Formal Installation Included in Calvary Baptist's 90th-Anniversary Celebration
Submitted on February 8, 2018
Mary Alice Birdwhistell, Georgetown College Class of 2009, was officially installed as senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. The installation was part of Calvary Baptist Church’s 90th-anniversary celebration. Preaching for this service for the church’s second female pastor was its first female pastor, Julie Pennington-Russell who has the distinction of being the first female pastor of a Baptist church in Texas.
“At Calvary, we often say to one another that ‘we pledge ourselves to be the family of God for you in this place,” Birdwhistell said. “I am excited to gather with the Calvary family to celebrate our 90th anniversary at 18th and Bosque and even more hopeful about the future God is calling us toward in this place.”
Calvary Baptist Church was formed when the congregations of Brooke Avenue Baptist Church and Provident Heights Baptist Church – both facing declining membership – voted, on Feb. 5, 1928, to merge and form Calvary. The newly-minted church continued to meet at the Provident Heights location, at 1001 North 18th-A Street, which is where Calvary has remained for the past 90 years.
“My family and I are thrilled to be joining this faith community we love for its 90th-anniversary celebration and for the installation of Mary Alice as its pastor,” said Pennington-Russell, who is now senior pastor at The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C. “Mary Alice’s keen pastoral intuition, prophetic courage, and unquenchable joy, coupled with Calvary’s risk-taking, forward-thinking compassionate spirit, make for a beautiful pairing.”
Pennington-Russell was senior pastor at Calvary from August 1998 until 2007.
“I first saw Julie preach when I was a junior in college attending a large Baptist gathering in Atlanta,” Birdwhistell said. “As she preached, I was mesmerized. After the sermon, I looked up at my professor and said, ‘Maybe I could do that one day, too.’ He encouraged me to meet her, so I marched myself up to the front of this large conference center, stood in line, and met Julie face-to-face. Little did I know in that sacred moment that she would become such a significant mentor to me or that I would become the pastor of the church where she once served. I am still in awe of the ways God has woven our stories together.”
Birdwhistell, a native of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, began her duties as senior pastor on July 10, 2017. She earned her master of divinity degree from Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary in May 2013 and graduated with a degree in English from Georgetown College. She joined Calvary Baptist Church as children’s minister in September 2009. She was named the church’s associate pastor in 2013.