A fellowship of kindred minds. Est. 1951.
On June 14, 1951, a group of 55 Christians met at the Lakewood home of Dr. and Mrs. Winston Carswell intent on building a new Baptist church. There were 123 members in the original charter. Initially, Sunday morning services were held at the Wilshire Theater, then located at the corner of Skillman and Mockingbird. Huber Drumwright was called as Wilshire’s first pastor, and by 1952 the church had purchased a three-acre plot on Abrams Road just north of Mockingbird Lane. In July 1954 Wilshire’s first worship space, now McIver Chapel, was dedicated. Ralph Langley succeeded Drumwright as pastor, serving from 1955 to 1958.
In 1958 Wilshire called as its next pastor one of its own members, Bruce McIver. Wilshire made great advances during McIver’s 30-year tenure, growing in numbers and enlarging its facilities. The present Sanctuary opened in 1966, and education space was greatly expanded in 1982. Under McIver, Wilshire began to understand herself as a global citizen, partnering with churches abroad and expanding the reach of its global missions. McIver was named senior pastor emeritus upon his retirement in 1988.
A Church for Every Body
George Mason became Wilshire’s senior pastor in 1989. During Mason’s 33-year tenure, Wilshire grew into its identity as a progressive faith community, making a series of decisions that opened the church to new levels of inclusion and participation.
In 1991, Wilshire voted to allow women and divorced people to become deacons. In 2000, Wilshire officially cut ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in response to restrictiveness and fundamentalism at the national denominational level. With support for women clergy being a key issue, Wilshire helped start the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in 1991, and CBF remains our main denominational partner.
In 2012 Wilshire began recognizing other forms of Christian baptism when welcoming new members, and in 2015 the church voted for its bylaws to recognize a single class of membership. This would allow all members to be treated equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, with respect to leadership, ordination, baby dedications and marriage. Wilshire is a member congregation of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.
Pathways to the Future
Wilshire had long offered internships to ministerial students, and in 2002 the church expanded its commitment to training young clergy by establishing a two-year pastoral residency program for recent seminary graduates. Wilshire now counts over three dozen alumni of the program serving as senior pastors and in other ministry positions across the U.S. and beyond.
George Mason retired as Wilshire’s senior pastor in 2022 and, like his predecessor, was named senior pastor emeritus. Mason continues to direct Wilshire’s residency program, part of a larger initiative called Pathways to Ministry.
Timothy Peoples was a pastoral resident at Wilshire from 2015 to 2017. On Dec. 4, 2022, Wilshire called Peoples as senior pastor. He and his wife, Valerie Lott, came to Wilshire from High Point, North Carolina, where Timothy served for five years as pastor of Emerywood Baptist Church.