There is no doubt that preacher’s kids are everywhere on FAMU’s campus. Darien Bolden, Jr. is one of those kids.
Born in Jacksonville, he is the son of Renee’ and Darien Bolden, Sr. who lead First Missionary Baptist Church in Fernandina Beach as pastor and first lady. Bolden grew up heavily active in his church. He was known for his unmistakable voice in the choir and attending church conferences alongside his father.
“Growing up, people expect the child to have the calling like their parents so I just stayed in the choir but I knew God wanted me to do more,” he said. “I felt that calling was deeper than singing in the choir.”
In the fall of 2016, Bolden came to FAMU to pursue a major in music education. In his first semester on campus, Bolden began attending New Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church under the leadership of the Rev. Anton Elwood, who serves as pastor. One Sunday, Elwood preached about how your conduct determines your calling. Bolden knew that the sermon was for him.
“He told me he went home to Jacksonville and told his father that he’s been to minister and his dad just smiled,” minister Theo Nelson said.
Bolden gave his first service at his father’s church on Nov. 26, 2017 and received his license from his father. Bolden’s first sermon was about “victory in the valley.”
“I remember looking at dad after I finished preaching and he was all smiles,” Bolden said.
He felt as though a weight was lifted off his shoulders and he was finally where he needed to be. Just two weeks after his first message, Bolden was diagnosed with Large B cell Lymphoma cancer and had to take a break from school. With much prayer and faith, one year later, Bolden beat cancer and returned to The Hill to continue to walk in the path of his purpose in fall 2018.
“Darien is one of the strongest and most influential people I know on this campus, and he acts as if it didn’t happen. So many people would have given up, but he had so much faith in God and he beat it. It’s amazing,” Taylar Hall, a FAMU student said.
Now ending his sophomore year, Bolden continues to serve in the FAMU Gospel Choir as a lead singer and serves at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and his home church during breaks . After graduation, he plans to attend seminary school to get a deeper understanding of the Bible and further himself in his ministry.
“I try my best to live the way I should and with the calling that I have I know there are some things I cannot do anymore. I still have my fun and have my college experience as well,” Bolden said.