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First African American joins NOBTS’ full-time faculty


NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Kenneth B. Weathersby has been elected associate professor of church planting at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and as such becomes the first African American pastor the seminary has appointed to a full-time faculty position.
Weathersby also will be director of the seminary’s Cecil B. Day Center for Church Planting and direct the Nehemiah Project, a five-year partnership agreement between the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board and NOBTS. NAMB’s Nehemiah Project seeks to bring about a dramatically higher percentage of seminary students graduating to become church planters across the United States.
For NOBTS, the Nehemiah Project will have urban environments set as priority areas for new church starts, reinforcing New Orleans Seminary’s own commitment to establishing healthy urban churches.
Weathersby, who will start teaching at NOBTS in January 1999 when the seminary’s second semester begins, was elected Dec. 8 during the semiannual session of the NOBTS trustee executive committee. In his position with the Nehemiah Project, he also will be a fully appointed missionary with NAMB.
“The appointment of Ken Weathersby to be both a professor and director for New Orleans Seminary’s Nehemiah Project and center for church planting is a strong affirmation of the wide diversity of gifted leadership within the SBC as God continues to bring key leaders into strategic places as part of a continent-wide church-planting movement,” said Richard Harris, NAMB’s vice president for church planting.
Noting that NOBTS has an extensive history and commitment for church planting, Steve Lemke, NOBTS provost, said, “We are delighted to add to our faculty Ken Weathersby’s great expertise in church planting, as we already have at least one experienced church planter in every academic division.
“He has started churches in several major cities and diverse settings, and has mentored both Anglo and African American church starts. We know of no one who brings this unique blend of hands-on, real-life experience to mentor young church planters in urban America,” Lemke said.
David Putman, NAMB’s coordinator for the Nehemiah Project, said Weathersby is “one of our absolutely best church-planting leaders across the board and as such will catalyze our program across North America. Many SBC leaders see Weathersby’s appointment at NOBTS as a home run, as a strategic piece in our overall church-planting strategy.”
Weathersby currently is an evangelism specialist and team leader for evangelism strategies for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, where he has worked since 1993. He also was director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s black church extension and multihousing office for four years.
Before moving to Tennessee, Weathersby was a church planter and pastor in Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio and most recently Louisiana, where he started Douglas Avenue Baptist Church in Baton Rouge and was pastor 1989-93.
Weathersby is the author of two books: “How to Start a Church in an African-American Community,” published by the North American Mission Board, and “Develop a Heart to Help the Poor, Create a Safer World,” published by the Woman’s Missionary Union, Birmingham, Ala.
Weathersby completed the bachelor of arts degree at Mississippi College, Clinton, Miss.; the master of divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.; and the doctor of ministry degree at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Miss., where his dissertation was a study of church-planting strategies in inner-city Memphis, Tenn., and the implementation of Hope Centers in the black multifamily housing community.
Weathersby is married to the former Belva Kennedy of Charleston, S.C., who is a credentialed social worker. The Weathersbys have two school-aged children, Kenyeta and Breon.
“New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is strategically located in an urban center that will provide a wonderful laboratory to test different strategies and models of church planting,” Weathersby said.
“It is my goal to equip church planters to start Holy Spirit- driven churches with a kingdom-perspective that will influence this generation and unborn generations.
“We will work with and through the Baptist state conventions and associations of churches to strategically place our Nehemiah church planters. The Lord is at work in North America and the world, and I am glad to join him in his work. I am thankful to Southern Baptists for allowing me to serve as their missionary.”

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  • Debbie Moore