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Reverend Lia Claire Scholl has been named Senior Pastor at Wake Forest Baptist Church.

Reverend Lia Claire Scholl has been named Senior Pastor at Wake Forest Baptist Church.

Lia Scholl

Lia Scholl

Scholl most recently served as Pastor at the Gateway Community Church in Bali, Indonesia. She also served as Senior Pastor of the Richmond Mennonite Fellowship in Richmond, Va., the Minister for Congregational Development at Ravensworth Baptist Church in Annandale, Va., and the Minister of Education at Southside Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

In every church, Alabama to Bali, Lia led the congregation in spiritual and membership growth. Carolyn Shields, who grew up in our church and is now a member at Ravensworth, said: “She did a wonderful job of attracting new members of all walks of life—including LGBT, whom she really made feel at home in the church. She brought many new, especially younger, people into the church.” Lia holds the BA and MDiv from Samford University. Lia Scholl leading prayer in Bali, Indonesia

Authorship: Two books published by Chalice Press, who also published our hymnal.
Advent Devotional: Partners in Prayer (2011), a look at all the ways that incarnation can become real in the daily lives of individuals; and

I Heart Sex Workers: a Christian Response to People in the Sex Trade (2013). This book arose from Lia’s earlier volunteer work as founder and director of Starlight Ministries from 2001-2009, as described on NPR:

References: All, whether listed by her or discovered by us, were unreservedly highly enthusiastic.

Amy Butler, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and newly called as senior pastor of Riverside Church in New York City: She does not have a single issue that she wants to address from the pulpit, except the Gospel. . . wants to use the pulpit to inspire and lead a loving community. . . wise, mature, easily accessible and intuitive; my finest colleague in ministry.

Rebecca Ben-Gideon, rabbi in Fairfax, Va: She is my Bible study partner, as in Jewish tradition. . . I feel like Lia is my pastor. I can imagine her connecting with students where they are such as in a coffee house on campus. . . Lia could grow the church by being so attractive to people she meets.

What Lia Told Us: Before a church can grow, its members must love each other. I would look forward to walking beside you in the journey. And I hope this is my last congregation until retirement! (Lia is 46).


Wake Forest Baptist Church was organized in 1956 when Wake Forest College moved from Wake Forest, North Carolina, to Winston-Salem, thereby perpetuating a 125-year-old tradition of having a Baptist church at the center of the campus. Since that time, Wake Forest Baptist Church has maintained a unique relationship with the university.

Though it operates as an autonomous congregation — electing its ministers, raising its budget, conducting its business and operating its programs — the church is housed in Wingate Hall, which also houses the Wake Forest School of Divinity and the Department of Religion.   The congregation worships in Wait Chapel, the university’s largest auditorium. Students from the School of Divinity have preached frequently and powerfully in the church.

When the church was founded, many of the members of the student body, faculty and administration were Baptist. Over the years the percentage of Baptists on campus has decreased significantly, and the church has looked increasingly to the community for its membership. Currently, Wake Forest Baptist Church has approximately 230 members and active friends, most of them from the community. As in many churches, however, attendance is less than the enrolled membership. The church is increasingly ecumenical, while still endorsing and practicing historic Baptist principles, freedoms, and traditions.

Local Missions:

Wake Forest Baptist Church has been an innovator in local ministry. In 1962, two members were instrumental in founding the Winston-Salem Meals on Wheels ministry; several members were among the first group of servers. In the late 1960s the church helped establish the Association for the Benefit of Child Development, now called Imprints for Families. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the church conducted a kindergarten class for children with learning challenges.

Also during the 1990’s members founded a special mission group that provided home-cooked meals (cooked by members) to the AIDS care service. In 1998 a member founded and has since served as volunteer executive director of the Health and Wellness Clinic of the Triad Region—a monthly clinic for indigent patients. In 2002, a member cofounded and continues to serve as executive director of Authoring Action, which stimulates youth across the socioeconomic spectrum in developing their writing and speaking prowess.   Also in 2002, members played a leading role in establishing C.H.A.N.G.E., a grassroots organization involving faith communities and neighborhood associations. In 2010, a member helped develop and is medical director of the Child Advocacy Center in an adjoining county; on referral from various agencies, it serves abused children. One member has very recently founded One to One Women Coaching Women, to assist single women and women veterans.

