Friday, July 1, 2016

Bishop Walker sets new trajectory for Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship

Bishop Joseph Warren Walker III, the presiding bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, is building on a foundation that his predecessor put in place and consecrated 23 years ago in the city of New Orleans and grew immensely across the globe.
Growth is the operative word and important to Bishop Walker, who talks about setting the fellowship on a new trajectory. He is the second presiding bishop since Bishop Paul S. Morton founded the fellowship in 1994, which has now spread across 40 states with over 300 international churches.
Bishop Josep Warren Walker lll
Each summer thousands attend the Full Gospel Conference. This year they’re meeting in Orlando, Fla., from June 28 to July 1, to hear from their presiding bishop. They will be front and center and taking notes when he unfurls his blueprint for “activism, enfranchisement and accountability.”
“We have some of the same ills that are facing our world. The church has to rebrand itself to be able to address them,” said Bishop Walker, who has served as senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville for 24 years. The mega church has 30,000 members worshipping at three locations in Nashville.
The church has historically been the centerpiece in the African American community. “There’s a lot of social change,” he said. “However, a lot of movements have bypassed the church because they think the church is irrelevant….”
An author and civic leader, Bishop Walker is focused on raising the profile of Full Gospel. He said the church should utilize 21st century technology and social media to galvanize people around social issues that affect the community and impact the lives of people spiritually.
“People need to feel we are attacking these social ills from a spiritual perspective,” said Bishop Walker, adding that “faith, finance, fitness and family” – which he calls the four pillars – will help bring necessary change to the church and increase growth.
Summarizing the four pillars, he said families are deteriorating, people are dying because of poor eating habits, being taken advantage of by predatory lenders and loan sharks, and ravaged as a result of economic depravation.
“We want to help our church grow again and be viable in the community,” said Bishop Walker. “We feel we’re putting our stamp on Full Gospel. This is who we are and what we’re attempting to do.”
Church growth includes drawing young people back into the fold, he said, back to ministry. “Millennials are drawn to our ministry because there is an intentional effort to provide ministry that appeals to their generation.”
Many of the churches struggle to keep Millennials engaged, he said. “We want to build our fellowship that shows our church that this is how you engage Millennials. This is how you keep them excited by pushing the envelope, by coming outside of traditional norms and be willing to take a risk and do things that can really attract without compromising one’s convictions.”
The fellowship is predominantly African American. However, it is open to all churches and ethnicities that want to join the fellowship, said Bishop Walker. “We got Methodists, Pentecostal, Baptist – all kinds of folks joining us now – white folks, black folks, Asian folks, all kinds of folks coming to this conference. We have a multicultural ministry now.”
Bishop Walker said the throng could expect an experience at the conference. “It’s a fellowship for the family. They can go to church, go to class, study, work out, and get tools on how to be better. You can expect an experience like non other.”
Expect comedian Rickey Smiley to bring a barrow-load of jokes to the conference. He’ll be there cracking jokes and making people laugh out loud.

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