Joe Phelps has been Pastor of Louisville’s Highland Baptist Church since March 1997. Over the past 15 years Highland has become more committed to sharing its progressive view of the Christian message, to mission action and to work for for social justice in the community and beyond.
Joe Phelps has been Pastor of Louisville’s Highland Baptist Church since March 1997. During his tenure Highland Baptist has focused on boldly sharing its progressive view of the Christian message, to mission action and to work for for justice in the community and beyond.
Joe is co-chair of EmpowerWest, a black and white church collaboration committed to recognizing and addressing white privilege, as well as working to empower West Louisville businesses to build capital in a part of the city that has struggled for lack of resources.
Phelps also serves as the Partnership Pastor of Highland’s “partner congregation,” Ridgewood Baptist Church in Southwest Louisville, a congregation supported and renewed through a collaboration with Highland.
Phelps is an occasional guest columnist in The Courier-Journal.
He was the founder of No Murders Metro, an inter-denominational, inter-racial group that held prayer vigils at murder sites throughout Louisville for a number of years.
In 2006, Phelps appeared in a national television ad campaign for “Wake Up Wal-Mart,” which pointed out the company’s record on child labor issues, gender discrimination, and poor health care plans. The ad drew national attention, which resulted in Phelps appearing on CNN Headline News, twice on FOX News (Your World with Neil Cavuto), on radio shows around the country, and to be referred to as a “wacko” by Rush Limbaugh.
Phelps is the author of More Light, Less Heat: How Dialogue Can Transform Conflict into Growth, published by Jossey-Bass in 1998. He continues to lead workshops and conferences on this topic, which he considers a key issue in our world today.
Prior to coming to Highland, Phelps was the founding pastor of Church of the Savior, an American Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, where he served for twelve years.
Phelps completed his Doctor of Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Phelps was Associate Pastor at Austin’s Highland Park Baptist Church from 1979 to 1985. He was founding president of the Capital Area Food Bank– a new concept at the time – which was a collaborative effort of private and government organizations.
Joe is married to Terri. They are the proud parents of daughter Kara, who lives in Jacksonville Beach with her husband, Luch, and Joe’s grandchildren Max and Kathryn; daughter Carly, a law student at the University of Louisville; and son Steven, a recent graduate from Western Kentucky University.