Former Church of God General Overseer
Dr. Paul L. Walker
1932 – 2021
Dr. Paul L. Walker, one of the Church of God’s most influential leaders, passed away on February 23, 2021 at the age of 89.
Walker, perhaps best-known for his nearly 40-year leadership as pastor of the Mt. Paran Church of God in Atlanta, was elected to the highest office of general overseer for the Church of God in 1996. In a non-traditional move, Walker’s ministerial colleagues elevated the popular leader to the post straight from the pastorate at the general assembly of 1996. Walker served the full term of four years, from 1996-2000, being re-elected general overseer in 1998.
Born in Minot, North Dakota, Walker was called to the ministry in 1950 and attended Lee College, Presbyterian College, Emory University, and Georgia State University.
He began his ministry with the Church of God serving as State Sunday School and Youth Director of California from 1955-1959, and one year in the same post (1959-1960) at Tennessee.
In 1960 Walker accepted the pastorate of the Hemphill Ave. Church of God in Atlanta, Ga. In the 37 years between his appointment and election as general overseer, Walker led the church to become one of the largest, most prominent and progressive congregations in the Church of God. The name changed to Mount Paran when a new church was built on Mount Paran Road in 1967. The church underwent several building programs, including a large family life center and even a parking garage to accommodate the thousands who attended. In 1997 the church appointed Walker “Pastor Emeritus” where he served in the role until his passing.
Following Walker’s tenure as general overseer, he became Chancellor of Education for the Church of God, serving four years in the role until being re-elected to the International Executive Committee of the Church of God as third assistant general overseer in 2004. He served two years in that role and was elected secretary general in 2006 where he served for two additional years.
Paul Walker was one of the more prolific members of the International Executive Council. First elected in 1978, he was a member of the church governing body for a total of 20 years, including his years on the Executive Committee.
He is the author of eight published books and has received numerous recognitions, both within the Church of God and across the Evangelical spectrum. He has also been recognized for awards in education from his alma maters, and within the Atlanta community.
Paul Walker wed Carmelita in 1952 and they were married for 68 years. They were the parents of two sons. Paul Dana Walker had just been hired in the psychology department at Lee College when he was tragically killed in an auto accident in 1982. His name graces the athletic arena at Lee University. Their second son, Mark, currently serves as president of Lee University.
A memorial service for Dr. Walker was conducted on Friday, February 26, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. at the Mount Paran Central Church. A private graveside service with family preceded the service at Arlington Cemetery in Sandy Springs, Ga.
To read a complete profile on the life of Paul Walker, please scroll to the bottom of this page.
Paul L. Walker Memorial Service
Click on the following video to view the service which took place at the Mount Paran Church of God on Friday, February 26, 2021.
Quotes from Church Leaders
“I learned much from Dr. Walker through his books and sermons originating from his pastorate at Mt. Paran. To be able to sit with him for four years on the Executive Committee is a cherished experience that I shall always remember. His work and ministry as General Overseer of the Church of God was anointed by the Holy Spirit and brought strategic direction to our movement. My thoughts and prayers are with the Walker family as we honor the memory and ministry of this wonderful Champion of the Faith.”
“Dr. Paul L. Walker was on the short list of the most influential leaders in Church of God history. I was profoundly honored to know him, a better person to be mentored by him.”
“A multifaceted man of skills and dedication. One whose life was based on scripture and bathed in joy. A man of God that raised the bar in ministry and whose influence cannot be measured thru generations Truly a Christian gentleman!”
“Dr. Paul L. Walker modeled an inspirational forward style of leadership as a mega church pastor, multi-site church planter, and mentor to ministry leaders across the globe. As the first chancellor of the Division of Education for the Church of God, his passionate desire to expand and enhance education and ministerial training at all levels created the School of Ministry. Truly, his all-embracing ministry was a gift to the church!”
“Paul Walker was a bold and charismatic leader who captivated a generation of leaders in the Church of God. He was highly respected and set the bar for innovative and forward thinking pastoral ministry and general church leadership. His legacy at Mount Paran is unparalleled, where he modeled innovative methods of church growth and revitalization. He was truly a champion who will go down in our history as one of its greatest leaders. His friendship was a cherished possession and I always enjoyed our times of fellowship.”
“So many memories…His humor made us laugh, his songs made us want to sing, his tears touched our very soul and helped us navigate through tough times. His leadership made all of us feel included, and his sermons made us want to love Jesus more. Here’s to Dr. Paul L. Walker, eminent pastor, preacher, teacher, statesman, role model, friend. I will never forget and will always be grateful.”
