Calvary Baptist Church began new leadership era with the arrival of its new senior pastor, Bishop W. James Thomas II.

Thomas was appointed after a yearlong search by the church’s search committee. Thomas succeeds the leadership of the late Apostle Richard M. Avant, who served 34 years as the Calvary Baptist senior pastor until his passing April 1, 2016.

Thomas began the latest chapter in his ministerial career Oct. 22 when he gave his first sermon as the pastor. His inaugural message was titled “Let’s Do Something Different,” using a scriptural foundation from John 5:1-8.

Calvary Baptist will hold its installation services at 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Dec. 10 at Calvary Baptist Church, 410 Fulton St., Dover.

Prior to his arrival, Thomas served as the 23-year senior pastor of Shiloh Church of Memphis. During that tenure, he was appointed the district overseer of the West Tennessee Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship by Presiding Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr., serving in that leadership post until January 2008.

It was also during his Shiloh Church ministerial tenure that he was consecrated as bishop. He is currently a member in good standing of the Joint College of African American Bishops. Prior to his Shiloh Church years, he served from 1991 to 1994 as the Children’s Church Pastor at the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Memphis.

He began his vocational ministry career at age 18 as the senior pastor at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, his city of birth.

Thomas has a Bachelor of Science in biblical studies, cum laude, from Crichton College, now Victory University, in Memphis, Tennessee; and a Master of Divinity in church administration, magna cum laude; and Doctor of Ministry in theology and arts from Memphis Theological Seminary.