications include Dynamics of Christian Mission: History through a Missiological Perspective (2009), Emerging Streams of Church and Mission (2004), Themes from Acts (1982), and A Younger Church in Search of Maturity: Presbyterianism in Brazil, 1910–1959 (1974); and he coedited The Good News of the Kingdom: Mission Theology for the Third Millennium (1993, with Dean Gilliland and Chuck Van Engen). He teaches Perspectives courses on world mission about 20 times each year and has served on and chaired a number of mission boards. Pierson has received many honors for his lifetime of ministry and teaching, including both an endowed chair and an endowed scholarship in his name at Fuller. Missiological Education for the 21st Century: The Book, the Circle, and the Sandals: Essays in Honor of Paul E. Pierson(edited by J. Dudley Woodberry, Charles Van Engen, and Edgar J. Elliston, 1996) and the Paul Pierson Center for Global Mission at the South American Theological Seminary, Londrina, Brazil, also pay tribute to his service.

Download Dr. Pierson’s CV, which includes a list of his current publications, here.

Featured Publications

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Voices on Changing Missiology