NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Recognized as one of Nashville’s ministerial community’s most educated and influential leaders, Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, the charismatic pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, will be the keynote speaker when more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students receive their degrees during Tennessee State University’s fall commencement on Saturday, Dec. 14.
The commencement begins at 9 a.m. in the Gentry Center on the main TSU campus.
Walker, described as a teacher, humanitarian, philanthropist, businessman and community volunteer, has been the pastor at Mt Zion since 1992. Under his leadership, the church membership has grown from 175 when he started to 28,000. During that time, the church, considered one of the largest in the city, has expanded beyond its original location in the historic Jefferson Street corridor to seven weekly services in three locations, as well as online and through social media outlets.
Currently the Bishop of Senior Pastors in the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, Walker’s leadership at Mt. Zion has also expanded to Jackson, Tenn., where the church has adopted the Zion Church.
A prolific writer, the Baton Rouge, La., native has authored eight books, including his latest, “Becoming A Couple of Destiny: Living, Loving and Creating a Life that Matters,” which he co-wrote with his wife, Dr. Stephanie Walker, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Neonatology at Vanderbilt University.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern University, a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University, and a Doctor of Ministry from Princeton University. Walker is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross, and holds a governor-appointed post on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.
In 2001, he launched the New Level Community Development Corporation, which aims to improve the lives of low-and-moderate-income families. He and his wife are co-founders of the non-profit, Dr. Joseph & Stephanie Walker Foundation, which is geared toward education, mentorship and outreach.
Walker, who says he believes in strong work ethic and staying busy, credits his parents, Rosa and Joseph Walker, and especially his father, Joseph Jr., with instilling in him a strong sense of discipline and business-mindedness.
“My summer days throughout most of my youth were spent working with my father,” Joseph III is quoted as saying in his online biography. “I gained my strong work ethic through that experience.”
Named by The Root as one of the 20 Top Preachers in the nation, Walker has appeared on many national TV and radio networks and programs including CNN and the CBS Morning News. He was featured in the film, Black, White and Blues, directed by award-winning Mario Van Peebles.
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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.