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Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters

Founder And Senior Pastor | Joy Tabernacle A.M.E. Church | Dallas, Texas

The Reverend Dr. Michael W. Waters is founder and Senior Pastor of Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in Dallas, one of the newest and fastest-growing A.M.E. churches in the state of Texas. As pastor, professor, author, community leader and social commentator, Waters’ words of hope and empowerment inspire national and international audiences.

Featured in EBONY Magazine among America’s emerging leaders (April 2009), Waters’ keen insights have been engaged upon such esteemed platforms as ABC Nightline, CBS This Morning,  The NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, PBS Newshour, BBC Newsnight, National Public Radio, VICE on HBO, The Washington Post, and The Associated Press. Waters has delivered numerous presentations before church, civic, collegiate, and corporate bodies on topics of interest ranging from Fortune 500 diversity practices and ethical leadership principles to the intersections of religion and hip hop culture. Notable presentations include the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission Diversity Day keynote address, American Airlines’ National Diversity Conference keynote address, the National Prison Summit on Mass Incarceration closing plenary address, the Religion Communicators Council’s Annual Convention plenary address, and the World Association for Christian Communication’s Summer School on Communication Rights evening lecture at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His professional background spans corporate America, party politics, university chaplaincy and undergraduate and graduate level teaching.

Waters matriculated at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science (Pi Sigma Alpha) and in Religious Studies with a minor in History (2002). Elected student body vice president during his sophomore year, he is a recipient of The “M” Award, SMU’s “most highly prized recognition bestowed upon students, faculty, staff and administrators on the SMU Campus.” Waters continued his studies at the Perkins School of Theology at SMU as a recipient of the Prothro Promise for Ministry Full Academic Merit Scholarship. He served as the founding director of two nationally recognized programs: The Macedonian Project, an outreach ministry empowering adolescent males through education, spiritual development, life skills training, and mentoring, lauded as a “national model” for community outreach by the Forum for Theological Exploration in Atlanta, Georgia; and the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage, a traveling study seminar to cities and sites significant to the American Civil Rights Movement featured in the Associated Press article “Traveling classroom uses landmark civil rights sites as teaching tool” (May 2007). The first student elected to two terms as Perkins student body president, Waters earned a Master of Divinity degree, cum laude, with Certificates in African American Church Studies and in Urban Ministry (2006) and a Doctor of Ministry degree

with honors (2012). He now serves as an adjunct professor at Perkins where he was commissioned to create the new course offering Ministry and Popular Culture. He also serves as the North Texas Peer Preaching Group Facilitator in the Center for Preaching Excellence at Perkins and as a member of the Perkins Executive Board.

Named “Best Author” in The Dallas Weekly’s 2014 “Best of Black Dallas” Readership Poll, and featured as the cover story of Epitome Magazine’s 2014 Reading Edition, Waters is the author of the critically-acclaimed book Freestyle: Reflections on Faith, Family, Justice, and Pop Culture (Fresh Air Books/Upper Room Books). Freestyle was selected as an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2014 USA Best Book Awards in two categories - Religion: Christianity and Social Change - and as a recipient of a 2015 Illumination Book Award recognizing “the year’s best new titles written and published with a Christian worldview.” Waters is the author of the forthcoming book Stakes is High: A Young Pastor Speaks on Race in America (Chalice Press). He is also a contributing writer to the award-winning Bible commentary Feasting on the Gospels. A frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, Waters’ offerings have appeared in such respected publications as The African American Pulpit, The African American Lectionary, The A.M.E. Church Review, Becoming Fire: Spiritual Writing from Rising Generations, The Circuit Rider, Media Development, Ministry Matters, Patheos, and Upper Room Disciplines.

Appointed to numerous boards and commissions, Waters is the Dallas City Council appointed chair of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center Board which offers comprehensive social services and cultural and educational opportunities to over 300,000 Dallas citizens annually. He serves as co-chair of Faith Forward Dallas: Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice, an initiative of the Thanks-Giving Square Foundation. Additional service includes Dallas Mayor Michael S. Rawlings’ GrowSouth Advisory Council, the Revitalize South Dallas Coalition, Parkland Hospital’s Faith Health Initiative Steering Committee, and Frost Bank’s Southern Dallas External Advisory Board. Waters is co-founder of the Sankofa Coalition, an organization which seeks to bring racial healing through a recognition of and atonement for past historical injustices. The Coalition is the lead organizer of Dallas’ annual Allen Brooks Remembrance Day for the 1910 lynching victim in Downtown Dallas.


Named “2016 Community Leader of the Year” by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Dallas/ Fort Worth Chapter, “Pastor of the Year” at the Center for Theological Activism’s 2015 Justice Awards, and listed among the Dallas Business Journal’s 2015 “40 Under 40”, Waters is a recipient of the White House’s Presidential Youth Service Award, the Humanitarian of the Year Award of the South Dallas Professional and Business Women's Club, the Harold M. Kaufman Memorial Award in Social Ethics, and the William K. McElvaney Award in Peace and Justice. Recently inducted as a member of Who’s Who in Black Dallas, Waters is also a recipient of SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award presented to “an emerging leader in a particular discipline, organization, or cause that has brought distinction to the University.”


Waters is wonderfully married to Dallas Assistant City Attorney and Community Court Prosecutor, Mrs. Yulise Reaves Waters, Esq. They are the proud parents of three children: Michael Jeremiah, Hope Yulise, and Liberty Grace.

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