On May 17, 2009, the congregation of the historic 119-year-old St. Paul’s Baptist Church, located in the heart of Philadelphia, called the Reverend Dr. Leslie D. Callahan as the church’s first female pastor. Dr. Callahan delivered her first sermon as St. Paul’s pastor titled “It’s Time” on May 31 to an excited congregation of St. Paul’s members and friends. After a series of pre-installation celebrations, St. Paul’s installed Dr. Callahan as their 5th Pastor on September 27, 2009.
A native of Gary, West Virginia, Dr. Callahan experienced her first Christian education and formation at Apostolic Temple Church where she developed an enduring love for Jesus Christ and for Christ’s body, the Church. Having experienced her call to ministry at an early age, Dr. Callahan began the public proclamation of the gospel at age 19.
Committed to education, Dr. Callahan earned the Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Harvard University/Radcliffe, the Master of Divinity from Union Theological
Seminary, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Religion from Princeton University. Her research interests include religious history in the United States, particularly independent African American Christianity and Pentecostal studies.
Dr. Callahan was ordained in 1997 at Judson Memorial Church and served as Minister of Christian Education at the First Baptist Church of Princeton, New Jersey. She also served as interim pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.
A gifted professor, Dr. Callahan, served on the faculty of New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) as Assistant Professor of Modern Church History and African American Studies. Prior to her time at NYTS, she was a member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania as assistant professor of religious studies.
Dr. Callahan currently serves as a Commissioner for the Philadelphia Housing Authority. She is also an active member of the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In addition to her ministry and scholarly pursuits, Dr. Callahan enjoys traveling, golfing, reading, movies, and sports.
Dr. Callahan’s written expressions and thoughts can be found on her blog, as well as in her published article in the The Audacity of Faith: Christian Leaders Reflect on the Election of Barack Obama by Marvin A. McMickle (Editor).
Dr. Callahan’s chief joy is being the proud mother of Annabelle Inez Callahan.
Dr. Callahan’s favorite scripture is Psalm 27:4: One thing have I desired of the LORD; that I shall seek: 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 seek God in God’s temple.