Bishop Mark C. Tolbert, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, is the fifth of six children
born to Lee A. and Lorene V. Tolbert. At the tender age of seven, Mark was baptized in
the name of Jesus. Two years later in a Sunday evening tarrying service young Mark
Curtis was filled with the Holy Ghost. In 1973, Mark graduated from Central High
School. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, Mark found it more rewarding to go into the
work force. He later attended Penn Valley Community College.
1974 became an interesting year for Elder Mark, when he chose to move to Chicago,
Illinois to further his business experience under the instruction of Al Potter, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all times. Returning home in 1976, Mark owned and operated
his own photography company, contracting with over 40 schools in the greater Kansas
City, Missouri and Kansas area. Mark also purchased a Fast Food franchise on 31st and
Indiana. For the next five years, business flourished until the SMAKS parent company.
The company was bought out by the Jack-In-The-Box restaurant chain, and forced the
sale of all SMAKS stores in 1981.
In 1976, Elder Mark met the girl of his dreams, Emelda Faciane. It did not take him long
to realize this was the girl he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Three months
later, she finally agreed to give him a date. That first date was the beginning of the rest
of their lives together. In April of 1978, Mark and Emelda were joined in Holy
Matrimony by his father, District Elder Lee A. Tolbert and District Elder James Alford.
To this union two children were born, Mark C. Tolbert, Jr. and Britton Elliot Tolbert.
Mark Jr. went on to glory in December, 2000 and Britton is following in his father’s
business savvy footsteps.
Entrepreneur Mark ventured into bigger business opportunities. Richard Freeman, with
Johnson Products, was in need of a regional representative. When he met Mark Tolbert,
he knew he had the right man for the job. For the next five years, Mark traveled a 14-
state area and produce millions of dollars in revenue for the Johnson Products Company.
During his tenure, Mark had the privilege to lunch with George Johnson, owner of
Johnson Products, and later became a speaker at their national sales meeting.
After Johnson Products, Elder Mark went to work for Blankenship Distributors in Kansas
City, Missouri. Because of his business experience in the national hair care industry, the
project to create the advertising agency for Blankenship was given to Mark Tolbert. Over
the next few years, Mark designed full page ads which were featured in prominent
publications such as Jet, Ebony, Black Enterprise Magazine, the Globe Newspaper, the
Call Newspaper, etc.
Throughout his business career, Mark Tolbert never ceased to have a fervent relationship
with God. He filled various positions in Christ Temple Pentecostal Church, his local
assembly; the Northwestern District Council; the International Pentecostal Young
Peoples Union; and, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. Mark first felt the call of
the ministry at the age of 18. Like many ministers, he fled from his call until God got his
attention on Interstate 29 at midnight, while his car sat on the edge of a cliff. From that
day forward, the gospel has been preached throughout the nation and the world by Bishop Mark Tolbert.
Faithful service to his local assembly gave Mark experience as the church drummer, bus
driver, janitor, youth president, choir president, kitchen helper, assistant pastor, co-pastor,
and now the Pastor of Victorious Life Church. On the district level he served as Vice
chairman of the Youth Department, Chairman of the Youth Department, Council
Chairman, and District Elder. On the national level, Bishop Mark served as an assistant
convention coordinator, lay director of the Midwestern Region of the Pentecostal
Assemblies of the World, Suffragan Bishop, And general treasurer of the Pentecostal
Assemblies of the World. He is a member of the Board of Bishops of the Pentecostal
Assemblies of the World and was Diocesan Bishop of the Canada Council for 5 years.
Now Bishop Tolbert serves as the Diocesan Bishop of the Heart of America Council of
Churches formerly (NWDC). He also serves our National Pentecostal Assemblies of the
World as the 1st Assistant Presiding Bishop. As part of his community involvement he
serves the City of Kansas City Mo. as a Commissioner of the Kansas City Missouri
Police Department Appointed by the Governor of Missouri.
During his father tenure as pastor, Elder Mark Tolbert operated in the capacity of
business manager and administrator, then assistant pastor. In 1989, Elder Mark C.
Tolbert, Sr. and
Sis. Emelda were selected to be the Pastor and First Lady of Christ Temple Church. In
1989, a majority vote was cast in his favor, and Pastor Tolbert was officially installed in
July of 1989, by the late Bishop Samuel A. Layne of St. Louis Mo.
After participating in the city-wide clergy organization for one year, Pastor Tolbert was
elected First Vice President to the Kansas City Coalition of Concerned Clergy, founded
by the Rev. Wallace Hartzfield. Two years later, he was elected President. As a result of
the new ideas and synergy presented among the clergy, Pastor Mark was the first
president elected to serve two 1-year terms, consecutively.
Bishop Tolbert has served on several boards in our community: Friends of Sacred
Structures, Y.M.C.A., Bishop Hogan Christian Academy, as well as the Kansas City
Coalition of Concerned Clergy, to name a few. He is also president of the Sparrow
Community Development Corporation, founder of the Lee A. Tolbert Community
Academy, and president of its school board.
