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The Rev. Dr. Leslie D. Callahan's Sermon Focuses on Black History
Posted on Riverside Blog February 18, 2012

The Rev. Dr. Leslie Dawn Callahan graced the pulpit of The Riverside Church on Sunday, February 26th. Rev. Callahan is the first female pastor of the historic 119-year-old St. Paul's Baptist Church, located in the heart of Philadelphia, Pa.

Rev. Callahan, a native of Gary, West Virginia is a 1992 graduate of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Union Theological Seminary, in New York, New York.

Following her seminary degree, Leslie moved to Princeton, New Jersey, where she simultaneously pursued her doctorate in religion at Princeton University and served as the Minister of Christian Education at the First Baptist Church of Princeton. On May 18, 1997, she was ordained to Christian ministry at Judson Memorial Church in New York City.

In the fall of 2002, Dr. Callahan became a member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania and became active in the Philadelphia Baptist Association. In April 2005, she was called as the interim pastor of the Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown. In her two years at Salem, Dr. Callahanís ministry gifts blossomed further as she preached to, taught, loved, and nurtured the congregation, encouraging them always to expand their capacity for receiving God, Godís presence, and Godís word.

In 2008 she joined the New York Theological Seminary faculty as Assistant Professor of Modern Church History and African American Studies and began to pray for a call to a congregation. The Lord answered that prayer on May 17, 2009, when the St. Paulís Baptist Church, 1000 Wallace St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, took the courageous step and extended a call to her to become the fifth pastor and first woman pastor in what was then their 119-year history.

She serves as on the board of trustees of The Living Pulpit. Her published writings include a chapter in The Audacity of Faith: Christian Leaders Reflect on the Election of Barack Obama by Marvin A. McMickle (Editor). She also maintains two blogs.

In addition to her ministry and scholarly pursuits, she enjoys traveling, reading, golf, movies, hanging out with friends, and watching Philadelphia sports teams, especially the Phillies. She is also an active member of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The scripture that provides the theme of her life is Psalm 27:4 ďOne thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in [Godís] temple.Ē