History of Mount Calvary
The history of Mount Calvary Baptist Church is a 137-year record of the tremendous struggles, phenomenal achievements, and Christian efforts of men, women, and children whose primary purpose was and continues to be the glorification of God. It is a chronicle that began with three men: Rev. Charlie Dunn, Bro. John Easley, and Bro. Samuel Lumpkin, who founded the Mount Calvary Baptist Church on the second Sunday in September, 1881.
Rev. Dunn became the first pastor and served in that capacity during the thirty-two years prior to his death. During those tough but successful times, the church building was located on the corner of Augusta Ave. and Poplar St. but collapsed in a terrible winter storm in 1900. Under Rev. Dunn's leadership, the church moved to Wrightsboro Rd. and Chestnut St. It grew both spiritually and financially: 118 members were baptized, many others joined by Christian experience and watch care. Sixteen deacons were also ordained.
After Rev. Dunn's death, several ministers led the congregation for relatively short periods. From 1913 to 1915, Rev. Jack Lawson served as pastor. In 1916, Rev. Kit Jones took the reins. During his tenure, the old church building was torn down and a new one was erected. Ten people joined the church and one deacon was ordained. In 1919, Rev. Elmore succeeded Rev. Jones, serving for only six months. In 1920, Rev. E. A. Moss, a great spiritual singer and gospel preacher, became the next pastor. Under his pastorate, the congregation grew to the point of requiring a new church building. During his six years as pastor, plans were set in motion to build a larger church, and funds were raised for this purpose. Rev. Moss resigned in 1926. On February 11, 1927, Rev. Norris Walker was called to pastor the church. During his one-year administration, the church was again destroyed (this time by fire) and was rebuilt with the proceeds raised earlier by Rev. Moss.
On July 17,1928, Dr. Lorenza Dowell, Chairman of the Board of Deacons, requested a called meeting of the church and asked for another pastor. Rev. Moss readily accepted and returned to Mount Calvary. Rev. Moss made his most distinctive mark between 1926 and 1957. During these years, representing nearly a 37-year pastorate, tremendous progress occurred. Many clubs and organizations were revitalized, including the following: Sunday School, BTU, Junior Mission, Sunbeam Circle, Senior Savings Club, Junior Savings Club, Junior Chorus, Young People's Chorus, Senior Choir, Usher and Usherette Board, CYA Board (now the CPA Club), Club #1, Club #3, Club #4, Club #8, Deaconess Board, Senior Mission, and a Deacon Board of 20 members.
Under the leadership of Rev. Moss, the church building was remodeled several times from wood to stucco and from stucco to brick. A balcony was also constructed. The church also purchased a new heating system, pews, a Hammond organ, electric fans, and a pulpit suite (bought by the Usher Board and Club #1). One of Rev. Moss's greatest dreams was to construct an annex to the church building, which would include an auditorium, Sunday School rooms, and a kitchen. Rev. Moss did not live to see his dream realized; however, the Board of Deacons and newly-organized Trustee Board completed the job. On Sunday, January 19, 1958, the E.A. Moss Education Building was dedicated.
On April 4, 1958, Rev. Boyd B. Cantrell was called to pastor the church. He served for two years, 1958-1960. Prior to his resignation, Rev. Cantrell facilitated many changes and improvements. Among them were: redecorating the entire church and installing water fountains in the E.A. Moss Annex.
Rev. F. H. Hart, another great leader, assumed the pastorate on October 6, 1961. The church made significant advancements during his pastorate. Over 275 members joined the ranks. In addition to the aforementioned organizations, the following were added: Parents Council, YWA (a missionary group), and the F.H. Hart Male Chorus. The Boy Scouts organization was reinstated. Thousands of dollars were raised, and the debt for redecorating the church was paid off. The church office obtained a new typewriter and mimeograph machine. The main sanctuary was recarpeted, and the pastor's study was refurnished.
The church also purchased baptismal robes and Baptist Standard Hymnals. The mid-sixties brought other physical changes: installation of a new air conditioning/heating system (Jan. 1964); new floor covering in the main sanctuary, the pastor's study, and the E.A. Moss Annex (1965); air conditioning for the E.A. Moss Annex and the purchase of Chestnut St. property (1967). Rev. Hart served faithfully until his death on June 3, 1972.
On January 17, 1973, Rev. Clyde Hill, Sr. was called as Pastor and was installed April 8, 1973. He immediately began to shape an active evangelistic agenda that has become the heart of his ministry concerned about Christian education and outreach. Many organizations and programs have assisted Rev. Hill in carrying out the church's mission. Among them are: the Clara B. Williams Circle, New Member Orientation, a new Church Study Program, and Tuesday Night Bible Study. In 1981, the Pastor's Aid Council on Evangelism (PACE), consisting of three members from each church group, was formed with the purpose of offering exemplary leadership for the church as it strives to reach the unsaved and backslidden. In 1984, a Ministry to the Elderly became a medium through which the church could work for and with senior citizens to ensure their well being and their continued involvement in the church and the community. Mount Calvary also became a lifetime member of the NAACP, representing the church's commitment to social justice.
