Pastor establishes legacy in ministry
By Mary Stamp
As Pastor CW (Chet) Andrews approaches his 50th year as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Spokane and his 62nd year in ministry, at 87 he may be the oldest and longest-serving pastor in Spokane when he celebrates that anniversary in May 2024.
In February, Calvary Baptist will celebrate 134 years since it was founded in 1890. One week its founders were sitting in the balcony of First Baptist Church of Spokane Falls and the next week they started their own church. They met in three other locations before settling at 203 E. Third.
It is the oldest African-American church in Spokane and in the state.
Chet, the 14th pastor, has set in place ministry leadership for the future, mentoring and ordaining several in his congregation and family to serve as ministers at Calvary and other churches.
• Son-in-law Amos Atkinson, assistant pastor, was called to ministry and licensed in 2002. He was ordained in 2003. Along with on-the-job training, he studied online at Kaplan University in Florida from 2008 to 2013 and is working on a master's in theology at Grand Canyon University.
Amos, who served in the military 24 years and has retired from work with the state and with local police, is now also the business and workforce program developer at the Carl Maxey Center.
At Calvary, he is responsible for preaching once a month, counseling and working with deacons, deaconesses, trustees, choirs and the soup kitchen.
• Chet's daughter Lyn Andrews Watkins, associate minister and administrative minister, has been employed as a supervisor with the state's Department of Children, Youth and Families for 24 years. She and her husband, Deacon John Watkins, teach a Wednesday evening Bible study Zoom class.
• Lyn and her cousin, Patanisha Andrews, were mentored by Chet, licensed in 2018 and ordained in August 2020. Patanisha now serves her home church, Second Baptist in Everett.
Lyn prepares the preaching schedule, which also includes deacons. For example, In November, Chet preached the first Sunday, Deacon Gerald Kennedy, the second Sunday, Lyn, the third Sunday and Amos, the fourth Sunday.
• Others on Calvary's ministerial staff are associate ministers, Robert Robinson and Dwan Brown. Robert joined the church 15 years ago, and Dwan has been at Calvary 40 years.
• Chet is now mentoring granddaughter Nydia (Notty) Campbell-Pullom, who is the daughter of his son Kenny.
• Earlier, Chet mentored and ordained his oldest son, Chester Jr. in 2001. Chester earned a doctoral degree in organizational leadership from Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale and a master's in business from Fontbonne University in St. Louis. He is working on a master's in pastoral studies at Huntsville Bible College.
Chester Jr., who has worked with defense contractors since the 1980s, is assistant pastor of Freeman Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Moulton, Ala., near where his father grew up.
• Chet also mentored and ordained into ministry Grant Montoya, who now is an English immersion teacher and active in the Harbin International Christian Fellowship in Harbin, China; Luc Jasmin, who started a bilingual church, Maranatha/Jasmin Ministries, in Spokane, and numerous others.
• In 1989, he ordained Calvary's and Spokane's first African-American woman pastor, Rachell Williams.
As Chet's wife for 64 years, Doris is Calvary's first lady. The couple have 14 great-grandchildren, 14 grandchildren and five adult children, four of whom currently share in the leadership and ministry at Calvary.
Three of their children are active in the church's music ministry. Growing up, they sang together as a family at home—with Darrell on drums and Chester on the piano—and in the church.
Son Darrell, who lives with and cares for his parents, is the chief usher, a trustee and provides building and grounds maintenance.
He sings in the men's chorus along with Kenny, who has a restaurant near Newport, caters for the church and community, and sings for sporting events.
Dana Andrews Atkinson, who married Amos in 2000, is the minister of music. She has been in the church all but 10 years of her life. Shortly after she returned to Spokane in 1994, her father appointed her as music director.
Calvary has no pianist, so accompaniment for songs is with CD music, including recordings her organist-pianist brother Chester sends from Alabama.
The Calvary choir has 12 to 20 singing each Sunday.
"I'm proud of how my family works together in the church," Chet said.
A strong supporter of Chet, Doris said her husband's November sermon was "a wonderful, spirit-filled message that edified the church." She added praises for the music, saying there was "foot stomping and hand clapping" that inspired her "to the point of tears."
Chet, who is still pastoring, but less active, does much counseling by phone from home or going to a restaurant to meet with people to talk, advise and pray.
"He loves people. If they call, he visits on the phone or meets them in person. He's a people person," said Doris. "That's where his heart is, concerned that things go smoothly at the church and soup kitchen."
Attendance has been about the same through the years, about 85 regularly and 100 for special events. During the pandemic, services were on Zoom for two years.
"If the church is open, we don't always do Zoom, but when we shut the church because of smoke from the summer wildfires, we offered worship for two Sundays on Zoom," Chet said.
Some Sundays it's recorded and on Facebook. Amos said Calvary is buying equipment to offer the service livestream regularly for those who cannot come.
While there are many older people in the congregation, Chet said there are more younger people, and the church is becoming more a mix of Blacks and whites.
"We welcome whoever comes to hear about Christ crucified and work to build God's kingdom," Chet said.
One outreach is a community garden on 50th Ave. Members plant, cultivate, harvest and clean it up, bringing produce to share at the church.
They also share with students from Whitworth University, which has a partnership with Calvary and awarded Chet an honorary doctorate. For 19 years, Chet taught classes there.
Over the years, Calvary also served the poor and marginalized from its storehouse ministry, providing clothing and food out of the former parsonage, where it now runs its weekly soup kitchen.
In the community, Chet has also served in the Spokane Minister's Fellowship and the Police Advisory Committee.
"The Lord has been gracious to us, blessed our work and kept us humble as we work in God's vineyard to build God's Kingdom," said Chet, who grew up the youngest of 17 children of sharecroppers in the Red Hills of Alabama near Selma.
While his family received little from sharecropping, they managed, supplementing with cooking and cleaning work.
"We knew how to survive," he said.
In contrast to Chet, who grew up in the midst of segregation, Doris moved from New Orleans to Yakima when she was five and attended an integrated school.
They met at church when he moved to Yakima with Western Electric, his employer for about 20 years.
Western moved him to Spokane. Ten years later, he decided to stay here rather than be transferred with Western to New York.
Chet accepted what Calvary could pay over the years. Doris helped support the family with full-time work at Spokane Falls Community College.
Calvary affiliates with the American Baptist and National Baptist USA denominations, and it spun off Morningstar Missionary Baptist and New Hope Baptist, as well as Maranatha, also making the church's legacy and influence wider than those who come through its doors.
For information, call 294-1636 or visit calvarybaptistchurchspokane.com.