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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Biography
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Dr. Gregory
Joel Cliff Gregory is Professor of Preaching at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University and was appointed Distinguished Fellow by Georgetown College, Kentucky, in 2004.  He is also the founder and president of Joel Gregory Ministries, a non-profit organization supporting a preaching, teaching, counseling, and writing ministry.
 
Recent Speaking and Leadership Experience
Between September 2006 through August 2007 Joel has spoken 181 times at 28 churches and 34 conferences in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ghana, West Africa.  These speaking venues included 19 states.  Among these speaking engagements, Joel spoke at national conferences, including his tenth year to speak at the E.K. Bailey International Conference on Expository Preaching, Dallas, The Jasper Williams Conference, Atlanta, The Mighty Men of Valor Conference, Valley Forge, PA, and The Children's Defense Fund at the Alex Haley Farm in Tennessee, the National Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, Florida, as well as the Iron Sharpens Iron Conference in Chicago.  In the academy, Joel has spoken at Shaw Univeristy, Raleigh, North Carolina, Georgetown College in Kentucky, Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas and Bethel Seminary in Minneapolis, as well as at the Truett Pastor's Conference.  Regionally, Joel spoke at the Kingdom Growth Conference in Milwaukee, the Empowerment Conference in Seattle, the Baptist General Convention of Texas in Dallas and the Cowboy Church Conference in Banderas, Texas.  He has spoken at the Floral Heights United Methodist Church Endowed Preaching Conference in Wichita Falls, Texas, and the annual Interdenominational Lenten Conference in Beaumont, Texas.
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Truett Theological Seminary

Major highlights of the past year featured Joel's homiletics seminars for ministers in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana, as well as speaking at the Ghana Baptist Seminary.  He was invited by the Ghana Baptist Convention and accompanied by Truett student Vincent Asamoah.

Click here for a Photo Tour of Joel’s Ghana Mission

Georgetown College
Georgetown College
In addition, Joel taught 34 ministers in two seminars at Regents Park College, Oxford University, UK. This has been the third summer he has taught ministers from the United States at Oxford with the Proclaimers Place, sponsored by Georgetown College and Regents Park College.

Click here for a Photo Tour of Joel’s teaching at Oxford

ImageIn addition to these assignments, Rev. Dr. Ralph D. West, Sr., asked Joel to serve as his preaching assistant at the Brookhollow Baptist Church (The Church Without Walls) in Houston. For nine Sundays in June and July 2007, Joel spoke at the 18,000- member church, usually preaching five times on Sunday at its two locations. Dr. West has asked Joel to continue as his “assistant preacher” in the summer to come, as well as on other occasions.

Joel has been invited to be a plenary session speaker at the New Baptist Covenant meeting in Atlanta January 30 to February 1, 2008. This meeting, expected to draw more than 20,000 in attendance, is an effort to bring all Baptists in North America together to make a positive commitment to adopt a new covenant. President Jimmy Carter convened the committee and is overseeing the program.

In addition, Joel has been invited to serve three times as a plenary session speaker at the Hampton Ministers Institute June 3-5, 2008 at Hampton University, historically the largest gathering of preachers at a preaching conference in the United States.

 
Education
Baylor University
Baylor University
In 1970, Joel was graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University with a B.A. in religion and Greek.  He earned the Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1973.  He received a Ph.D. in religion from Baylor in 1983.  He also holds honorary doctorates from Dallas Baptist University and the California Graduate School of Theology.
 
Vocational Experience
At sixteen, Joel acknowledged the call to the Christian vocation at the Connell Baptist Church in Fort Worth, where he was baptized, licensed, and ordained to the ministry.  His first preaching experience was at the rural Bethany Baptist Church in Jack County, Texas, when he was a high school student.

Joel pastored seven Texas Baptist churches from 1968 to 1992.  Five of these pastorates he served while working on his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees.  As a junior and senior at Baylor, he was pastor of the Edgefield Baptist Church of Waco, adjacent to the Baylor campus.  While attending seminary, he was pastor of Acton Baptist Church near Granbury, Texas.  He also served as pastor of Cottonwood Baptist Church of Falls County, Texas, and Emmanuel Baptist Church of Waco as a resident Ph.D. student at Baylor.

