05 June, 2007

Pastor's "Unfortunate" Name Makes Finding a Church Tough


Sharing the same name as a famous historical figure can be a positive or a negative thing depending on one's perspective. For example about five years ago a small church in Virginia was thrilled when they called their new pastor Robert Edward Lee. Around the same time a pastor by the name of William T. Sherman struggled to find a pastorate in state of Georgia. The same stands true for one Southern Baptist Pastor in Mississippi. After attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary he began looking for a pastoral call to a Southern Baptist Church, but with little success. Now, six years later he continues to search and pray for a call to the ministry. His name - John Calvin.

Calvin, who was brought up Presbyterian, joined the Southern Baptist Church during his college years. He also changed his theology to match the more pervading Arminian views held by most Southern Baptists. After college he felt called to attend seminary and enter the pastorate. While his years at seminary seemed to go well, Calvin has had "nothing but problems" ever since he finished his studies and began seeking a call.

"Growing up Presbyterian my name was never a big deal, but when I became a Baptist and stopped following Calvin's teachings a lot changed" said Calvin. "Some of my seminary professors even suggested that I start going by my middle name. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, but I guess I was wrong."

Immediately out of seminary Calvin began searching for a call. While most of his friends quickly received calls, mostly to small rural churches, Calvin did not receive even so much as a phone call from the churches he contacted.

"I sent out resume after resume and no one would even call me back" said Calvin. "Finally one day a deacon from one church called me. I got really excited, and then he asked me 'Is your name really John Calvin son?' I told him yes and he just started laughing and said 'Well, we just wanted to see if this was a joke or not.' I never heard from them again after that."

Calvin currently resides in Kiln, Mississippi where he works for a concrete mixing company and attends Mt. Zion Baptist Church and helps with the church's youth ministry. But even at Mt. Zion Calvin, still struggles to be accepted by the congregation.

"They have yet to ask me to preach once or teach Sunday School" he said. "I suppose it might be time to change my name or start going by my middle name, Luther."


Brian Hamrick said...

Somebody introduce this guy to ARBCA or Founders!

Stefan Ewing said...

Meanwhile, some guy named Charles Finney was called the same day he graduated.

Religion Roundtable said...

What if he keeps his first name, and just changes his last name from Calvin to Wesley?

Anonymous said...


I love it.

Joe said...

My wife and I have even considered naming a future boy child Calvin Wesley-- we'll just let him sort it out. We actually like both names on their own merits. Plus, I grew up Methodist and I'm now reformed.

The worst real name for a dude? Darwin Fish. Man, what a moniker.

Stefan Ewing said...

Yeah, no kidding!

Anonymous said...

The pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Appomattox, VA is Robert E. Lee Jr.

No lie.

pilgrim said...

I was wondering what his middle name would be.

Shep Shepherd said...

He wouldn't have this problem if he hadn't drifted away from Presbyterianism and gone over to Arminianism in the first place and changed his theology. ;-)

In Christ,
The Aspiring Theologian

Knight of the Living God

Rioni Unchained said...

The very last word had me! I was laughing harder than I have in a very long time!