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SALT LAKE CITY — A section of Harvard Avenue that crosses Calvary Missionary Baptist Church is being renamed to honor a community leader and the church's longtime reverend who retired in 2019 after 46 years in that role.
The Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to rename the section of the street between State and Main streets, where the church is located, "Pastor France Davis Way" to honor Rev. France Davis.
"Pastor France Davis was and is still actively involved in community affairs, serving on numerous state and local boards. He provides counsel to community leaders and serves as a bridge builder to community entities. He's also a core commission member to the city's equity in policing," said Brian Fullmer, the constituent liaison and legislative project coordinator for Salt Lake City, in introducing the item on the city agenda.
Prior to the vote, Rev. Davis called into the online meeting to express his appreciation for the city deciding to honor him.
"It's a real honor to have a street named honorary in my name, so thank you. God bless," he said.
Rev. Davis, now 74, was born in Georgia and first came to Utah as a teaching fellow and University of Utah graduate student in 1972. Two years later, he became the interim pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church and the full-time pastor a year after that. He remained in the role up until his retirement in 2019. He also retired as a faculty member at the University of Utah in 2014 and served on the Utah State Board of Regents from 2009 to 2017.
Prior to moving to Utah, he participated in the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, which ultimately inspired his work in the ministry. Rev. Davis has remained active in the community since his retirement, too. For instance, Salt Lake City named him as a core member of the Commission on Racial Equity in Policing when it was created in June 2020 following protests over the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Salt Lake City's street rename is the latest honor for his life's work. The Utah Legislature passed a resolution last year honoring him for his service as a pastor, teacher and activist. Southern Utah University, in 2019, awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in public service; he also was named the University of Utah's commencement speaker that year. Weber State University also awarded him an honorary degree in 2018.
New signs reading "Pastor France Davis Way" will be installed at a later date not yet announced. During Tuesday's meeting, both Rev. Davis and Salt Lake City Council Chairwoman Amy Fowler requested that city employees let them know when the signs will be installed because they want to be there when it happens.