Gambrell Street Baptist Church
Gambrell Street Baptist Church
Travis Avenue Baptist Church
Travis Avenue Baptist Church
Following those pastorates, Joel was the pastor of the historic Gambrell Baptist Church in Fort Worth, adjacent to the campus of Southwestern Seminary (1977-1982); Travis Avenue Baptist Church of Fort Worth (1985-1990); and the First Baptist Church of Dallas (1990-1992).  At First Baptist in Dallas, he had received a unanimous call to become pastor Thanksgiving Sunday evening in 1990.  He was the third pastor to serve the church during the twentieth century, following the pastorates of George W. Truett (1897-1944) and W.A. Criswell (1944-1990).


Between his pastorates at Gambrell Street and Travis Avenue, Joel was invited by President Russell H. Dilday and  elected by the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to serve as Assistant Professor of Preaching (1982-1985).  At the conclusion of his professorship, he accepted the pastorate of Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth.  
First Baptist Church of Dallas
First Baptist Church of Dallas
Edgefield Baptist Church
Edgefield Baptist Church
Acton Baptist Church
Acton Baptist Church
Cottonwood Baptist Church
Cottonwood Baptist Church
Emmanuel Baptist Church
Emmanuel Baptist Church
 
Leadership and Authorship
In addition to pastoral ministry, Joel has held a number of leadership positions, including the presidency of the 5,000-plus Baptist General Convention of Texas (1988-1990), to which he was elected twice unanimously. He also served as a trustee of the former Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, acting as chair of its Presidential Search Committee.

Joel has preached at venues worldwide.  He delivered six theme interpretation messages to the 1983 SBC meeting in Pittsburgh.  He preached the historic “The Castle and the Wall” annual convention sermon at the SBC meeting in San Antonio in 1988 -- an appeal for unity at the height of the denominational crisis with 35,000 messengers in attendance.  He has preached at the commencement of Spurgeon’s College, London, as well as supplied the historic pulpit filled by G. Campbell Morgan, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones and R.T. Kendall, respectively, at Westminster Chapel, London, on several occasions.  In 1990, he preached at a plenary session of the Baptist World Alliance at Seoul, South Korea.

Joel served for six years as the designated preacher on 500 radio stations for the Baptist Hour.  For four years he was the preacher on the nationally televised show of the same name. 

He has written five books:  Gregory’s Sermon Synopses, Growing Pains of the Soul, Homesick for God, James: Faith Works and his best-selling memoir, Too Great a Temptation, chronicling his two years at First Baptist, Dallas.  Gregory co-edited two books with the late R. Earl Allen, Southern Baptist Preaching Today and Southern Baptist Preaching Yesterday.  He also collaborated with Dr. Frank Pollard in the publication of The Preaching Pastor.

 
Detailed Biography

Born on April 9, 1948, Joel is a native of Fort Worth and a descendant of several generations of Texans.  His father, the late Clifford Clyde Gregory (1911-1981), was a businessman in Fort Worth and a native of Jacksboro, Texas.  His mother, the late Edith Margaret Gregory (1914-2001), a native of Gainesville, Texas, was a homemaker and also worked in his father's business.  Joel's paternal and maternal grandparents were all devout Baptist Christians descended from Texas pioneer Baptists.  His mother, along with his maternal grandfather, Henry Newton Selby, were converted in the same revival meeting conducted in Gainesville by George W. Truett.

Joel is married to Joanne Michele.  He is the father of two sons, Grant Joel Gregory of Fort Worth, born in 1973 and Garrett Summers Gregory of Fort Worth, born in 1977.  Grant is a graphic designer and video producer and holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.  Garrett is a software designer and holds a B.S. from North Texas State University.  He is the stepfather of Jimmy Kent of Dallas and Linda Kent of Fort Worth.  Joanne Michele is a registered nurse, flutist and accomplished signer for the hearing impaired.  They make their home in Fort Worth and Waco. 

