Cover photo for Rev. Dr. James L. Brewer-Calvert's Obituary
Rev. Dr. James L. Brewer-Calvert Profile Photo
1960 Rev. Dr. James 2023

Rev. Dr. James L. Brewer-Calvert

February 10, 1960 — July 18, 2023

Rev. Dr. James L. Brewer-Calvert

February 10, 1960 - July 18, 2023


Rev. Dr. James L. Brewer-Calvert, champion for justice, builder of community, pastor, wordsmith, sports fan, clown, family man, and friend died on Tuesday, July 18, 2023, after a long and valiant battle with cancer. James was a city kid, loving the vibrant energy, diversity of people, and variety of art, culture, and cuisine of urban living. At the same time, he enjoyed the outdoors, particularly running and camping.


James Lincoln Calvert was born in New York City, the youngest of four boys, to Elizabeth (Buffy) and George Calvert. His parents were urban missionaries, starting and sustaining multi-ethnic congregations committed to embodying the social gospel of Jesus Christ. A preacher's kid, shaped by the inclusive mission and ministry of the Church of the Living Hope in East Harlem, James went on to become a pastor himself. He was valedictorian of Park East High School class of 1977 in NYC. Before college, he spent a formative year at Maine Reach, a program of outdoor education and sustainability of the Chewonki Foundation. He majored in Urban Economics with a minor in Theater at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, graduating in 1982. That fall, he entered the Master of Divinity program at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, graduating in 1985. In December 1985, he married Rev. Betty Brewer with whom he had fallen in love during seminary. They combined their names and their lives, enjoying 37-1/2 years of marriage and raising two children and multiple Labrador retrievers and feline friends. Rev. Brewer-Calvert received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky in 2006.


In the summer of 1978, he attended clown school, learning to juggle, perform mime, ride a unicycle, swallow fire, and make balloon sculptures. Some of these skills were carried forward and shared throughout the years, though his wife drew the line at swallowing fire. At 18, he traveled around New England performing in a 2-man troupe called "The I Don't Believe It Players." This experience set the stage for many years of drama in the pulpit, writing original Christmas pageants, entertaining children with balloon animals and other antics as his clown character "Silly Daddy," and keeping his family and friends laughing. His joy was contagious.


Rev. Brewer-Calvert was Associate Pastor of Church of the Living Hope in New York City (1985-88), Minister for Nurture and Witness at East Dallas Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Dallas, TX (1988-92), Pastor at Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Jackson, TN (1992-98), and Senior Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Decatur, GA (1998-2023). He pastored the Decatur congregation for over 25 years, serving alongside God's people with joy, energy, commitment, creativity, and an inclusive spirit. He mentored many seminarians and young ministers, sharing his love for preaching, teaching, and community service. His leadership with the Commission on Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Georgia showed his unwavering commitment to mentoring. He loved spending time at church camp as a counselor, director, and keynoter and was well-loved by the youth of the Region.


He was active in the Decatur Rotary Club, the Decatur Affordable Housing Task Force, and the Ponce de Leon Heights neighborhood. He was proclaimed a Hometown Hero in 2016; and in March 2023, Mayor Patricia Garrett declared "James Brewer-Calvert Day" in honor of his 25 years of service to First Christian Church and the City of Decatur. James could often be found at the Decatur Square or other venues using his presence and voice for justice. He was an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and for anti-racist endeavors, always seeking to build God's Beloved Community. He was instrumental in organizing 9-11 remembrances, hosting an interfaith gathering on the first anniversary and on other significant anniversaries. James was a driving force, working with the church and community, in the creation of the neighborhood-transforming Decatur Toy Park. He was known throughout Decatur for his outgoing, giving, and inclusive nature. He enjoyed walking from the church to the Rotary Club on Fridays so he could greet people along the way.


James is survived by his wife, the Rev. Betty C. Brewer-Calvert; son and daughter-in-love (as he called in-laws), the Revs. Henry and Anna Brewer-Calvert; daughter, Katie Brewer-Calvert; mother, Elizabeth (Buffy) Stuart Calvert, Esq.; father-in-love, the Rev. Donald C. Brewer; brothers and sisters-in-love David Calvert and Theresa Kilbane, Jonathan Calvert and Margaret Bald, and Peter Calvert and Suzanne Fortin; God-sister, Stephanie Navas and her husband, Junior; brother-in-love Robert Brewer and his wife, Stacey; sister-in-love Ann Riza and her husband, Shane Riza, Colonel, USAF (ret.); seven nieces, five nephews, and nine great-nieces and nephews; beloved friend and family member Maggie Quiñones; and a wealth of other family and friends. A grandson to be born in October will be introduced to the grandpa who loved him before he was born.


Rev. Brewer-Calvert was predeceased by his father, the Rev. George Calvert; his sister, Carol Marie Calvert; and his mother-in-love, Nancy S. Brewer.


A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, August 5 at 2:00 p.m. First Baptist Church of Decatur (308 Clairemont Avenue, Decatur GA 30030) is generously hosting on behalf of First Christian Church of Decatur.


Gifts in memory of Rev. Brewer-Calvert may be made to First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Decatur, 601 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030, https://www.decaturdisciples.org/; Camp Christian Conference Center c/o The Christian Church in Georgia, 2306 Vineville Ave. Ste. B, Macon, GA 31204, https://www.gadisciples.org/give; Decatur Cooperative Ministries, P.O. Box 457, Decatur, GA 30031, https://www.decaturcooperativeministry.org/dcm/donate/; Week of Compassion, P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206, https://www.weekofcompassion.org/give.html; or the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104, https://www.splcenter.org/support-us.








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Service Schedule

Past Services

Family Hosted Memorial Service

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

First Baptist Church of Decatur

308 Clairemont Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030

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