Calvary Baptist Church celebrating 75th anniversary

Argen Duncan

After two mission churches, three meeting places and more than 20 pastors, Calvary Baptist Church in Portales is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

The church was organized on Aug. 4, 1935, with 58 charter members.

The congregation is holding an anniversary celebration Oct. 3. Plans for the day include a chuck wagon breakfast and lunch, a time for songs and testimonies about the church and a certificate presentation by a representative of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

“For me, one of the amazing things about the church is I have six members who have been here over 60 years, as members,” said pastor Brad Morgan.

Aileen McAlister, who’s been attending Calvary since she was an infant, said the church’s stability and work in the community stand out to her. She said the Bible has always been taught there, and “the method may change but never the message.”

McAlister was married in Calvary’s first building at Fourth Street and Avenue D in 1962, raised her family in the church and had the congregation’s support through the death of two husbands.

“They’ve just always been there for me,” she said.

Anna Wheat, who came to Calvary in 2004, said many of the founding members came from First Baptist Church. Morgan said the record doesn’t indicate any hard feelings on the part of the charter members.

“It just simply states they had a heart and a vision to start a new ministry, and that’s how Calvary was birthed,” he said.

The congregation first met in a former steam laundry facility, now C&S Fuel Center, and then moved to the building on Fourth and Avenue D.

Emmanuel Baptist Church and First Spanish Baptist Church began as missions of Calvary, Morgan said. Emmanuel started in 1945 as East Benson Mission, and First Spanish Baptist opened sometime between 1948 and 1952.

The groundbreaking for Calvary’s current location on 18th Street across from Rotary Park, took place in 1963. Morgan said the congregation needed more room.

The old church building is now a private home, Wheat said.

Calvary’s membership has fluctuated, with more than 1,000 members in the 1940s, down to 30 or less a few years ago.

Now, the church has 193 members who have attended within the last year and a half, said Morgan.

Along with worship services and Sunday School, Calvary offers Cowboy Church, Thursday night Bible study and children’s and youth ministries.

Also, Morgan said Calvary is starting a four-year missions program that focuses on outreach to Portales, New Mexico, the United States and another country in turn.

“I feel like there is an urgency to reach out to the lost,” he said, adding the church has a strong heart for evangelism.

The church also has a revival planned Monday through Friday next week.

“I think it’s an exciting time at Calvary,” McAlister said.