Joe Phelps is the new justice coordinator for Earth and Spirit Center and co-chair of Empower West, a Louisville, Kentucky, black-white clergy coalition. He served previously as pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville.

  1. Where did you grow up?

In the Midwest – Joplin, Missouri, as a child and then Dayton, Ohio, as a youth.

  1. What is your favorite verse, book or story in the Bible? Why?

I love Jesus’ “Let the children come to me and don’t prevent them, for of such is God’s Realm” (Matthew 19:14; Luke 18:16).

That line grabs my heart with its nonjudgmental compassion and inclusion.

  1. What is your favorite movie? Why?

“The Big Lebowski.”

It is endlessly quotable, adaptable, entertaining, has both a Jesus and a Christ-figure, and, best of all, it quickly runs off prudes who are offended by a movie’s language.

  1. Who are three people you admire?

Walter Brueggemann; Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Baptist and president of Simmons College; and Joey, a young man in jail for four years who has endured more than is imaginable.

  1. What is one little-known fact about yourself?

I began my public speaking career as a junior hire working at Putt-Putt, where I got to make the announcements over the P.A. system about a free game for the next hole-in-one.

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