Release provided by Kevin Tankersley

WACO, Texas — In a recent unanimous vote, Calvary Baptist Church in Waco named Georgetown College graduate Mary Alice Birdwhistell its new associate pastor. She is currently the church’s children’s minister and will begin her new role on April 1.

Birdwhistell, who is scheduled to graduate in May with her master’s of divinity degree from George W. Truett Theological Seminary, earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky., in 2009.

She joined Calvary as children’s minister in September 2009.

“God has used Mary Alice to speak to this congregation both through her words and her person. We are blessed to have ministering to us, for us and with us,” said Jim Coston, who has been senior pastor at Calvary since August 2009.

Calvary was the first Baptist church in Texas to have a female as its senior pastor. Julie Pennington-Russell held that role from August 1998 until 2007, when she became senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Decatur, Ga. In the summer of 2012, Birdwhistell served a mentorship under Pennington-Russell in Decatur.

“Almost immediately when Mary Alice came to be with us last fall, people began talking about what an extraordinarily gifted minister she is,” Pennington-Russell said. “It’s pastors like Mary Alice who give me hope for the future of the church. I’m thrilled about this opportunity opening up for Mary Alice at Calvary—one of the finest congregations I’ve ever known.”

Birdwhistell said that when she came to Waco to visit Truett Seminary, “I really was just visiting to rule it out, because there was no way I was going to move to Texas. Now, Waco has become home to me, this community has become family to me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The people at Calvary believed in me, challenged me, and over the past three-and-a-half years, equipped me to be their pastor. Being called to be the associate pastor at Calvary is a sacred reminder of the gift they have entrusted to me, a gift they have helped me to discover, unwrap and begin to life out. For that, I am and will always be so very grateful.”

Calvary Baptist Church was founded in February 1928, when the congregations of Provident Heights Baptist Church and Brooks Avenue Baptist Church voted to merge.