|2012 Baccalaureate Speaker Billy Michael Honor|
Reverend Honor was born in the city of Orlando, Florida. At the tender age of fifteen he entered ministry as a part of the ministerial staff of the historic St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church in Orlando. Then at the age of 17 he was licensed and ordained as a minister by his great grandfather Rev. Leroy West. Billy later served as the pastoral assistant of the Peachtree Presbyterian Church, a rapidly growing, global, and multi-faceted congregation in Atlanta. Currently, he is serving as Pastor & Head of Staff of New Life Presbyterian Church in College Park, Georgia, one of the fastest growing African American Presbyterian congregations in the country.
Prior to entering ministry Billy was a sought after poetic expressionist. His passion for public speaking enabled him to recite poetry all across the country at diverse churches, conferences, and conventions as a youth. During this time Billy became a voice of recognition regarding some of religion and society’s most pressing issues. As a result Billy served as Chairman of the National Youth Crime Prevention Conference and was a steering committee member for various National Urban League Youth Conferences across the nation. He also served as the youth spokesperson for the United States Congressional 3rd District of Florida.
Since entering ministry, God has used Billy as an instrument to promote reconciliation and unity across ethnic, denominational, generational, and geographic lines. As a result he serves as a contributing member to the Ecumenical Emerging Scholars network of Christian leaders (a think-thank of some of America’s top young leaders), and he is also the co-founder of the “The Next Gathering,” which is an Atlanta based cohort of emerging religious leaders.
Academically, Minister Honor has obtained a bachelors of arts in Biblical Education (with honors) from Beulah Heights Bible College in Atlanta, Georgia, a Master of Divinity degree from Johnson C. Smith Seminary of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta (where he graduated at top of his seminary class), and has completed an advanced studies Master of Theology degree from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, where his research focused on the intersection of theology, race and cultural criticism.
As a scholar and writer, Billy is a Georgia representative for the United States Academy of Collegiate All-American Scholars. He is also a featured writer for Associated Content and the Atlanta Examiner. In addition, he also facilitates a widely respected blog called “The Critical Cleric” that is read by both teachers and students of religion and culture. Currently, he is writing his first book that will feature a collection of essays on contemporary religion and culture which is scheduled to be released in 2013. Billy is also one of the youngest elected board of trustee members in the history of both Johnson C. Smith Seminary and the Interdenominational Theological Center.
As a speaker and preacher, Billy ministers all across the country in churches, temples, mosques, schools, colleges, universities, civic organizations and book stores etc. Billy’s speaking promotes a unique message of spiritual reconciliation and social renewal, which definitely crosses denominational and cultural lines. His God-given ability to preach and teach from a socio-cultural-theological platform, as opposed to arguing philosophical-theological church issues, has strengthened and encouraged the faith of people across diverse lands. His intellectual scriptural approach, as well as his intense oratorical style, stimulates the intellect of people at all levels of life.
As a religious leader Billy is committed to using every available resource of a educated mind, a committed soul, and a gentle spirit to the uplift of humanity and to the mission of holding before the consciences of society the inalienable right of liberty and justice for all; while at the same time remaining steadfast to the proclamation a gospel of liberating reconciliation that brings about God’s reign of justice, joy, and peace throughout all creation.