The Dixon Pentecostal Research Center recently presented the Spirit of Azusa Award to Dr. Paul L. Walker. The award presentation and a reception honoring Dr. and Mrs. Walker followed the 12th Annual Azusa Lecture on November 24 at the North Cleveland Church of God Dixon Chapel.
Walker is pastor emeritus of the prestigious Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta, Georgia. He and his wife, Carmelita, served that congregation from 1960 to 1997. During that time the congregation moved from Hemphill Avenue to Mount Paran Road, grew to more than 10,000 members, and established other congregations in the Atlanta area.
Walker began his ministry in 1950 and has served the Church of God in numerous offices including State Sunday School and Youth Director of California and Tennessee, Director of Local Church Development, Chancellor of Education, Secretary General, Assistant General Overseer, and General Overseer. He also served on the Church of God International Executive Council for 20 years and the Lee University Board of Directors for ten years.
Walker attended Lee College, Presbyterian College, Emory University, and Georgia State University, where he earned the Ph.D. A respected administrator, preacher, and pastor, he is the author of numerous books including How to Keep Your Joy, The Ministry of Worship, Counseling Youth, The Ministry of Church and Pastor, and Courage for Crisis Living.
In presenting the Spirit of Azusa Award on behalf of the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, Dr. David Roebuck noted, “The accomplishments of Dr. and Mrs. Walker can be seen best in the lives they have lived and in the countless number of people they have touched in their ministries over the years.”
According to Roebuck, “When we established the Azusa Lecture, we recognized that this is an opportunity to honor those who embody the ongoing work God did during the great revival at the Azusa Street Mission. There are many characteristics of that revival we could highlight including an emphasis on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, an openness to racial and ethnic diversity, a commitment to raising up ministers of the gospel, and a sense of global mission and evangelism.”
Roebuck noted that 2017 is an especially appropriate year to honor the Walkers. The Mount Paran Church of God celebrated 100 years of ministry in August. Among the reasons for their growth was the openness to what God was doing outside of denominational walls. The 1960s saw turmoil and confusion that manifested itself in a drug and hippie movement. At the same time there was spiritual renewal with the birth of the Charismatic movement. The Protestant Charismatic movement in the United States began in 1960 among Episcopalians and rapidly spread to other denominations, and the Roman Catholic Charismatic movement began 50 years ago in 1967. With Dr. Walker setting the example, the Mount Paran Church welcomed hippies and anyone else looking for salvation and deliverance. Roebuck observed, “When many Pentecostals were reluctant to recognize what God was doing in these movements, Paul Walker and the Mount Paran Church opened their hearts and arms.”
Having served the local church with distinction, the Church of God elected Paul Walker to the office of general overseer in 1996, during a critical time in the denomination’s history. During his tenure as general overseer, Dr. Walker’s tremendous support for education led to the creation of the office of chancellor, and he was the first to serve in that position.
Prior to honoring the Walkers, Dr. Louis F. Morgan presented “Fanning the Flame: Reflections on a Century of Church of God Education” as the 2017 Azusa Lecture. In November 1917, General Overseer A.J. Tomlinson called upon the Church of God General Assembly to establish a school for ministerial training. The Assembly responded positively, and today the Church of God has more than 236 Bible colleges, universities, and seminaries around the world. Among its educational ministries are the Pentecostal Theological Seminary established in 1975 and the School of Ministry, which provides ministerial development for Church of God ministers and lay leaders.
Along with the Dixon Pentecostal Research Center, sponsors of the 2017 Azusa Lecture included the Church of God Division of Education (Dr. David Ramirez, Divisional Director; and Dr. Michael L. Baker, Chancellor of Education), Lee University School of Religion (Dr. Terry L. Cross, Dean), Mount Paran Church of God (Dr. David Cooper, Pastor), Mount Paran North Church of God (Dr. Kirk Walters, Senior Pastor), North Cleveland Church of God (Dr. Mark L. Williams, Lead Pastor), North Georgia Church of God (Thomas A. Madden, Administrative Assistant), and Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Dr. Michael L. Baker, President).