Directly before being elected Baxter spent two and a half years serving as the rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A third generation clergyman, he was dean of Washington National Cathedral from 1991 to 2003 and served as Chief Administrative Officer of the Protestant Episcopal Church Foundation. Before becoming dean of the of Cathedral, Baxter served as the administrative dean and associate professor of Pastoral Theology and Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, seminary dean and associate professor of Church and Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and chaplain and professor of Religious Studies at St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia. Baxter has also served at other parishes in Pa and Va.
Baxter, a Harrisburg native, he is the oldest of three sons (Rev Charles Wayne Baxter and Larry Baxter) to the Late Elder Belgium N. Baxter and Augusta Baxter.
He is married to Mary Ellen Baxter (Walker), an educator with degrees from Hampton University and Haravard University. They have two children David and Timika Baxter, and two foster children, John Harmon and Thadbrean Dowling. They also have 9 grandchildren: Joshua Harmon, Jerena Harmon, and Justin Harmon (John); Shaquan Dowling, Zaire Dowling, Malachi Dowling, and Zion Dowling (Thadbrean); and Tyler Tyson and Geoff Trotter (Timika).
He graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1976 with honors and prizes in homiletics and Christology and earned a Doctor of Ministry there in 1985. Baxter has also completed programs at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Warren Deem Management Institute at the Columbia University Executive Center. Baxter has received numerous other honors from colleges, universities and seminaries including being named an honorary alumnus at the Episcopal Divinity School 1991, and receiving eight honorary doctorates [Dickinson College, Messiah College, Colgate University, St. Paul's College, York College, Eliszabethtown College, Ohio Dominican University, Lincoln University]and the Presidential Medal from Millersville University.
Baxter is an associate of the Order of the Holy Cross, chaplain of the Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Other Memberships include Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the Cosmos Club of Washington, and a life member of the Union of Black Episcopalians and the NAACP. He is also a decorated U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, having received the Vietnam Cross of Gallenty with Palm and the Combat Medic's Badge.
He was selected to deliver the prayer for the nation at the White House Millennium Celebration, which was televised internationally. He was acknowledge by Mrs. Nancy Regan for his leadership in planning the Funeral of President Ronald Regan.