Pastor France Davis of Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah Celebrates 40 Years of Caring for the Individual and the Community

The Rev. France A. Davis prepares for services at Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City Sunday, March 16, 2014. March 19 begins the 40 days of celebrating the Rev. Davis and his 40th anniversary. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
The Rev. France A. Davis prepares for services at Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City Sunday, March 16, 2014. March 19 begins the 40 days of celebrating the Rev. Davis and his 40th anniversary.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

If you close your hand, nothing will come in and nothing will go out.

Pastor France A. Davis, 67, keeps his hand open, says his wife, Willene Davis. He offers it to those he leads as pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City and to all those he has come in contact with in the community during his past 40 years of service.

“It’s always been his goal to help people,” Willene Davis said.

This week kicks off Pastor Davis’ 40th year of service to the church. People from around the world are coming to celebrate the pastor and his wife with 40 days of events, recognizing the many events he has led.

Not satisfied with blessing his own flock only, he and his congregation have been involved with a ministry to feed the homeless (they fed 337 people during Sunday’s early service), built low-income housing units for senior citizens, visited those who are in the hospital and will provide a presentation for preventing teen suicide and teen dating violence, among other services.

While describing Davis as a man who wears many hats, Karen Hale, communications director for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, corrected herself:

“I guess, to him, it’s a single hat.”

His ministry revolves around three central principles that guide him: Everyone is valuable, education is important, and those with education should be a light to others.

Everyone has value

Sunday services find him embracing members of the congregation before and after worship. Normally soft-spoken, Pastor Davis’ voice swells to a roar when preaching to the congregation.

This particular Sunday he has returned to the theme of forgiveness, recounting the story of Jesus teaching his followers about how often to forgive.

Pastor Davis playfully names specific members of the congregation while he pleads for each to remember their own humanity and learn to not dwell on the faults of others.

“And Jesus says, ‘Tiffany, no, not three. Not seven, Brother McCowan. But I say unto you from a divine perspective, a divine perspective,'” Davis’ said, voice rising, “‘seventy times seven.'”

“Don’t bother counting the number of times that Brother Clayton’s messed up. Forgive him and move on. And the next time, forgive him, and there’s endless 70 times seven. Four hundred and ninety times and you haven’t started counting yet.”

Forgiveness is critical for personal growth and to the ability to form and retain relationships, he said. This seems to be an art he has perfected, as his influence in the community transcends his own congregation.

“Everybody has worth and value,” he later said. “Everybody has worth and value,” he repeated. “Nobody is nobody. Everybody is somebody.”

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Source: Deseret News | 

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