Rev. Hill's far-reaching efforts prompted phenomenal growth in membership from 1973 to 1985. The church's membership increased from approximately 750 to 2,000, resulting in the need for two Sunday Morning Services. A larger congregation necessitated other physical improvements and the implementation of systematic business practices as well. Consequently, Rev. Hill initiated a financial envelope record system and started the Birthmonth Building Clubs. The Pastor's Cabinet, consisting of the president and one representative from each organization, began work with a mission to plan, coordinate, and evaluate all church programs. To optimize efficiency, two rooms were remodeled for the pastor's and secretary's offices. Additionally, a church bulletin folding machine and two IBM Selectric typewriters (1977) improved production.
Several ministers and deacons have been ordained and licensed under Rev. Hill's leadership providing Rev. Hill and Mount Calvary with "sons and daughters of the house." The ordained ministers are: Rev. Johnny Bussey, Rev. Robert Huff, Rev. Roy Huff, Rev. Albert Smith, Rev. Antonio Smith, Rev. Archie Waltower, and Rev. Eugene Waltower. The licensed ministers are: Bro. Thomas H. Barnes, Min. Darryl Nettles, Min. Christopher Leslie, Min. Sarah Jennings, Min. Mary L. Sullivan, Min. Norman Hill, Min. Victor Simmons and Min. Shirley Norman. Rev. Hill formed the Ministerial Alliance to afford the ministers an opportunity to receive ministerial guidance. The first seven ordained deacons were: Levin Ashby, Jessie Gray, Clinton Green, Charlie P. Jenkins, Horace McGahee, Hayes Samuels, and Coleston Wilson. Their sacred ordination ceremonies were held on August 31, 1975. Ten years later, twelve additional deacons were ordained. They were: Willie Bates, Frank Brinson, Ozell Freeman, Freddie Handy, Sr., Eddie Hardy, Ernest James, Charles Jennings, Charles July, John Morris, Samuel Smith, Edwin Wilson, and Robert Wilson. Sacred ordination ceremonies were conducted for these chosen twelve on September 8, 1985.
The church bought additional properties: a lot on Turpin St. where the new church parsonage was erected in 1973 and dedicated in 1974, three houses on Wrightsboro Rd. (1975), four lots (1978), Mill St. property (1981), and additional Wrightsboro Rd. property (1982). On September 18, 1980, the new church model was unveiled and on September 14, 1984, the church broke ground for its new 23,500 sq. ft. structure. On February 23, 1986, Rev. Hill's dream of a new church was realized when he led hundreds of members and well-wishers from the old church to the new one at 1260 Wrightsboro Rd. The Grand Opening Service was aired on WKZK radio station and included a sermon by Rev. Hill entitled "The Door Is Open." Rev. Cameron Alexander, pastor of the Antioch Baptist Church, North Atlanta, GA, conducted the official dedicatory service on March 2, 1986.
The new church afforded the congregation many benefits and improvements. It included an equipped First Aid Room, a Nursery, and the Silas Norman, Sr. Memorial Library (dedicated Sept. 21, 1986). The Summer Youth program began in 1986, providing Christian education and remedial academic assistance under the direction of Sis. Rena Brown and Sis. Rosa Roberson. A Medical Unit Ministry, directed by Sis. Mozella Fryer, R.N.C. and consisting of members in medical and other allied health fields, was organized. The church also purchased a new folding machine, Paymaster Checkwriter, a burglar alarm system, a Mita copy machine, pager service and car phone to provide the pastor more accessibility to the members, new library materials, and audio-visual aids for the library. The church furnished the lobby with benches in 1986 and 1987 and bought new properties on Mill St. and Wrightsboro Rd.
In 1988, three innovative stewardship efforts were launched. To effect a change in the spiritual lives of the unreached, a Radio Broadcast Outreach Ministry began in February; it was aired on WKZK. In March, the church sponsored the Mount Calvary Institute of Christian Education, which was led by Dr. Van J. Malone. A Tape Ministry began in April and three new groups were formed: the Stewardship Department, the Photography Ministry, and the Parking Courtesy Ministry.
The church made additional purchases to enhance upkeep and efficiency. These purchases included: carpet and shampoo machines, a postage meter and sealer machine, a Compac computer, two printers, software, and a calculator for the Finance Room. Other purchases included a new security system, new bulletin covers and welcome cards, carpet for the new computer room, and folding tables for the Activity Room.