Racial Justice:

The ministers and members have been unafraid to confront controversial issues. In 1962, the church declared its membership open to all races—two months prior to the university trustees’ decision to admit non-white undergraduate students. In 1994, the church was presented the Whitney M. Young Award for “bridging the gaps in race relations” by the Winston-Salem Urban League. A year later the United Way of Forsyth County presented a special award to Wake Forest Baptist Church and its partner, First Baptist Church of Highland Avenue, for building “a better community through a variety of joint undertakings.”

Throughout the late 1980’s, 1990’s, and early 2000’s members worked on behalf Darryl Hunt, a 19 year old African American who was convicted of the brutal murder of a young white woman. The work ultimately resulted in his full exoneration and release from 19 years of wrongful imprisonment. One member who was active in the campaign for Hunt’s vindication wrote a widely acclaimed book about that long struggle for justice and faith.

Welcoming and Affirming:

In 2000, a same sex covenant service between two members of the church was celebrated in Wait Chapel, though it was not endorsed by the university. Because of its inclusive stand regarding the role of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons in the church, Wake Forest Baptist Church was removed from membership in the Pilot Mountain Baptist Association and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina; the church voluntarily left the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2005, the church received the Kaleidoscope Faith Community Award by PFLAG of Winston-Salem. From January 2011 to mid-2013, Wake Forest Baptist Church was probably unique among Baptist churches—at least in the USA–in having two lesbian senior pastors.


The church has found a home in the Alliance of Baptists and continues to offer a vibrant witness to Jesus Christ.


The church aspires to be welcoming and affirming of all people; to be intentional in missions to the physical and spiritual needs of all people; and to be examples of and witnesses to the grace of God revealed in Jesus Christ.


Historically, WFBC has specifically endorsed policies of racial and sexual-orientation diversity in its membership, and it aspires to a membership that is ethnically, culturally, and educationally diverse. There is a wide range of ages and occupations in the membership. Many non-member friends of the church are also active in contributing their time, talents, and money.

Finances and Facilities:

The church has an investment portfolio that earns dividends; and the church is debt free. Like all churches, its challenge is to raise its annual budget through pledges, offerings, and gifts. It meets on the campus of Wake Forest University in Wait Chapel, which seats over 2000. The church is provided nursery space, children’s classrooms and youth rooms; adult Sunday School classes meet in university classrooms. The church does not incur costs for building maintenance.


In 2013 the church gave over $16,000 for budgeted global, national, and local mission work—including 9 local charities and organizations that serve persons in need. An additional $6,400 bequest was fully spent for assistance to children in need. Donations to the Hunger Fund (food, personal care items, and cash) have grown steadily and impressively in the past year and a half. These donations are collected each first Sunday of the month during the Lord’s Supper, at the Table. Individual members have organized, and worked time for many local medical, social, and justice projects. Members have also advocated for social justice in a variety of public demonstrations. (See the summary in the history page).

Educational Programs:

Adult classes have had varied emphases, including: biblical studies; studies on the historical Jesus; an ongoing study of the Quran, Islam, Judaism, and Middle Eastern conflicts; an LGBT spirituality group; a transgender support group; studies of grief; and studies on respectful communication with persons of different sexual orientation. Classes for children are focused on lectionary texts, and the church takes a leadership role in a children’s interfaith study program in the summer, collaborating with Temple Emanuel and the Community Mosque. There is also a strong special needs class, reflecting a long standing commitment of the church.

Board of Deacons and Committees:

The board of deacons meets monthly to consider the church’s spiritual and programmatic needs and to make appropriate recommendations to the church. Active committees of the church include personnel, finance, missions, outreach and student ministry, senior adult ministry, family support, education, and music and worship. Actions by these groups require approval by the congregation. Under the leadership of the deacons, the church has increasingly perceived itself as congregation-directed–not pastor-directed, deacon-directed, or committee-directed.


Under the leadership of the former pastor for preaching and worship, Sunday services included significant innovations in a variety of artistic media such as painting, dance, multicultural and multilingual music, international services, and extensive expressions of hospitality during the worship service. In the current interim, some of these innovations are less common than before, but all of them are welcomed in collaboration with the worship leadership on given Sundays.


