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New Orleans Seminary adds experts in 3 disciplines


NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Experts in leadership, pastoral care and student ministry have joined the faculty of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Steven Franklin Echols, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pleasant Grove, Ala., was elected as associate professor of leadership and director of professional doctoral programs during the trustee executive board’s December meeting.

President Chuck Kelley also has announced the appointments of Jeffrey J. Williams, a pastor in Saline, Mich., as assistant professor of pastoral ministry in the College of Undergraduate Studies, and Tate Cockrell, former director of ministries for the Fort Worth-based Dawson McAllister Association, as the seminary’s director of student enlistment. All three began service at the seminary Jan. 1.

Echols has served as pastor of churches in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, including his current position at First Baptist in Pleasant Grove where he has led the congregation to several Sunday school growth awards since 1993. He also served at Bethel Baptist Church, Moody, Ala., from 1988-93; Zoar Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, La., from 1986-88; First Baptist Church, Kentwood, La., from 1983-86; and Thompson Baptist Church, Smithdale, Miss., from 1981-83.

In addition to contributing articles for the Holman Bible Dictionary and Church Administration magazine, Echols has served in various leadership roles, including the Louisiana Baptist Convention executive board as well as numerous positions in associational work. He has served as member of the board of trustees, member of executive committee and chairman of the missions and ministries committee for the Baptist Health System associated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention since 1994.

Echols has served as an adjunct professor at NOBTS’ Birmingham extension center since 1991, in Samford University’s department of religion from 1992-97 and at Samford’s Beeson Divinity School since 1997. He also served as a field supervisor for the doctor of ministry program at Beeson from 1994-96.

“Dr. Echols brings a fabulous wealth of pastoral experience and outstanding training in leadership to the task of equipping pastors in our doctor of ministry program,” Kelley said.

Echols earned his bachelor of arts degree in religion from Mercer University’s Atlanta campus in 1976 and both his master of divinity in biblical studies and doctor of theology in preaching from New Orleans Seminary in 1979 and 1983, respectively. He currently is completing his doctor of ministry degree in administration and leadership from Beeson and has completed additional courses toward a master of arts degree in public and private management from Birmingham Southern College.

He and his wife, the former Julie Marie Stipe, have two children, Jeremy Franklin and Joy Marie.

Williams, who serves as senior pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church, Saline, Mich., has extensive training in clinical pastoral education, spending more than 20 hours a week each year in direct patient/family care and counseling when serving in the capacities of counseling ministry director and assistant chaplain.

Williams served as clinic director and therapist for New Life Clinics, formerly known as Minirth-Meier Clinics, the world’s largest provider of Christian mental health services, in a branch that he founded in Saline at Fellowship Baptist Church, where he has been pastor since 1997.

Previously, he established and managed a local church-based pastoral counseling ministry at Ovilla Road Baptist Church, Red Oak, Texas, where he also served as associate pastor, from 1992-97. There, he served as director and as primary counselor, where he amassed more than 3,250 clinical hours. He also served as assistant chaplain for the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas from 1991-93.

Williams has served in pastoral positions in Texas and Michigan and as an adjunct professor at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Dr. Jeff Williams will bring to the College of Undergraduate Studies a unique combination of counseling and pastoral ministry,” said Thomas Strong, dean of the college. “He is going to be one of the key faculty members in helping our students to minister effectively from the pastoral perspective to their congregations.”

Kelley added, “Ministry is a ‘people business’ in so many ways. Dr. Williams brings to our undergraduate program a great passion to help students learn how to work with people and use healthy relationships to grow healthy churches.”

In addition to earning a graduate certification in clinical pastoral education from Dallas University Medical Center, where he attended an intensive CPE program from 1990-91, Williams earned his bachelor of individualized studies with concentrations in psychology, communication and religion from Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Mich., in May 1983. He earned both the master of divinity degree with biblical languages and doctor of philosophy degree in pastoral ministry-pastoral care and counseling from Southwestern Seminary in 1987 and 1996, respectively.

He and his wife, the former Karen Marie Irish, have three children, Christopher Jeffrey, Jonathan Daniel and Mikayla Grace.

Tate Cockrell, a native of Laurel, Miss., was appointed as the seminary’s director of student enlistment and it is anticipated he also will be teaching in the area of psychology and counseling.

“Cockrell has an infectious joy about life and ministry. We could not have found a better representative to tell the New Orleans story to prospective students,” Kelley said.

Cockrell recently supervised four major ministry divisions in the Dawson McAllister Association, a national youth ministry reaching 500,000 teenagers each week: the National HopeLine (1-800-394-HOPE), a teen call center where more than 20,000 calls are received every month from young people age 21 and younger; a national live radio call-in show, “Dawson McAllister Live,” syndicated on 250 radio stations nationwide, where he served as co-host; organizing youth conferences featuring Dawson McAllister; and overseeing the publications of the association.

He served as minister of youth at First Baptist Church, Maypearl, Texas, from 1994-97; pastor of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church, Bay Springs, Miss., 1993-94; and as minister of youth and children at Corinth Baptist Church, Heidelberg, Miss., from 1991-93. He has published articles in Living with Teenagers magazine and AACC Soul Care Bible.

Cockrell earned his bachelor of science degree in psychology from William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Miss., in 1994 and master of arts degrees in marriage and family counseling and in religious education from Southwestern Seminary in 1997. He anticipates receiving his doctor of philosophy degree in psychology and counseling from Southwestern in December 2001.

He and his wife, the former Wendy Michelle Posey, have one child, Tatum Savannah.
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    About the Author

  • Shannon Baker
    Shannon Baker is director of communications for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey and editor of the Network’s weekly newsletter, BRN United. Read All by Shannon Baker ›