Nashville’s Joseph Walker To Lead Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship Starting in 2015

Now that we know Bishop Joseph Walker will be the next International Presiding Bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, what should the Fellowship’s parishioners do between now and 2015?

LOUISVILLE–  The suspense has been high all week here in Kentucky’s largest city as those of us attending the 20th Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International Conference were anticipating the big announcement of our NEXT LEADER.


Tonight International Presiding Bishop Paul S. Morton announced that Bishop Joseph Walker, III, senior pastor of Nashville’s Mt. Zion Baptist Church, will be the one to succeed him when he steps down at the 2015 conference in New Orleans, La.

“I’m so grateful for the confidence Bishop Morton and the Bishop’s Council has shown in choosing me as the next Presiding Bishop,” Walker wrote in a news release, transmitted minutes after tonight’s announcement.

Brings Experience

In making the announcement, Bishop Morton made reference to the challenge Bishop Walker faced when he joined the Fellowship and left the National Baptist Convention, USA.   It’s  a subtle reference to the history that haunts the Full Gospel MOVEMENT that still is controversial in some circles of religious leaders.

Having dealt with this “controversy” firsthand in affiliating with the Full Gospel Fellowship,  Bishop Walker will bring that experience with him.

I’m sure I’m not only non-clergyman,  lay attendee/delegate here who correctly “guessed” that Bishop Walker would get the nod.    Yeh, I kind of thought “I knew it” when his name was called.

The 45-year-old native of Shreveport, La.’s long list of accomplishments are detailed in the news release.

Brings A Testimony

He’s a young, strong, leader whose work at Mt. Zion has been documented in the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.

You can see all that’s been written about him come alive by visiting Mt. Zion. I’ve had the pleasure of attending Sunday worship at Mt. Zion on two separate occasions.  It’s always a highlight of my visit to the Nashville area on a Sunday.

In his personal life, Bishop Walker has been tested.   In addition to losing his home in a fire,  he lost his wife, Diane to cancer a few years, a story he shares in his book, Life Between Sundays.

His much-publicized wedding to  Neonatologist Stephaine Hale is an inspiration to people like me that you can find love in your 40s.

But, Bishop and our soon-to-be first lady of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship have shown how two highly-educated professionals can co-labor in ministry, even though they have very full, successful lives.     Their new book, Becoming a Couple of Destiny, is on my summer reading list as I prepare for my next step.

What’s NEXT for Full Gospel ?

Now that we, in the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship,  know who our next international leader will be,  what can we as the lay persons (A.K.A. the pew Christians) do between now and 2015?

1.  Watch as the smooth transition begins

As part of tonight’s big announcement, our Third Presiding Bishop Clarence McClendon made reference to his role as assisting with the transition.  I believe that transition has to involve not only the leaders of the Fellowship, but the parishioners who will need to connect with the vision as we continue to do what God has called us to do in our local churches.

Pastoral or leadership changes happen all the time in our local churches.  But, those who have been in the Fellowship have never had a transition from one international presiding bishop to another.  So, there will likely be bumps in the road.   Still, it’s an opportunity for lay persons to watch and learn how this transition transpires.

2.  Pray fervently for Bishop Walker and those he’ll identify to work with him

This is a no-brainer.  We always pray for our leaders, secular and within the Body of Christ.  But,  Bishop Walker as our international presiding bishop-designate will need extra prayers as he adjusts to this new role and continues to do what God has for him to do in Nashville.

3. Continue to Give

As the Full Gospel Fellowship begins its NEXT 20 years tonight, we as Covenant Partners must continue to sow into the international ministry that is Full Gospel.  That starts with our sacrificial contribution over and above what we are expected to do in our local churches.

4.  Focus Less on Personalities

When leadership changes happen, there is a tendency to look to see who will be jockeying for position in the “new administration.”   Our International Presiding Bishop Paul Morton made it clear that this announcement was not about him, but about what God is doing with Full Gospel.  That means who will be appointed to this or that is probably not as  important as what we do as parishioners to fulfill the role/assignment to which we individually have anointed and appointed.

5. Get Excited About the Future

In the next two years, I believe it will be an exciting time for the Fellowship corporately.  But, individually, those of us in the Fellowship probably should remember what Empowerment Temple’s  Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant reminded us of in his address tonight, “We Can’t Stay This Size.”

Individually we have to grow into what God has for each of us.   When Bishop Walker takes the mantle in New Orleans two years from now, we should be able to see significant growth individually.   And, as a result, our churches should be different places because of us walking in our destiny.

Congratulations Bishop Walker!
We’re excited about the FUTURE of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship!

36 Hours That Changed My Life

In just 36 hours, the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International Conference changed my outlet on what I do and why I do it. As I leave Georgia’s state capital, I needed to document what happened here that has implications for what I do in media and what I do in ministry.

