MEMPHIS – Aug. 8, 2014 – A Doctor of Ministry student at Union University was recently elected president of the second-largest historically African-American convention in the country.
Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr. was elected president of the National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc. in June and will be officially installed to a five-year term on Sept. 18. The convention has about 3.5 million members.
“I am most excited about the opportunities before me to prayerfully make decisions that will affect churches collaborating to do missions, education and evangelism in America and around the world with our current mission partners in Ghana West Africa, Panama, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands and Haiti,” Tolbert said. “There are already discussions about strengthening our work with the current mission partners who operate - because of National Baptist Convention of America’s support - hospitals, schools, seminaries and churches on the mission field in these countries.”
Tolbert has been pastor of the Greater St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church of Lake Charles, La., for 30 years. He is only the church’s second pastor in its 75-year history.
“What I have learned at Union has helped me become a better pastor and leader for the congregation I serve,” Tolbert said. “It certainly has helped me in my new role as President of NBCA.”
Tolbert, who also earned a Master of Divinity from Payne Theological Seminary, said he chose Union for doctoral work after feeling the need to hone his expository preaching skills. Expository preaching focuses on the meaning of a particular scriptural text. The Doctor of Ministry program is designed to help leaders in Christian ministry improve the expository preaching and teaching arms of their ministry. Students meet twice a year for week-long seminars at Union’s Stephen Olford Center in Memphis. To complete the degree, candidates also must research, write and defend a dissertation on a topic related to church ministry.
“I thought of no better place to pursue this degree and highly recommend it to others seeking to improve their expository preaching ability,” Tolbert said.
Tolbert plans to start his dissertation in January 2015 and graduate in May 2016.
“Union has a rich heritage of producing Christian leaders for churches and missionaries who have deployed around the world,” Tolbert said. “The program is really practical with plenty of real-time opportunities to preach and be evaluated and to hear other students.”
Frank Anderson, the Director of the Associate of Divinity program at Union, said Tolbert’s focus on preaching may have led to election as president of the NBCA.
“Tolbert’s role is going to be very much a pastoral role, and it has been our hope for everyone coming through the D.Min. program at Union to understand the importance of expository preaching,” Anderson said.
“I believe his pastoral experience, his commitment to education, and his previous experience within the convention helped qualify him for the role.”
By Julie Turner