Rev. France Davis, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Utah and Conscience for the State, Reflects on 40 Years of Ministry

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rev. France Davis acknowledges members of the Calvary Baptist Church as they celebrate his 40th anniversary as their pastor Sunday April 27 in Salt Lake City.
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rev. France Davis acknowledges members of the Calvary Baptist Church as they celebrate his 40th anniversary as their pastor Sunday April 27 in Salt Lake City.

The Rev. France Davis has been a fixture on Utah’s faith front for decades.

Leading the state’s most prominent black church, the slight, soft-spoken pastor carries himself with dignity, rarely raising his voice. But his words carry an unmistakable moral authority that reaches across government, civic and religious boundaries.

And Davis’ quiet, steady efforts have built a vast empire of social services for Salt Lake City’s black community.

On Sunday, the 67-year-old former civil-rights activist celebrated 40 years of leading Calvary Baptist Church. His hair has a little more gray in it than when the Georgia native arrived in the Beehive State in 1972, but his view of the future is no less passionate or optimistic.

Were you religious as a child?

Absolutely. I grew up attending a Baptist church in Georgia every Sunday morning and reading the Bible every Sunday afternoon. Even in our school, we had prayer each day before schoolwork and closed the day with a devotion.

I never imagined being a pastor, but I did see myself as a serious and committed person. I made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ when I was 12 years old. I figured I needed a balanced life and a part of that was to be spiritually balanced.

When I was 19 years old, I decided that the ministry would be my life work, based on my sense of my calling from God. I was living in Fort Lauderdale at the time, after going to college at Tuskegee [in Alabama]. It was in the middle of my civil-rights involvement, right after the March on Washington in 1963, and the Selma [Ala.] march in 1965.

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Source: Salt Lake Tribune |  Peggy Fletcher Stack

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