Rev. France A. Davis celebrates 40 years

By Nadia Crow

Published 04/10 2014 06:36PM

Updated 04/10 2014 06:45PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah)- An iconic figure in Utah has dedicated his life to his congregation and his community. In less than two weeks, Rev. France A Davis will mark 40 years as the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City.

A three-day celebration will honor Pastor France A. Davis for his 40 years of service, but that journey began long before Pastor Davis ever came to Utah.

For the past 40 years, Rev. France A Davis has been a fixture right behind the pulpit at Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City. His favorite sermon is, “Go Gracehound, Leave the Driving to Jesus.”

“If we depend upon, grace and the gift of God, as opposed to justice that life will be exciting,” said Rev. Davis.

He lived by those words even at a young age not knowing what lied ahead. He was baptized at 12-years-old. But at 18, he took another leap of faith to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“It was an exciting time to be apart of what was happening that was bringing about a change just for us as a people and for the whole world,” said Rev. Davis.

He then served in the military and graduated from Berkley. A call from the University of Utah in 1972 brought him to Salt Lake.

“When I went to restaurants or malls I would be followed by authorities. In one occasion, I actually had some bullets fired into my office,” said Rev. Davis.

Despite the discrimination, Pastor Davis stayed in Utah. He created a home for others looking to settle here.

“They are blown away when they walk through the doors of Calvary. They have not seen anywhere on the street the numbers of African Americans they can see here,” said Rev. Davis.

Over the past 40 years, the face of Calvary has changed. It’s now more diverse, more educated, and more people. But every Sunday his message stayed the same.

“Every person has worth and value and all of ought to be striving to reach our highest potential,” said Rev. Davis.

From humble beginnings, to the Civil Rights Movement, to the hardships of war, and the opportunity of education, Rev. Davis says his faith always guided him through.

“My steps have been ordered. I never imagined coming to Utah. I came. I never imagined staying in Utah. I stayed. I never imagined being at Calvary church. And I never imagined what we would achieve as workers in this community,” said Rev. Davis.

He’ll retire as a professor at the University of Utah. But he’ll remain at the helm of Calvary Baptist Church and fixture in the community.

“You can never underestimate what God can do, if the person is available for him to use,” said Rev. Davis.

Sunday, April 27th this room will be at capacity even the overflow area full with dignitaries, Baptist Church leaders, and of course the faithful Calvary congregation all here to honor Pastor Davis. Everyone in the community is invited. Click here for more information.

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