In addition to being a full-time pastor, he and his wife, First Lady Emelda operate a
health and nutritional distributorship under the Neo-Life brand. Their business operates
in 27 states and Africa, Canada, and the Caribbean.
One can only get excited in working under the leadership of Bishop Mark Tolbert. As
Pastor and Bishop, he gives his all to soul winning; expanding outreach ministries;
upgrading the building facilities; and, promoting church growth. He is easy to entreat
and always has a little laughter in his heart. He is enthusiastic about preaching Jesus and
encouraging all to live our God-ordained ~ Victorious Life!
Bishop has traveled nationally as well as internationally including:
-A mission trip with the Jewish Community Federation to develop better business
relations between Israel and the Kansas City business community.
-Every state in the United States
- Five different cities in the continent of Africa, including Lubumbashi in the
Congo and Johannesburg in South Africa where he preached, delivered food and
water to rural areas and dug wells over the course of 15 days.
- Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls in Canada
-The countries of Venezuela, Spain, Columbia in South America
-The Antilles, the countries of Aruba and Mexico as well as the city of
Hong Kong, the People & Republic of China
The following excerpts from an interview with Bishop Mark Tolbert reveal his passion
for doing God's work: & quote;
Some of the trips were mission trips, some were business.
Most of the time we try to do
some kind of church while we’re out,” Bishop said. “My life is entrepreneurial and
church. I wish we had more church people who would be entrepreneurs because, even
when Jesus was walking on the earth, his disciples sometimes made tents, and had to do other things… As religious people we get so caught up in religion that we forget we have to live,” Bishop said, stressing that Christians need to do something to sustain
themselves, that keeps bread on the table and keeps you viable as a part of life and a part of society.
“Our church is unique,” said Bishop. “I think that part of my goal is to develop people
along the way. Some people just go to church as a social outing or religious social outing
but I think people have to develop and the church has to purposely put on programs to
Bishop Tolbert considers the development of the Lee A. Tolbert Community
Academy as one of his biggest accomplishments. The school started with 191
children in 1999, and now has more than 500 students enrolled. Additionally,
there is the educational wing, the Lee A. Tolbert Community Center, and a
partnership with Local Investment Commission (LINC) that provides before- and after-
school care for not only students in the Lee A. Tolbert Community Academy, but also for the children in the surrounding neighborhood. Bishop sees the naming and establishment of the Lee A. Tolbert Community Academy as a part of his father’s legacy. “What my father had gone through with an 8th grade education – raising 6 kids, 6 successful children, along with my Mom – I really wanted to name this school after my father.”Under Bishop Tolbert’s tutelage, the church also expanded the ministry of Jesus Christ to the surrounding neighborhood and the entire city, through a variety of programs and events. “We used to have a church outing and people would come - or not come. We would provide free food and games and sometimes people wouldn’t show up, so I started the block party – something that allows the church folks to have free food and have fun but also allows us to come together with people in the neighborhood,” said Bishop. “It has been one of the most successful community stabilizers and outreach services we have had. There is also the Hope House for Men, a place where men can live for 6 months as we help them find employment & stabilization for their lives.
Bishop also considers the church’s productions as a service and outreach to the
community at-large. “It’s something that the community can come to watch and
participate in. It’s ministry in another form. It gets people who might never come to
church, to come and see that church folks can do more than talk about people,” Bishop
said with a chuckle. One production was To Hell and Back 2, which featured a young
man who, through a near-death experience saw others go to hell for different sins,
decided to give his life to Christ. When asked about his own personal legacy, Bishop Tolbert said, “I don’t ever really think about that. I am fortunate that I was able to follow my father so that I could help establish his legacy because, unfortunately, society really does not give people their props until they are dead. And then, most of the time they’re only going to give you a little bit and not what you deserve.” Bishop Tolbert is looking forward to developing his own successor “because I don’t think that a preacher should stay in office until he’s incapacitated. My goal is to develop a successor, retire and continue to organize community events and be on different boards and things of that nature in the community.” He also envisions himself playing golf and doing yard work when he retires. “My hot button is always trying to help people improve themselves. With the school, Black Expo, Sparrow Community Development Corporation, all of my effort is really spent trying to develop opportunities to help people in our community live better: visions and goals and all the necessary supports to accomplish those dreams, visions and goals. It is all vision driven. That’s why the Bible says, without a vision the people perish. If for one minute I thought that I could not help people develop into being the accomplished people that God wants them to be, I would quit,” he said. “When pastoring, you’re developing people & systems. You are developing a vision that does not just include the accomplishment of the church. The accomplishment of the church is the accomplishment of the people.”
The fact that the church has birthed other ministries and churches is a blessing and an
example of how this church has been growing more and more Victorious each year.
Since 1938 Christ Temple / Victorious Life Church, has made it our business to help
people help themselves.
Teacher, Preacher, Entrepreneur
Bishop Tolbert is preparing leaders to lead courageously and vivaciously into the future. Leaders of tomorrow must be trained and prepared today.