50 Years of Ministry to Northeastern Nevada
The First Decade
The following excerpt was taken from the January 22, 2015 Rewrite in the Elko Daily Free Press: "50 YEARS AGO - January 18, 1964: 'The Calvary Baptist Church announced today it has purchased a block of land at the corner of Fifth and Walnut, and plans are being made for the construction of a church building sometime this year. The Elko Congregation was formed Jan. 12, 1964 with the Rev. Arthur Blessitt as pastor.'”
It was during January of 1964 that First Baptist Church of Winnemucca sent a young evangelist and his wife to Elko to lay the groundwork for starting a Southern Baptist Church in Elko. Arthur Blessitt and his wife would spend 18 months surveying, visiting, and witnessing to establish a new work in Elko. Arthur Blessitt left Elko in 1965 to found a gospel mission called “His Place” on Sunset Strip in Hollywood, CA.
Don Ledbetter became Calvary's first full time minister in 1965. The congregation consisted of four families. They moved into their first building and parsonage at the corner of 5th and Walnut Streets on March 12, 1967. On this date, the group was officially constituted into a church. Later in May of 1969, Calvary was accepted into the Nevada Baptist Association, which was the forerunner to the Nevada Baptist Convention. In 1974, ten years after the work had begun, the two story education building, know today as the children's building, was erected. This brought about rapid growth in the young congregation.
The Second Decade
The second decade in the life of Calvary Baptist Church saw continued expansion and growth. Additional property was purchased adjacent to the existing worship center and education building with anticipation of more building space and parking in future years. Dr. Don Ledbetter continued to serve as pastor and under his leadership, Calvary began its Bus Ministry that provided transportation for children and adults who would otherwise be unable to attend Sunday School. In 1977, Bill Eardensohn was called to serve as part-time administrative assistant. Bill left after one year to pursue seminary training to prepare for full-time ministry.
In 1978, John Randolph joined the staff as Associate Pastor. Calvary Baptist Church rapidly outgrew the current building and plans were underway to find additional space for classes as the second decade came to a close. God used this church mightily in the first 20 years to changes the lives of scores of people who found Christ through the ministry of Calvary!
The Third Decade
Decade number three in the story of Calvary Baptist Church began with a new pastor at the helm. After 17 years of ministry at Calvary, Don Ledbetter moved to Reno to become Evangelism Director for the Nevada Baptist Convention. Associate Pastor, John Randolph, was called to take the spot of Senior Pastor in May 1983. Pastor Randolph's vision for Calvary was one of growth and leadership. Home Bible study groups were developed, women's ministries expanded, and many members participated in MasterLife discipleship classes and FAITH evangelism training. The church continued to increase in size and, in 1986, the parsonage was vacated and remodeled for Sunday School classes. Two worship services were offered on Sunday morning and a traditional Vacation Bible School became Bible Day Camp held at city parks under the leadership of Joelene Holmes, Children’s Ministry Director. With the church facilities stretched by the steady growth, the church leadership began discussing the need for further building. Decade three came to a close with behind the scenes planning taking place to expand the facilities in the near future.
The Fourth Decade
As decade number three (1985 to 1995) turned to decade number four (1995 to 2005), plans were set in motion for the building of a larger worship center and additional classroom and office space. In the spring of 1989, the “Heart to Build” program had been initiated to help raise money for the financing of this new building project. During this decade, ground was broken for this new addition. On August 16, 1997, Calvary joyfully held the first services in our current auditorium. During this decade, Keith Aikenhead continued to serve as Associate Pastor (1988 to 2007).
In the fall of 1999, Pastor John Randolph and his wife were led to move to the Pacific Northwest to serve for a few years in church ministry there. Following those years, they accepted an assignment with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention to serve in the Caribbean region.
Christopher Cupples became Calvary's third pastor on February 21, 2001. During his tenure as pastor, discipleship classes and a Lay Ministry program were expanded, the new fellowship hall and kitchen was completed, and more property acquired for future growth. David Crowe served as Youth Pastor from 2003 to 2005. The church, which began with four families, was now comprised of over 200 families. Pastor Cupples resigned from his position as Senior Pastor in November 2005. Subsequently he served as Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Elko.
The Fifth Decade
Decade five (2005-2015), in the history of Calvary Baptist Church, began with the selection of a group of men to give oversight to the work of the church during the interim time when the church was without a pastor. These men formed what we know today as the Elder Team. Their job continues to be to give spiritual and administrative leadership to the church. During this time, several different men served as interim pastor, including Kent McAdoo. In April, 2008, Dr. Sam Crouch was called to lead Calvary Baptist church. Sam and his wife, Jan, began their ministry at Calvary on June 1. In this decade, the church became debt-free, paying off the mortgage on the new worship center. In addition, the church staff saw changes as staff transitions and additions took place: Keith Aikenhead stepped down as Associate Pastor, Joelene Holmes passed the baton on to others to lead in the children/preschool area, and Jared Bryant was called as Connections Pastor. He and wife, Skye, began their ministry in November of 2012. In the fall of 2014, Calvary adopted their new mission statement to give guidance in the decades ahead: Calvary Baptist Church exists to Love God, Love Others, and Make Disciples.
Dreams for the Future
What will the next 50 years hold for Calvary Baptist Church? Our church leadership has labored hard and long to develop what we perceive to be God's vision for our church in the days ahead. We desire that CBC is a place where the wounded find healing, the broken find wholeness and the lonely find love. We will be engaged beyond our own walls, reaching out to our community with the single-minded purpose of loving others and leading the lost to a life-altering relationship with Christ.
During the next few years we will seek to reach all of Elko and Spring Creek with the Gospel of Christ, with at least 5% of the population engaged in worship and discipleship through our church. We will have in place a simple, clear, focused discipleship process whereby the primary means of spiritual growth and fellowship is the small group. In a spirit of unity and cooperation, we envision becoming a church that regularly partners with local evangelical churches in prayer, community-centric ministries and outreach intended to share our common love for Christ. Prayer for our community will take place through a dedicated prayer ministry where prayer warriors are involved in praying, seven days a week, eight to ten hours per day. Our vision also includes the opening of Life Support Center that offers family support, counseling, crisis pregnancy support, benevolence ministry, life coaching, adoption support, financial management, domestic violence help, an expanded Celebrate Recovery ministry and more. We will be planting new churches locally as well as nationally and globally. Community service will continue to be a key component of all we do. Within the next 12 months we hope to add an additional full-time staff member who will be responsible for leadership in our Student and Music Ministries. Ultimately, we envision a church that is a key influence for the Kingdom of God in our community. We will be a place where people love and laugh, heal and grow, pray and praise. This, we believe, is God’s vision for our church, and we seek His help to accomplish all He has in store for our future.