Bishop Joseph Walker


Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III, D. Min. - Presiding Bishop-elect of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, International

Bishop Joseph Warren Walker III is the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, to Deacon Joseph and Rosa Walker. 

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern University, a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Meharry Medical College and Southern University. Bishop Walker is also a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and the Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity.

He is married to the former Dr. Stephaine Hale, who is an assistant professor of pediatrics and neonatology at Vanderbilt University. Both agree that their most joyous accomplishment to date has been the birth of their daughter, Jovanni Willow Walker, who was born in May 2012.

“Bishop,” as he is fondly called, began his pastorate at Mt. Zion in 1992 with 175 members. Presently, the ministry has grown to over 29,000 members and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate of over 2,000 souls per year. Under Bishop Walker’s leadership, Mt. Zion's ministry has expanded beyond its original location on historic Jefferson Street to seven weekly services in three locations, as well as a worldwide virtual church location (mtzionanywhere.tv), which ministers to millions around the world. In April 2006, his leadership also expanded to Jackson, Tennessee, where the Zion Church became Mt. Zion’s first church plant.

Vowing never to abandon the Jefferson Street area, Bishop Walker launched the New Level Community Development Corporation (NLCDC) in 2001. The NLCDC is committed to low- and moderate-income families and to community economic development. He states that the Mt. Zion ministry will continue “to turn over the stone of economic irresponsibility . . . by investing in programs and by partnering with outside agencies to bring about a change."

His philanthropic efforts shifted to a new level when he and his wife founded the Drs. Joseph & Stephaine Walker Scholarship Fund. Scholarships are made available through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and are given to assist students in achieving their academic dreams. Each year, the fund gives thousands of dollars to deserving students and also awards a scholarship in memory of Bishop Walker’s late wife, Dr. Diane Greer Walker.

A prolific writer, he is the author of nine books; and he and his wife co-authored Becoming A Couple of Destiny. His latest book, Leader Shifts: Mastering Transitions in Leadership & Life, parallels Bishop Walker’s spiritual journey to that of the Old Testament patriarch Joseph.

A recipient of numerous awards and honors, Bishop Walker sits on noteworthy boards, including those of the American Red Cross and Citizens Bank. In 2010, he was recognized in the Nashville Post magazine as one of the city’s most well-educated and influential ministerial leaders. In early 2013, The Root.com named him one of the “20 Top Black Preachers” in the country. Most recently, Ebony magazine recognized him on its “Power 100” list as one of the nation’s most influential African American leaders.

His inspiring messages make him sought after as a university commencement speaker. An authority on “the spiritual connection” in marital relationships, Bishop Walker is a regular guest on the Rickey Smiley Radio Show, as well as a host of other nationally syndicated radio shows that reach millions of people across the United States. He has been a guest on CNN and on CBS Morning News; and he writes “Reset,” a monthly op-ed in the Tennessean.  Never afraid to try new things, he was featured in the world premiere of Redemption Road, a film directed by award-winning director Mario Van Peebles.

Bishop Walker is deeply concerned about America’s youth and young adults and is the visionary behind Mt. Zion's Youth & Children's Ministry. This ministry includes the Judah Generation Youth Choir (with its debut album, Bishop Joseph W. Walker III Presents Judah Generation) and Mt. Zion's Kid-Zone, a youth-centered facility for youth worship, tutorial services, and outreach. He also spearheaded Mt. Zion’s College Ministry, which provides thousands of students with a positive environment for academic resources and spiritual growth.

In 2014, in the wake of the social unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Bishop Walker founded Nashville Unites. This program is rapidly becoming a national model of collaboration in addressing issues that divide communities. Nashville Unites partners with those in the community working toward positive change and provides strategies and real solutions.

Currently, Bishop Walker serves as the International Presiding Bishop-Elect in the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International. In July 2013, he was chosen to succeed International Presiding Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. in 2015.

Throughout his life and ministry, Bishop Walker has demonstrated a caliber of leadership well beyond his years. Recognized as a man from humble beginnings, he is a teacher, humanitarian, philanthropist, businessman, community volunteer, husband, father, and pastor. Bishop Joseph Warren Walker III is an anointed man of God whose voice is calling for national and global leadership that enhances the quality of life for all people.