Joel attended Arlington Heights Elementary, Stripling Junior High, and Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, where he was an honor student.  His home church is Connell Baptist Church, Fort Worth, where he was converted, baptized, licensed, and ordained to preach.  Joel surrendered to the gospel ministry in the summer of his sophomore year in high school at age 16.  His parents were both members of that church at the time of their homegoing.

At 17, Joel left Fort Worth in the middle of his senior year of high school to begin undergraduate work at Baylor University in January 1966.  His undergraduate years at Baylor were from 1966 to 1970, and he was graduated summa cum laude with a double major in religion and Greek.  While an undergraduate student, he served as president of the Baylor Ministerial Alliance.  He began his active local church service as the youth minister at the First Baptist Church of Woodway, Texas, in 1968.  Shortly after that, he was called to the pastorate of Edgefield Baptist Church near the Baylor campus, where he served from 1968 to 1970 during his junior and senior years at Baylor.

In the fall of 1970, Joel enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Fort Worth.  He was called to the pastorate of Acton Baptist Church in Granbury, Texas, where he served while in seminary (1970-1973).  As a seminary student, he was the grader for the late Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Dr. Curtis Vaughan. 

In January of 1974, Joel began work on his Ph.D. in religion at Baylor University in Waco.  While studying for that degree, he served as pastor for Cottonwood Baptist Church of Falls County, Texas, and Emmanuel Baptist Church of Waco.  His major professor was the late Dr. Ray Summers, a revered Baptist New Testament scholar.  Joel's dissertation committee was composed of Dr. Summers, Dr. James Leo Garrett, Dr. Jack Flanders, Dr. Glenn Hilburn, and Professor Robert Reid.  After successfully defending his dissertation, The Biblical Hermeneutic of Patristic Chiliasts from Papias of Hierapolis to Justin Martyr, a work examining the patristic chiliasm of the earliest church, he was awarded the Ph.D in 1983.

In 1977 Gambrell Street Baptist Church of Fort Worth called Joel to be the pastor.  When Southwestern Seminary moved to Fort Worth from Baylor, it was called Seminary Hill Baptist Church.  The church's first pastor was Dr. W.T. Connor, the noted theologian from Southwestern's early history, and its membership consisted of local residents, seminary professors, administrators, and students.  The sixth president of Southwestern, Dr. Russell Dilday, joined the church in 1978.  The church experienced growth during Joel's pastorate, engaging in a building program and extending its ministries in home missions by beginning an innovative house-church movement in the community.  Joel resigned from the church in July of 1982 to join the faculty of Southwestern Seminary as the assistant professor of preaching.  He served in that position from 1982 to 1985, teaching homiletics and traveling across the nation as an itinerant preacher and teacher of preaching.

In May of 1985 Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth called Joel to be the pastor.  The largest congregation in Fort Worth, Travis Avenue was organized in 1911.  During Joel's pastorate the church gained thousands of additions to its membership, began a national television and radio ministry, doubled its property holdings, conducted two major capital campaigns and experienced renewal of its ministry.  While serving at Travis, Joel was named the preacher for both the "International Baptist Radio Hour" and "Baptist Television Hour."  The radio program was heard on more than 500 stations, and the television program was seen on ACTS and Family Net.  Joel also served as president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas for two terms unopposed, was appointed to the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and preached the Southern Baptist Convention sermon in San Antonio in 1988.  This sermon, "The Castle and the Wall," was an attempt to heal the breach in the denomination caused by the fundamentalist takeover in 1979. Joel also served each summer as the annual preacher at the Glorieta and Ridgecrest Baptist Assemblies.

On Thanksgiving Sunday in 1990, the First Baptist Church of Dallas unanimously called Joel to be the pastor, following the two pastorates of George W. Truett (1897-1944) and W.A. Criswell (1944-1990).  Criswell became the senior pastor and Joel was the pastor.  Highlights of Joel's two years at the church included attendance of more than 10,000 at Sunday School on Easter in 1991, the beginning of a third contemporary service, and a mission trip with two hundred members of the youth choir and orchestra visiting the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.  Joel resigned on Wednesday, September 30, 1992, after it had become clear that the incumbent did not intend to retire and the intended transition would last for years.  The Executive Committee of the Board of Deacons, consisting of all former deacon chairmen, refused to accept his resignation in an emergency meeting that week.  Joel refused to consider a return to First Baptist, and his tenure there ended.  He wrote a best-selling memoir of this experience, Too Great a Temptation.  This book became the basis of one of the ten most performed plays in America, God's Man in Texas.

