Rev. Dr. Claude Walker, a native of Henry County Virginia was one of eight children born to Charles and Mary Walker on January 13, 1934. He received his early education in the Henry County, Virginia and Roanoke, Virginia.
At an n early age God had a divine plan for Dr. Claude Walker’s life. This led to his journey with Christ, where he was committed to study God’s word. With steps ordered by God, he attended Jarvis Christian College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion in 1956.
In 1955, he was ordained as a minister at Jarvis Christian College. He later received a Masters and Doctorate Degree from Lexington Theological Seminary and Brite Divinity School at TCU respectively. He was the first African American to receive a Master’s Degree from Lexington Theological Seminary and also the first African American to receive a Doctorate of Divinity Degree from Brite Divinity at TCU.
In 1959, Dr. Walker began his professional career as Program Director for Mt. Beulah Community Center in Edwards, Mississippi, and a Community Outreach Program for the Edwards Area. He also served as Area minister for Black Disciples Churches in Mississippi. He service as Senior Pastor of Disciples of Christ Congregation in Nashville, Tennessee; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas, Texas, and Longview, Texas. He also served as Executive Director of Goldsboro Christian Institute, a Program of Clergy/Lay Training in North Carolina; and Right Alternatives for People a Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Program in Dallas, Texas. He has served 60 years as an Ordained Minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Dr. Walker has served on various Committees and Boards in Regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where he resided including the Southwest Region Committee on Ministry. He has been a member of the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and its General Assembly Planning Committee, Trustee of the Disciples Historical Society, Lexington Theological Seminary and the National Convocation of the Christian Church, serving as its President from 1972-1974. He was actively involved in the merger of the National Christian Missionary Convention (DOC). He was the first Vice-President of the National Christian Missionary Convention (NCMC) when the merger was approved. He has been active in ecumenical and social/civic affairs on the local and regional levels, including serving as President of NAACP Chapter and Vice-President SCLC Chapter in Nashville, Tennessee. While in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Walker participated in the Sit-In Movement. He was arrested for the demonstration in a local cafeteria and was booked but no jail time!
In 1968, he began his twenty years of employment at Jarvis Christian College as College Minister, Instructor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy. In 1978, after earning his Doctorate Degree, he returned to his former position with the title of Professor of Religion. He later served as Director of Development. He developed and secured funds to establish the Leadership Development School and the Emmitt J. Dickson Institute at Jarvis Christian College. The two programs provide alternative Education to a Seminary Degree for persons seeking License and / or Ordination through Texas Christian Missionary Fellowship and the Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Dr. Walker was a life member of the JCC/SCI National Alumni Association, the Presidents Club, the 2004 Pioneer Hall of Fame class and 2005 Heritage Award recipient. In July 2014, Dr. Walker was presented the E.W. Henry and R.H. Paige Memorial Awards during the 133rd Assembly of the Texas Christian Missionary Fellowship of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Southwest Region.
As interim pas, Dr. Walker provided nourishment to Disciples of Christ congregations in Texas, Ohio, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.
Dr. Walker’s loyal and faithful service to God, to the Christian Church, to his family and mankind had enabled him to stand boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and being a drum major for justice. So he achieved many distinguished honors and positions. In addition to the numerous awards previously listed, Dr. Walker served eleven years as a trustee for Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, and was named honorary trustee on October 31, 2015. He also served on the Committee on Ministry for the North Texas Area of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ in the Southwest for several years.
Dr. Walker left us with a challenge to “move forward with our lamps trimmed and burning”. Dr. Walker was preceded in death by his parents Charles and Mary Walker; and his siblings, John Walker and Pauline Walker.
His legacy will continue because he leaves to cherish his memories a loving and devoted wife, Sherley Collier Walker, along with his six children Obie Jarmon (Fredia), Tennessee, Sharon Jarmon, Lake Charles, LA, Claudia Walker, Tyler, TX, Kecia Collier, Kim Collier Mach (Joseph), and Kurt Collier; two sisters, Shirley Bethel (Bill), Roanoke, VA, Bernice Dean (James, Richmond, VA, Three brothers; Charles Walker, Roanoke, VA, Dwight Walker, Virgin Island and Cornell Walker (Renee), Roanoke, VA; mother-n-law, Mildred Colbert, Dallas, TX, 15 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews other relatives and friends.