The Rev. C.W. “Chet” Andrews and his wife, Doris, are celebrating milestones this year.
It’s his 40th year as minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Spokane, an event the church will celebrate May 4 and 5.
It’s his 50th year in ministry.
It’s their 55th wedding anniversary.
It’s the 124th anniversary of Calvary, the oldest black church in Washington.
Through the good days and bad days, the Andrewses have weathered the years by respecting and loving each other, being at home the same people they are in the church and community.
“In many ways, we are opposites,” Doris Andrews said. “He wants to go out. I like to stay home. I like to shop, but he does not. We understand our differences and know each other well.”
She worked at Spokane Falls Community College from 1988 to 2008, coordinating continuing education and summer programs, and took some child development and general studies classes there, but mostly she has chosen to take care of the family and him.
“I still do it. I like taking care of the home,” she said.
“He needs a place to come to be away from the confusion of ministry and serving in the community,” she said. “Despite frustrations at work, he was able to come home and focus on the children.”
The Andrewses have five children, 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. With four children and their families living in Spokane, they often come home for dinner, with Doris Andrews doing all the cooking.
“Faith keeps me grounded, so I am calm about things. I tend to be quiet, and he does most of the talking,” she said.
At the church, she has also done tasks that keep Chet Andrews free to do the “work he is called to do.” Sometimes she is just there to answer the phone. She helped organize the 124th anniversary, served as vice president of the women’s ministry, and has been Christian education director.
Her family moved from New Orleans to Yakima when she was 5 for her mother to pursue employment.
Chet Andrews grew up near Selma, Ala., the youngest of 17 children of Jessie and Edna Andrews, who were sharecroppers. “Sharecropping was not for me, so after I graduated I went to Yakima in 1959 to visit my brother and work. I found different jobs and worked hard.”
Chet Andrews served seven years in the Army. He later embarked on a career with Western Electric.
In 1963, he became the assistant pastor at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Yakima, where the pastor mentored him.
While most of his learning to be a pastor was on-the-job training, he also studied at Selah Bible College while in Yakima.
The Andrews family moved to Spokane in 1971. They began attending Morning Star Baptist, and he worked with the Rev. Freeman Simmons until he came to Calvary Baptist in 1974, as interim minister. After seven months, he was called as pastor.
Chet Andrews has served on many committees and boards in Spokane and throughout the Northwest, including for the Spokane Human Services Department, the Spokane Police Department and the North Pacific Baptist Convention. He also served as assistant chaplain at Whitworth University.
He began studying at Whitworth when the school offered classes to African-American pastors after a January 1992 shooting at Calvary. The shooting happened while a group of Whitworth students was visiting the church. The adult son of a Whitworth professor fired shots from the balcony, hitting a wooden pew and the ceiling. Two people suffered minor injuries from flying debris. The man fatally shot himself outside the church.
Andrews and some others accepted Whitworth’s offer, and took classes there. In 1998, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity from Whitworth University.
For 14 years, he has been co-teaching a class on African-American preaching with Whitworth professor Ron Pyle.
“For me, God comes first, then family and then the church,” he said. “I can’t be effective in the church without caring for my family.
“I love and have compassion for people. I understand what they experience, because I’ve been in the hog pen,” Chet Andrews said. “I know what it means to find the path back to righteousness. I don’t look down on anyone. I extend my hand to anyone, to people of any color.”
Married 55 years, he believes taking the marriage vow before God is important.
“Growing up in a large family, I saw good times and bad times. It was an example for me. I knew the road would not always be easy. I believe we need to trust each other,” Andrews said. “God knows our hearts, so we can’t be a phony.
“I’m for real at home and in the community,” he said.
Andrews believes it’s important for couples to be kind to each other, to do simple things, like saying “good morning” and “good night,” and keeping each other informed of where they are.
“Love hides a multitude of faults,” he said, noting that the same dynamic is true in a church.
Many people have lost faith because someone in church leadership has blundered, he said.
Andrews finds that people today are less faithful and less respectful. Some feel anything goes, even in the church.
“People are peculiar. We love and we hate,” he said. “We need to pray for each other. We are the living epistles. We are the only Bible some people will see, so ministry comes in many forms to reach many lives.”