Following this experience Joel returned to Fort Worth and took a job as a pre-need funeral salesman for Greenwood/Mt. Olivet, where he was recognized as Rookie of the Year for his achievement in sales in 1993.  After writing Too Great a Temptation, Joel accepted the invitation to join its publishing company, the Summit Group, as an editor.  In 1994 Joel joined with the other principals of the Summit Group to form another publishing company---the Magnolia Media Group.  That firm either launched or purchased ten consumer magazines over the next decade.  Joel acted as publisher of PetLife, as well as Chile Pepper, a magazine devoted to hot and spicy foods, among other projects.  In May of 1999, along with Karl Singer and Jimmy Goldsmith, Joel formed a new company, Avenue Chile Pepper, LLC, to purchase Chile Pepper.  He spent five years with his partners growing the magazine, establishing a major national trade show and a trade contest while enlarging the scope of its projects in television and print.

In 1992 and for the next five years, Joel spoke infrequently at churches and conferences.  In 1997, the late Rev. Dr. E.K. Bailey invited Joel to speak at the "E.K. Bailey International Conference on Expository Preaching" in Dallas, a national conference for ministers.  Out of this preaching venue, Joel's ministry experienced an unexpected renewal with invitations extended to speak at other conferences and churches.  This renewal of ministry reached a level that encouraged Joel and his partners to divest themselves of the publishing company in 2004 and merge Chile Pepper magazine with another publisher.  At that time Joel organized Gregory Ministries, a 501c3 corporation dedicated to ministry.  Karl Singer of Dallas, an investor and a principal in Unity Platform, a Dallas-based business, serves as the chairman. Chandler Peeples of Georgia, the CEO of Container Service Corporation, acts as the vice-chairman.  Rev. Joe Carter, the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church of Newark, New Jersey, serves as the secretary.  Dr. Ralph Douglas West Sr., the senior pastor of Brookhollow Church (The Church Without Walls), Houston, also serves on the board.  Dr. Burton Patterson, attorney and businessman, acts as the advisory board consultant.

E.K. Bailey
E.K. Bailey



In 2004 President Bill Crouch of Georgetown College asked Joel to join the administration as a Distinguished Fellow, a consulting position in alliance with the vision of the college.  Dr. Crouch and Joel have worked on a project to revive the name and legacy of Bishop College, an African-American college formerly located in Dallas that is now closed.  They are actively involved in pursuing this vision, working with Baptist leaders nationally to realize the dream of opening the Bishop Center for African-American Preaching on the campus of Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky.  That project now has substantial support from Bishop alumni, and the groundbreaking for the Bishop Center is expected in the near future.  Gregory also leads a seminar in continuing homiletic education for ministers, Proclaimers Place, meeting at Georgetown, Fort Worth, Oxford University in England, and other locations.

In 2003, Paul Powell, former dean of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, invited Joel to speak at the first pastors' conference of the seminary.  Following that experience, he asked Joel to teach a J-Term as an adjunct teacher.  In addition, he asked Joel to co-author The Preaching Pastor, a book on preaching, with the retiring guest professor of homiletics, Dr. Frank Pollard. Out of those experiences, Powell, along with Dr. David E. Garland, the current dean, invited Joel to join the faculty of George W. Truett Theological Seminary as Professor of Preaching.  Joel was unanimously recommended by the seminary faculty and invited by the Baylor administration to join the Truett Seminary faculty.  He has served Truett as Professor of Preaching beginning in August of 2005.   Since that time Joel has taught in the fall, spring, and summer semesters, as well as in the Doctor of Ministry program and the concentrated J-Terms. 

Today Joel continues a ministry of teaching and preaching internationally.  He acknowledges the providence and leadership of God that has sustained him to this point and anticipates the future with the God who always does a new thing (Isaiah 43:16-20).
 
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