The church has a sense of unity and openness to diverse points of view, as expressed not only in worship and education programs but also in hospitality receptions following worship, weekly and monthly evening meals, monthly men’s and women’s fellowship, etc. Prior to the formation of the pastoral search committee, the church held a series of frank discussions about its future. It was well attended, with full and open dialogue: members have increasingly seen themselves as personally responsible for the future well-being of the church.


Notwithstanding its commitment to inclusiveness, members are self-consciously still learning how to be fully respectful and considerate of all people. New students, faculty, and community residents require renewed efforts at outreach. Ongoing economic, technological, political, and social changes in the community and world present new demands for the church’s prophetic and healing ministry. Growth—in membership, worship, missions, education, and finances—is a continuing goal.

Pastor Needed

Wake Forest Baptist Church, a progressive Christian community located on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, seeks a dynamic full-time ordained pastor with a Master of Divinity or equivalent and with full-time pastoral experience. As a multi-generational, multi-cultural congregation of over 200 members and friends, we value prophetic worship, thoughtful religious education, social justice, peacemaking, and welcoming and affirming of all people.

Applicants need to possess demonstrated skills and strengths in the various demands of pastoral ministry: preaching, worship leadership, outreach, pastoral care, and administration. Compensation will be commensurate with qualifications.

Please submit by March 30, 2014 a cover letter, résumé with references, and your recent sermon in both hard copy and video.

How to submit:
A. To an email addressed to with “Pastor Search” in the Subject line, attach the following (use PDF file format):
1. Cover letter
2. Résumé with references
3. Written copy of your recent sermon (not older than 6 months).

In the body of your email, include a link to a video of your attached sermon using one of the following methods:
1. A link to your video in a Dropbox account: OR
2. A YouTube link:

B. By US Mail:
P. O. Box 7326
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7326
Attn: Pastor Search

We will maintain strict confidentiality.

Alliance of Baptists
The Alliance is a group of individuals and churches dedicated to the preservation of historic Baptist principles, freedoms, and traditions, and to the expression of our ministry and mission through cooperative relationships with other Baptist bodies and the larger Christian community.

Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
The AWAB is a group of churches, organizations and individuals who are willing to go on record as welcoming and affirming all persons, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity, and who have joined together to advocate for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons within Baptist communities of faith.

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
The CBF is a group of Baptist churches and individuals who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

Pastor Lia Scholl has worked in the trenches of ministry: with sex workers, drug users, and women exiting prison. She is the author of I Heart Sex Workers (Chalice Press, 2013). Her most recent pastorate was serving at Gateway Community Church in Bali, Indonesia. Prior to that, she was the pastor of the Richmond Mennonite Fellowship in Richmond, Virginia. Lia is originally from Alabama and loves running and dark chocolate.

LINDA ENGLE – Financial Administrator
Linda Engle is our Financial Administrator, and given that she has worked here since 1986, she’s the person to speak with about all things financial at WFBC. When Linda isn’t keeping the rest of the staff (particularly the ministers) out of financial trouble, she enjoys spending time with her three granddaughters.

WOODSON FAULKNER, II – Choir Director/Organist
Woody Faulkner has been our Choir Director/Organist since May of 2007. Founding conductor of the Triad Pride Men’s Chorus in 1998, he served in this position until January of 2013. Woody is currently on the voice faculty of the Music Academy of NC, and is also Asst. Director/Vocal Coach for the Burlington Boy Choir. He is a graduate of Greensboro College with a Bachelor of Music degree. Woody has also pursued advanced study in choral conducting and voice training at UNCG. He also holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Duke University.

LINDSEY MULLEN – Children and Youth Ministry Director
Lindsey Mullen moved to Winston Salem from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she studied Social Justice at the University of Alabama. She is currently working on a Master of Divinity from Wake Forest School of Divinity, with a special interest in ecofeminist theology. Lindsey loves craft projects, playing outside, and creating her own vegetarian recipes. She is an aspiring birth doula and an amateur herbalist. She lives in Winston with her partner, Erica, and their pets Callie and Jezebel.

DON ROBERSON – Administrative Assistant
Don Roberson is our Administrative Assistant, which means he is really the person who keeps the church running. Don has an undergraduate degree from WFU, a Master of Social Work degree from UNC, and worked as a social worker for many years before retiring – and then coming to work for us! If you really want to know what’s going on at WFBC, Don is the person to talk to.