ATLANTA– The title of this post may seem a little like a cliche. I’m sure there are several books that have been written about “36-hour experiences”

But, as I leave Georgia’s state capital, I needed to document what happened here that has implications for what I do in media and what I do in ministry.

It’s the day AFTER the 17th Annual Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International Conference, a travel day for thousands who have come here for three or more days this week to improve their ministries both individually and corporately, to get a sense of the vision of the Fellowship on a global basis and to worship together on multiple occasions.

As schedules would have it, this year’s conference conflicted with my summer school teaching schedule. So I was unable to arrive until late Thursday evening.

Twitter Started It All

After grabbing a very late dinner, disappointed that I missed the Thursday evening service, I proceeded to get reviews on the event by logging on Twitter and searching for the “#FGBCF” that we used at the 2009 conference.

Only 2 or 3 posts came up. But, when I searched for “Full Gospel,” I saw a dozen or so people had sent tweets from the conference.

I knew I was in the right place and was going to get something meaningful from this conference.

Keep in mind, I had been dubious about attending this conference all week. It was a hassle to pick up and go just after starting a new academic term. I was tired. I have a million things to do back at home. But, I had made my reservations and registered with hopes of attending. So, something just told me to show up.

A Divine Encounter Orchestrated by My Bishop

The Friday morning breakout sessions, part of Full Gospel’s School of Ministry are always a highlight for me. My senior pastor. Bishop Earnest Palmer, was teaching a three-day class for those publishing books.

I want to one day publish a book. So I decided to sit in.

Instead of being a fly on the wall, I quickly realized there was a connection to another conference where I had been a presenter and was met with those interested in learning more about social media, a topic about which I am passionate.

Bishop Palmer introduced me and  ended up mentioning our new Facebook group, Southern Christian Writers.

Now as I go back to Tuscaloosa, I have a new group of friends in ministry who are writing and want to participate in this community of Christian writers that we are building online.

I am SO excited about how my pastor orchestrated just by a mere introduction so many relationships that will only advance the Kingdom and help me to see how my talents and skills can be directly used for ministry.

Empowerment via a lunchtime launch by Dr. Bryant

I mentioned to someone at the 9 a.m. session for authors that I had heard that Dr. Jamal Bryant from Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple was going to speaking.

Actually Bryant sent a tweet about it on Twitter.

But, I didn’t see him in the main program. I found his presentation spot via a sign in the lobby of the Georgia World Congress Center.

Well the rest is history– He spoke on the subject of “60 Minutes” and he encouraged the young adults gathered for this culminating address to let God use them to intercede for someone else who has a need in 60 Minutes while also expecting God to speak to us about situations in our own lives in 60 Minutes.

His message was based on the story of the Gentile Woman whose demon-possessed daughter was healed by Jesus because the woman’s faith. The details are found in the Gospel of Matthew 15:21-28.

Dr. Bryant reminded us that the woman not only called Jesus like she knew him to be, but recognized his messianic leadership.

I was empowered not only by Dr. Bryant’s message of expectation of God to do things for my loved ones, but for me in 60 minutes, but also started to read his new book, World War Me: How to Win the War I Lost.

Yes, picking up ministry materials is another advantage of being in this marketplace for ministry called the Full Gospel Baptist Church International Conference. This wasn’t about the $10 book, it was about the tenfold blessing that can come from reading and applying it to my life.

Dr. Bryant was the mid-day or lunchtime speaker and I had only been here 12 hours..  But, there was more to come.

Hilliard seals the deal

My dad is a big fan of Bishop I.V. Hilliard. He watches Bishop Hilliard’s ministry on TV. I had never watched him. I saw a cover story in the latest issue of Gospel Today magazine.

I thought, perhaps, that was timed to coincide with Bishop Hilliard’s address to the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International Conference.

His message “Five Spiritual Revelations for Next Level Living” introduced me to principles from the Bible I didn’t really completely understand.

We talked about “going to the next level” in God and in ministry. This morning, the day after I know what that mean.

“Your life could be changed today,” Hilliard said.

Well mine was changed. Even before giving the five revelations, Dr. Hilliard explained that as Christians, we need FOUR (4) things in our faith walk:

  • Revelation
  • A Role Model
  • A Regiment of Faith or Systematic Way of Action
  • Righteous Resolve

I came away with lots of notes from this Biblically-rich teaching-oriented message.  I also left this service at 11 p.m. last night knowing God’s power at work in 24 hours.

Now this morning that 36th hour is coming up and I’m about to check out of my hotel and make the 3-hour trek back to Tuscaloosa.

I can look back and see the difference already made in my life and ministry work as it relates specifically to what I do and offer in social media, but also have some specific steps to take in putting my faith into action.

The change has only just begun.