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Dr. Chuck Kelley

Dr. Chuck Kelley

President Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor of Evangelism at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Director and Founder of

Innovative Evangelism

Dr. Chuck Kelley is a follower of Jesus, husband to Rhonda, and Distinguished Research Professor of Evangelism at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Born in Beaumont, Texas, in 1952, Kelley grew up in First Baptist Church of Beaumont and was ordained as a minister in February 1972 at the age of 19. Kelley earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy from Baylor University in 1974. While there, he met Rhonda Harrington, whom he married in June 1974. Kelley holds two degrees from NOBTS: a master of divinity (1978) and a doctor of theology (1983).

Kelley began teaching evangelism at NOBTS in 1983. From 1989 to 1996, he was the Roland Q. Leavell Professor of Evangelism at the seminary, and from 1993 to 1996, he directed the Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health. In addition, he was chair of the Pastoral Ministries Division at NOBTS from 1993 to 1995. For Kelley’s full ministry history and books, articles and curriculum he’s written, click here.

Kelley served as president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for 23 years and evangelism professor for more than 35 years.

In 1996, Kelley became the 8th president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Under his leadership, New Orleans Seminary has become a leader in distance learning sites and now offers a growing number of fully-online degrees. NOBTS also maintains educational programs in prisons in four states—Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida—where inmates earn a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry degree. The school’s goal is to make theological education accessible to anyone called by God, regardless of location.


Most notably, Kelley guided the seminary through its darkest days following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. NOBTS was the only school in New Orleans that continued all its programs and all its classes that fall despite having no access to the campus. December 2005 graduation was celebrated in Birmingham. Through the aid of Southern Baptists, the campus was rebuilt and re-opened for students, staff and faculty in August of the next year.

On July 31, 2019, Kelley retired as president of NOBTS and became Distinguished Research Professor of Evangelism and President Emeritus. In addition to his research and writing, he continues to be an itinerant preacher and evangelist.

Kelley founded Innovative Evangelism, of which he currently serves as director, in 1978 to support his call to evangelism including his writing and speaking ministry.


Evangelism. Churches. New Orleans. The state of the SBC. Ministry training. The next generation of Christian leaders. These are all topics Dr. Kelley is passionate about.

"Katrina couldn’t blow the sugar off our beignets."
–Dr. Chuck Kelley
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