“Paul Walker was truly a giant of the Christian faith and church. He was creative, innovative, intelligent, and such a good model and mentor to so many. Serving as his first assistant when he was General Overseer gave me an opportunity to see him beyond his public persona. As profound as he was in the public eye, he was equally as admirable in private settings. ”
“Dr. Paul L. Walker, to use a Biblical term, was a true ‘Prince in Israel’ to the Body of Christ. He represented the very best that can be found in the heart of a true pastor. He led as a loving servant, and we are all better because of his leadership.”
“For me and thousands of my generation, there was never anyone like him. He burst into national prominence in the early 1960’s and created a whole new model of leadership in the ministry. No one has ever matched his impact over the next five decades. The sheer magnitude of his gifts set him apart, but he will be remembered even more for his determination to be his own man, while staying consistently loyal to the Church of God. Few individuals can be both a mentor and a friend, but that’s what Paul Walker was to so many of us, throughout a lifetime. “
Today we mourn the loss of our pastor, Dr. Paul Walker who led us for 37 years. He has been my pastor since I was sixteen, and he baptized Barbie when she was 19. He has enriched all our lives. Let us remember Carmelita, Mark and Udella, Don and Jackie and their entire family as we honor them and pray for them. “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
“Dr. Paul L Walker…World Class Pastor, Mentor, Coach, Teacher, Motivator, and Discipler. He was best known as a pastor, but also served as a former state Youth Director who challenged generation after generation to be Christ followers. Certainly he was an icon in the Church of God and in the Kingdom of God. My favorite of his many notable quotes is ‘we will never build bigger churches until we build bigger leaders.’ His life’s work and legacy built leaders that last. The Church of God is a stronger movement and the world is a much better place because he lived.”
“Loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend describe a man of faithfulness and commitment. However, there is another side that passionately loved God and devoted his life to ministry and serving Christ in the Spirit and power of Pentecost. Paul Walker was a renaissance man, someone who excelled in everything he touched. Pastor, scholar, visionary, psychologist, educator, mentor, charismatic, theologian, preacher extraordinaire, and leader of leaders are only a few of the descriptors that characterize the life of Paul Walker. His intense dedication to a personal calling, compassion for people, and zeal for the Church of God will stand as a lasting legacy! Dr. Walker was my friend. He will not be forgotten!”
Paul Laverne Walker – Ministry Profile
Date of Birth: 1/23/32
Place of Birth: Minot ND
Spouse’s Name: Carmelita
Children: Paul, Mark
Grandchildren: Ashtyn, Justin
1951 – Associates A.A., Lee College
1953 – Bachelors B.A., Presbyterian College
1964 – M.Div., Emory University
1970 – Masters M.Ed., Georgia State
1972 – Doctorate Ph.D., Georgia State
1989 – Honorary D.Div., Lee University
Began Ministry: 1950
Date Ordained: 1958
Date Licensed: 1950
Elected General Leadership Positions
General Overseer – 1996-2000
Secretary General – 2006-2008
Third Assistant General Overseer – 2004-06
Executive Council – 1978-82; 1984-88; 1990-94; 1996-00; 2004-08
Appointed General Leadership Positions
Director Local Church Development – 2008
Chancellor, Church of God Division of Education – 2000-2004
State Sunday School and Youth Director, Tennessee – 1959-60
State Sunday School and Youth Director, California- 1955-59
Lee College Board of Directors – 10 years
North Georgia State Council member
Church Activity (committees, boards, etc.)
International speaker: Church Growth International – (Board of Trustees)
Church Growth International – Manila, Philippines – 1989, 1992, 2000
Seoul, Korea – 1989; Elim Fellowship – Manchester, England – 1988, 2001
Church Growth International – Board of Trustees, 1978
Charismatic Bible Ministries
Professional Activity (social or civic)
Member, Christian Association for Psychological Studies
Clinical Member, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Honors and Recognitions
Church of God Theological Seminary, “Leadership Award,” 2002
Mortar Board’s Community Service Award, Georgia State University, 1993
Distinguished Alumnus Award, Georgia State University, 1983-84
Alumni Gold P Award, Presbyterian College
Georgia Trend’s 100 Most Influential People In Georgia
Atlanta Junior Chamber of Commerce
James Bowell Mitchell Award (Outstanding Minister of the 1964 class), Emory University
Five Outstanding Young Men (City of Atlanta) 1964
Understanding the Bible and Science
Knowing the Future
Faith in Action
How to Keep Your Joy
The Ministry of Worship
The Ministry of Church and Pastor
Courage for Crisis Living
Spirit Filled Bible: Holy Spirit Gifts and Power (contributor)