I am France Davis, Pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City. Calvary has been a part of the Downtown Salt Lake City Community since the 1890’s, when a group of African American women organized a Baptist Prayer Band to meet the spiritual needs of African American residents. This group formally became the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in 1892, four years before Utah became a state.
We have prepared this information to introduce you to us as a community of believers in Jesus Christ. We look forward to meeting you face-to-face in fellowship.
"We love you, and there ain't nothing you can do about it!"
By the 1890's, Salt Lake’s small Black population was large enough to support the formation of independent institutions to meet the spiritual needs of the Black community. A small group of Black women came together to pray. Meeting in various private homes, they were soon designated as the "Baptist Prayer Band". They assembled under the leadership of Sister Emma Jackson ("Mom Jack"), and her home became their primary meeting place.
These strong Black women worked long hours in private homes, including that of the Governor, as maids, cooks, and wash ladies. At the same time they kept their own houses, tended their children, and cared for their husbands. They turned to Black centers of worship as havens of fellowship which provided positive images, personal strength and opportunities for responsible participation in community building.
By 1892, the Baptist Prayer Band was formally established as The Calvary Missionary Baptist Church.
In 1898, a few of the faithful members of the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church invited the Rev. A. E. Reynolds to permanently start the work. In June of 1898, a building located in the rear of the First Baptist Church (a white church) at 315 West Second South was used as a place of worship for Black Baptists.
According to the Salt Lake Herald Newspaper, the small band of believers soon found and moved into an old frame building located at 37 1/2 (or 39 1/2) South West Temple Street. The newspaper described the church building as the "little colored house of worship in the alley.”
John Mercer Langston, the black abolitionist and politician, described it as a place where the congregation had "an opportunity to be themselves, think their own convictions, make their own utterances, and test their own powers. “
In January, 1899, Rev. D. Jones arrived in Salt Lake City from Topeka, Kansas to pastor the Calvary Missionary Baptist Church.
He was replaced in 1901 by Rev. James W. Washington, an energetic person whose leadership was instrumental in the church's growth during his tenure.
On Sunday, June 29, 1902, Rev. Washington and the congregation held an afternoon and evening reception to celebrate their new chapel, located at 472 East Second South.
In 1911, the Calvary congregation purchased the Eastside Baptist Church from the Immanuel Baptist Church. Calvary’s first worship services at their new 679 East Third South location were held on February 5, 1911.
In 1921, the Calvary Baptist Church was incorporated by the State of Utah under the leadership of Rev. George Hart.
In 1951, Calvary’s Articles of Incorporation were revised and approved by the membership.
- 1898-1898 Reverend A.E. Reynolds
- 1899-1900 Reverend D. Jones
- 1901-1904 Reverend James W. Washington
- 1904 Reverend Charles O. Boothe
- 1905-1906 Reverend Lee Brown
- 1907-1908 Reverend John H. Allen
- 1911-1911 Reverend William A Magett
- 1912-1914 Reverend Allen Newman
- 1914-1916 Reverend Manasseh Wilkerson
- 1916-1923 Reverend George W. Hart(s)
- 1924-1925 Reverend J.D. Wilson
- 1926 Reverend John M. Riddle
- 1927-1929 Reverend Mack Stovall
- 1931-1932 Reverend George Hooie
- 1932-1941 Reverend Charles Spencer
- 1941-1947 Reverend William A. Lucas
- 1948-1950 Reverend William L. Holloway
- 1950-1951 Reverend Andrew W.T. Chism
- 1951-1953 Reverend Lester R Agent
- 1954-1967 Reverend William I Monroe
- 1968-1970 Reverend John H. Johnson
- 1971-1973 Reverend Henry Hudson
- 1974-Present Reverend France A Davis
On November 13, 1966, Calvary' s 74th Church Anniversary, Rev Monroe and the Calvary congregation joyfully marched from their former worship place at 679 East Third South to their new place of worship at 532 East Seventh South. Special services celebrated the new location.
The congregation thrived at the 532 East 700 South location, becoming an integral part of the surrounding community.
When property west of the 532 East 700 South church location became available, the church purchased it, planning for future expansion. At the time of purchase, the property was occupied by three duplexes and one house. The property soon proved to be more than the church thought it needed for expansion or could financially maintain. The church determined to take a different approach.
Calvary formed the non-profit organization, Calvary Tower Housing, Inc. in 1986. The Housing organization approached the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and obtained a government loan to build housing units for low-income elderly and physically handicapped individuals.
Rev Davis and the Calvary congregation dedicated the 30 unit Calvary Tower on July 30, 1989.
The congregation continued to grow, and ministries were expanded to meet the needs of the membership.
In 1996, God blessed the Calvary congregation to secure approximately 2 1/2 acres of land at the corner of State Street and Harvard Ave.
Worship services were held in a tent to celebrate the purchase and dedicate the land to God's use.
Construction costs were reduced by in-kind donations of materials from local companies, and by donations from members of the SLC community.
The new building provided the congregation with adequate space for worship, as well as education, community, and recreational activities.
Through God's goodness, Calvary was blessed to burn the mortgage at the 119th Church Anniversary Celebration on the 13th of November, 2011.
 Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.  While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. Psalm 146 KJV
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34