First Institutional Baptist Church Phoenix
Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., is a native of Coffeyville, Kansas where he was reared in a Christian family and African-American Church environment. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at the age of 16 and preached his Trail Sermon at the age of 17. He is married to the Reverend Dr. Karen E. (Curry) Stewart and they are the parents of a blended family of five sons, Warren, Jr., Matthew, Jared, Justin, Aaron and two daughters, Jamila Imani and Jessica Elizabeth (Curry) Morris. He is the grandfather of Warren Josiah, III, Micaiah Lovel, Matthew Christian II, Jared Chamberlain II, Kaira Nechee, John Paul Silas, Jase Alexander, Joshua Elijah, Mia Noelai, Sanaya Elyse, Janelle Elizabeth, Lance Nasir and Jayla Arielle, and “adopted” Jonny Angel. He is presently the Senior Pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church of Phoenix, Arizona and has served there since July 1, 1977. Dr. Stewart was appointed Executive Secretary of the Home Mission Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in November 1994 and served through January 2005, and also continued serving as Chair of that Board through January 2010. In 2019, he became an Individual Life Member of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Dr. Stewart’s academic achievements and awards include an Associate of Arts Degree, 1971, Honor Graduate, Coffeyville Community Junior College, Coffeyville, Kansas; Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and Philosophy, 1973 graduating Summa Cum Laude, Bishop College, Dallas, Texas; Master of Divinity Degree, 1976, Union Theological Seminary, New York City; Master of Sacred Theology Degree, 1977, selected to deliver Commencement Address, Union Theological Seminary; Doctor of Ministry Degree, 1982, American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, California; was recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Ottawa University, Ottawa, Kansas, 1994; and the recipient of the Award of Excellence in Black Church Studies, 1982, Ecumenical Center for Black Church Studies, Los Angeles, California. Dr. Stewart has also been the recipient of numerous awards and commendations from churches, colleges, civic and community organizations, locally, statewide and nationally. He was recognized by The Arizona Republic newspaper as one of the ten most influential religious leaders in the Valley (Phoenix), October 6, 1985, The Phoenix Gazette 1993 Hall of Fame as being “one of ten people whose achievements had the most notable effect on . . . Arizona,” the Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) as a “Living Legend” on January 20, 2002, 2003 Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement Award by City of Phoenix/MLK, Jr. Celebration, Phoenix Business Journal as one of 25 “Leaders and Legends” in the business community in 2005, Phoenix New Times “Best Pro-Civil Rights Pastor” and Arizona Informant “Faith Community Award”, both in 2011. Dr. Stewart was inducted into the 30thAnniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. College of Ministers & Laity—Board of Preachers, and had his oil painting portrait unveiled and hung in the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel, Atlanta, GA, on April 9, 2015. Dr. Stewart and FIBC received the 2015 President’s Volunteer Service Award. He was honored by being named a 2017 HISTORYMAKER by the Historical League, Inc.
Dr. Stewart is the author of INTERPRETING GOD’S WORD IN BLACK PREACHING, published by Judson Press, 1984 and in its fifth printing; HOW TO HANDLE GIANTS: Sermons to African-American Youth and Their Mentors, published by Townsend Press, 1995; Do Prophets Exist in Contemporary Culture?, 2009; Our Values as a Pastor and People: The Bible Study, 2013; and VICTORY TOGETHER FOR MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: The Story of Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., Governor Evan Mecham and the Historic Battle for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday in Arizona, 2015, as well as has published articles and sermons in several major publications. He has also served as Adjunct Professor of Ottawa University-Phoenix Campus, Phoenix Seminary and the Doctor of Ministry Program at Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, California. Currently, he serves on the Phoenix Seminary Board of Directors and as the Chairperson of the African American Christian Clergy Coalition, representing over 100 predominantly Black congregations and clergy in the Valley of the Sun.
Dr. Stewart served as Associate Minister of the Cornerstone Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York, under the pastorate of the late Dr. Sandy F. Ray, in whose honor the Annual Sandy F. Ray Institute for pastors, ministers and lay persons was founded and held annually at First Institutional for years. At FIBC, Pastor Stewart has licensed 163 sons and daughters into the Gospel Ministry.
Dr. Stewart has traveled and preached extensively throughout the United States and internationally to include 38 States and Territories, and 53 Countries, including a challenging three-week Preaching Mission, sponsored by the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., Foreign Mission Board, to several African countries including South Africa, and attended the First African/African-American Summit held in West Africa in 1991 convened by the late Dr. Leon H. Sullivan. Also, FIBC, under Pastor Stewart, built a new church edifice and parsonage for the First Institutional Baptist Church of Soweto, Republic of South Africa. In April 2004, he was extended an invitation by Executive Secretary Emile D. E. Sam-Peal to serve as the Guest Preacher during the 90th Annual Session of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Inc. Since February 2005, first participating on Baptist World Alliance Mission Team Trip to North-East India, he has been involved in ministry in India. Dr. Stewart’s ministry is characterized by an unwavering commitment and Spirit-filled zeal to engage in Evangelism and Emancipation, meeting the needs of the whole person. As a result, since 1982, the First Institutional Baptist Church has intentionally BECOME A DISCIPLING FELLOWSHIP THROUGH EVANGELISM AND EMANCIPATION under the leadership of the Holy Spirit through Dr. Stewart’s pastoral ministry. In the 1990s, he led FIBC in completing three phases of the VISION 2000 Master Plan which built an educational, administrative and outreach building, acquired additional property, and renovated the worship center at a total cost of nearly four million dollars in cash debt-free. In 2004, a five million dollar family life center was built completing the VISION 2000 Master Plan, totaling almost $9,000,000.00. In 2019, FIBC purchased historic property east of the FIBC campus. In addition, FIBC has established FIBCO Family Services, Inc., Samaritan House for Homeless Families, Ujima House for Unwed Teenage Mothers and their Infants, and sponsors the Broadway House low-income housing complex and several residential homes for the seriously mentally ill, all of which provide social services to thousands monthly.
Dr. Stewart served as the first General Chairperson for ARIZONANS FOR A MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. STATE HOLIDAY which contributed significantly to the legislative passage of Arizona’s Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on September 21, 1989. Dr. Stewart also organized and led VICTORY TOGETHER, INC., a broad-based coalition that campaigned for a Martin Luther King, Jr./Civil Rights Day in Arizona which was won by a historic vote of the people in the general election on November 3, 1992. He has also served as the President of the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest and Paradise Missionary Baptist State Convention of Arizona, Inc. and Congress, respectively. In 2011, he organized an Exploratory Committee for the open U.S. Senate from Arizona in 2012 to consider running on a platform of justice. From 2012-2014, Dr. Stewart served as Chair of the Board of the National Immigration Forum as well as co-organized the Black/Brown Coalition of Arizona. He was drafted and ran for the Phoenix City Council-District 8 seat in 2013. Dr. Stewart is an enthusiastic advocate of the sanctity of life ethic which believes that all human life has intrinsic value from conception to natural death. He is also recognized by others as “a man of conscience, commitment and dedication to the cause of moral leadership, human rights and a soldier of justice and equality.”