NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, announced the appointment of two Arkansas pastors to the faculty during a trustee executive board meeting Dec. 5.
Kelley appointed Mark Tolbert to serve as associate professor of evangelism and pastoral ministry and as director of the doctor of ministry program. Dennis Phelps was appointed as professor of preaching and director of church relations and alumni. With 33 years of ministry experience each, Phelps and Tolbert fit in New Orleans Seminary’s long tradition of seeking professors with extensive experience in ministry.
“Having two experienced ministers such as Mark Tolbert and Dennis Phelps will further enhance our commitment to equip the next generation of Southern Baptist ministers,” Steve Lemke, the seminary’s provost, said. “Our students will profit from their experience in ministry.”
Tolbert has served as pastor of South Side Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Ark., since 2003. Of his 33 years in ministry, Tolbert spent 24 years pastoring churches. He has also served as a minister of evangelism and a collegiate minister.
“We are delighted and privileged to have Dr. Mark Tolbert join our faculty,” Kelley said. “He is the consummate Southern Baptist pastor.”
After completing a bachelor of science degree from Georgia State University, Tolbert earned a master of divinity and a doctor of ministry degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
With a strong commitment to the work of the convention, Tolbert served as a trustee for the Annuity Board (1994-96) and the Arkansas Baptist Foundation (1995-96). He served one year on the Arkansas Baptist State Convention executive board. Tolbert has also served on the SBC tellers committee, the Arkansas Baptist nominating committee, and numerous association committees.
In 2000, Tolbert taught as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Seminary.
While Tolbert will teach both graduate and professional doctoral level courses, his primary responsibilities will be directing the doctor of ministry program at the seminary. He will serve under the leadership of Reggie Ogea, associate dean for professional doctoral programs.
“[Dr. Tolbert] has very strong people skills and is very strong on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of ministry,” Kelley said. “I think he will be a great addition to our doctor of ministry program in helping pastors learn how to take their ministry to another level of excellence.”
Tolbert and his wife, Joy, have two adult children, Jennifer and Jason.
Phelps most recently served as senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Cabot, Ark., and New Orleans Seminary brought him back to his home state and his alma mater.
“Dr. Dennis Phelps has been an evangelist, he has been a pastor and he’s been a professor for 10 years at another seminary,” Kelley said. “We are excited to have him in the classroom teaching in the area of preaching.”
Phelps earned a bachelor of arts degree in communication arts and public speaking from Louisiana College and a master of divinity from New Orleans Seminary. In 1990, he earned a doctor of philosophy degree in preaching at Southwestern Seminary.
For a decade Phelps served as associate professor of preaching on the faculty at Bethel Theological Seminary, a Baptist General Conference school in St. Paul, Minn. During his days as a doctoral student at Southwestern, he served as a teaching fellow and grader in the preaching department.
Phelps began leading the alumni relations office at New Orleans Dec. 4. His responsibilities in the office include communicating with alumni, working with state alumni chapters to sponsor events and overseeing church-minister relations, which is a student and alumni resume referral service. Phelps is looking for ways to expand the seminary’s partnership with its alumni.
“I am excited that God has brought Dennis Phelps to New Orleans to lead in strengthening and enhancing our alumni relations,” Jerry Garrard, vice president of institutional advancement at the seminary, said. “He will develop strategies to assist alumni in continuing education, ministry placement and remaining connected to their seminary. I do pray alumni will enthusiastically join with him to make a difference now and forever.”
Phelps brings tangible experience to the task of leading alumni relations. For the past year he served as state president of the Arkansas chapter of New Orleans alumni and served as state president of the Kentucky chapter of Southwestern alumni during the 1999-2000 school year.
Phelps and his wife, Robbin, have two children, Kristen, 18, and David, 15.