In 1989 and 1990, many developments, events, and purchases marked the church's continued progress. The Mount Calvary Scholarship Fund was established, emphasizing the church's awareness of the importance of quality education. In May of 1990, Rev. Hill instituted the Soul Winning Society Circle, consisting of 13 extensive sessions designed to equip Christians to be more effective in winning souls for Christ. A total of 35 members graduated from the first workshop, and 31 graduated from the second workshop. Currently, the "forever widening circle" has produced 156 Discipleship II graduates, 414 Discipleship I graduates, and 35 youth participants. On June 27, 1990, the church purchased a food store and held the Grand Opening Celebration of the Calvary Community Food Store on July 27, 1990. Two additional parking lots were paved, a lawn mower was purchased, and the first combined anniversary celebration of all clubs was held on July 15, 1990.
In 1991, many improvements and events occurred, including additional paving of the Calvary Community Food Store's parking lot and the purchase of a 60-pocket mail sorter to provide mail boxes for each organization. The church's first "China" Christmas Banquet was held on Dec. 14, 1991, creating Christian fellowship in a formal and elegant atmosphere.
Mount Calvary continues to prosper. The church purchased property at 1422 Mill Street. After a conscientious decision to close the Calvary Community Food Store in 1992, the Abundant Life Ministry (now the Community Crisis Outreach Ministry) was established for continued community outreach. In 1994, the church began an additional broadcast of the Sunday Worship Service on WKIM, 1230 AM. In 1995, Rev. Hill dedicated 100 new pew bibles that were donated by the E.A. Moss Gospel Choir commemorating its 44th anniversary. The first issue of Calvary's Torch, a church newsletter, was published in 1996. Purchases during 1997-98 included: an NEC computer, printer and monitor; a new sound system for the sanctuary, office equipment, and a 1997 Savana van. A church marquee was installed in 1999, and renovations to the front exterior of the church were made. The church also purchased property at 1427 Chestnut St., an Ascom Hasler Smart Series postage machine, and office materials and equipment. In addition to these purchases, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Mason donated property located at 1415 Forest St. to the church.
Under Rev. Hill's visionary leadership, the church has continued to improve the lives of its membership and beyond. The Employment Ministry, which assists members and nonmembers in locating employment opportunities, and Christmas for the Masses, through which food, toys, clothing, and monetary donations are provided for the needy, were instituted. The College and Career Ministry and the Technology Ministry were organized. To enhance efficiency, the church purchased and installed a computer networking system, new office furniture, including an electric typewriter and a Savin copier. During 1998-99, the Public Relations Ministry and the Transportation Ministry were organized. During 2003-2004, the roof of the church and ceiling tile were replaced and property at 1244 Wrightsboro Road was purchased for additional parking. During 2004-2005, property was donated to the church by Sis. Mattie Lawson at 1433 Chestnut Street, the Secretary's office was renamed "Lillie Mae Davis Administrative Office" in memory of our former Church Clerk, and furniture was purchased for the foyer to enhance the beauty of our church. Also formed was the Recovery Ministry, Volunteer Ministry, Caregivers Ministry, and the G.R.A.C.E. Dance Ministry. During 2006-2007, the church renamed and dedicated the Church Nursery to the Corrie W. Eason Memorial Nursery, dedicated the Computer Technology Lab, purchased property on 1427 Mill Street, organized the Extended Enlightened Elders Ministry and installed new microphones in the choir stand. On Sunday, September 10, 2006, the Activity Room was renamed "PAULINE LEWIS MEMORIAL ACTIVITY ROOM" in memory of our former chairperson of the Kitchen Ministry. A 2007 GMC Savana van was also purchased and a dedicatory service was held on Sunday, September 17, 2006. During 2007-2008, the following ministries were formed: Minister Mentoring Males (M3) and the Academy for Prospective Deacons. In addition, property was purchased at 1421 Mill Street and an ice machine was purchased for the kitchen. In 2010 a Presidio telephone system and a Savin C5050 copier was purchased, and other general repairs were performed on the church and at the old church (1252 Wrightsboro Road). In 2011 dedication of Mount Calvary Baptist Church Rose & Flower Garden (May 5, 2011), a new air conditioning unit was purchased for the Church, and a trip was planned to Washington, D.C. for the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial scheduled for August 28, 2011. Due to Hurricane Irene, the trip was delayed. On Sunday, September 4, 2011, Sacred Ordination/Consecration Services was held for thirteen additional deacons. They were Robert A. Brown, III, John H. Cullars, James W. Goodwin, Sr., Moses Holmes, II, McArthur Jennings, Calvin A. Padgett, Ricky Pollard, Herman Richards, Jr., Akenga J. Smith, Earl Smith, Nathaniel Williams, Charles Wilson and James L. Wilson.
Mount Calvary's past is glorious; its present is noteworthy; its future is challenging. As God's will, Mount Calvary is destined for more dynamic years under Rev. Dr. Clyde Hill, Sr.'s visionary leadership. "It does not yet appear what Mount Calvary shall become as we continue to "Go, Teach, Baptize, and Disciple."