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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Julie Pennington-Russell Leaves Texas For Georgia

After almost nine years as Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Julie Pennington-Russell (my pastor) is leaving Texas for Georgia (my home state).

Starting in late June, Pastor Julie will begin as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia. Over 140 years old, FBC Decatur allows its members to contribute the national and international mission portion of their offering through either the CBF or the SBC. According to their website, 80% of mission funds are directed through the CBF and about 20% through the SBC. A good-ole fashioned "Choice" Church. Keeping the peace with those who still love Annie and Lottie ain't a bad idea. My childhood church does the same. FBC Decatur lists 2,696 current members.

In 1998, Pastor Julie became the first female senior pastor of a church affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. A graduate of Golden Gate Seminary, before coming to Calvary, Pastor Julie served as the pastor of Nineteenth Avenue Church in San Francisco (1993-1998) and as the church's associate pastor (1984-1993). During her tenure in California, Southern Baptist fundamentalists failed for three consecutive years to have 19th Avenue Baptist Church removed from the state convention. Upon Pastor Julie's arrival to Waco, dozens of protestors from God Said Ministries picketed Calvary's Sunday services. In addition to her pastoral duties, Pastor Julie has served on the board of the Baptist Joint Committee and on the CBF's Coordinating Council. Recently, Pastor Julie was announced as a speaker at next January's Celebration of the New Baptist Covenant.

While living in Atlanta, I visited First Decatur a handful of times. Nice church. The folks were friendly. One of my best friends served as Decatur's College Minister before becoming a full-time pastor. Surrounded by Emory and Agnes Scott and with Georgia Tech nearby, Decatur is a great place to minister to college students and young adults. For years, Molly Marshall was THE woman pastor emulated by many young Baptist women including Pastor Julie. Now, many many young Baptist women look to Julie Pennington-Russell as a role model to emulate. Pastor Julie will indeed be widely missed by Calvary and the Baylor community. FBC Decatur is getting a gem in Julie Pennington-Russell.

-"I am a pastor, not in spite of what the Bible says, but because of what the Bible says." - Julie Pennington-Russell


Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Well, I don't know if this is good news for Julie, and it sure isn't for your church, but it is good news for FBC Decatur. I hope she shakes them up some. When I lived in Atlanta in the early '80s, they were a pretty snobby bunch and not very social justice oriented. I went to Oakhurst BC in those days.

11:12 AM

Anonymous Lee said...

Calvary was pretty much an elderly, dying on the vine congregation before Julie arrived there as pastor. It is pretty clear that during her tenure as pastor, the church has been revitalized. One of the things I've noticed on my occasional visits through the past few years has been that my wife and I, in our mid-40's, were often among the oldest people in the congregation.

So what will it take for Calvary's next pastor to hold the church together and keep it moving on the same track?

8:14 AM

Anonymous Ed (from Oklahoam) said...

Whoa Nellie !

2:31 PM

Blogger No Fat Fitness said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:05 AM

Blogger Golden Wonton said...

I am a member of FBC Decatur and I think Pastor Julie is wonderful. She has only been here for a few months, but her loving and confirming attitude has been a welcome change. Our church has gone through some changes over the past few years and I can really feel God moving. I have been a member for over 10 years and this is the first time I could say that.

9:09 AM


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