Calvary Christian ChurchHistory
Calvary: The Beginnings
Calvary Christian Church was established in 1934 by Pastor Author Ogle and from 1934-1939 was called Calvary Tabernacle. The congregation changed its name to Calvary Gospel Assembly in 1938 and was in official fellowship with the International Pentecostal Assemblies (IPA). As a result of Pastor Ogle’s death in 1939, the congregation withdrew from the IPA the following year.
Pastor Ogle was succeeded as pastor by an evangelist named Ruby Haley. Through her leadership the church body was officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization under the name of Calvary Gospel Assembly. During these early years the church met in a store front building in Royal Oak, Michigan on what was called 1st St., which today is East 11 Mile Road. Through the leadership of Pastor Haley our present property was purchased as a vacant lot. Soon after, the young church began its first building program and erected the initial part of our building which was dedicated in 1946. Sister Haley continued to faithfully lead Calvary until January 13, 1952. It was then that the congregation entered into cooperative fellowship with the General Counsel of the Assemblies of God.
Following Sister Haley, Pastor Hendricks led the congregation for a short period. During his tenure as pastor the official name of the church was changed to Calvary Temple. Soon to follow Pastor Hendricks was Pastor Jennings, and during his leadership the first church parsonage was purchased at 123 N. Minerva. Eventually this was replaced by purchasing a parsonage across the street at 2200 Mace. This house is situated on the corner of the church property, and has been maintained by the church to the present. Pastor Jennings’ ministry also was quite brief and ended after only one and a half years. Pastor Carl Strength became the pastor in 1955 and under his guidance the original church building was remodeled and the Sunday school classroom addition was built.
Pastor Strength left Calvary’s pastorate in 1960, and A. F. DiMusto, who with his family had been a traveling evangelist for eleven years, was invited to take the position. Having been an experienced evangelist, the church experienced unprecedented growth under Pastor DiMusto’s ministry. The DiMusto family was blessed with unusual musical talent which became a hallmark of their ministry. Bro. DiMusto was an exceptional trombone player and singer, and Sis. DiMusto was a very gifted pianist, organist, accordionist, and vocalist. Both of their daughters, Sharon and Rachel, were singers and went on to be gifted piano players.
Because of God’s blessing on Pastor DiMusto’s ministry the Sunday school program had so outgrown the building that classes were held in the parsonage garage as well as the living room and basement. The need for a larger facility became evident and a ground breaking service took place on June 19, 1967. The new church sanctuary was completed under Pastor DiMusto’s leadership in 1968 and it was dedicated to the Lord on April 27, 1969. Pastor Mark Byers, who had married the DiMusto’s firstborn daughter Sharon, was invited by the pastor and church board to join the staff in December of 1970 as the full time assistant pastor.
Calvary: Pastor Mark Joins
In the fall of 1983 Bro. DiMusto decided to retire from full-time pastoring after serving as Calvary’s pastor for twenty three years and returned to the evangelism ministry. During this time, in 1977 Pastor Mark and his wife had accepted a pastorate in upstate New York. Following Pastor DiMusto’s decision, they were contacted and asked to take over the leadership of Calvary Temple Church. Having accepted the invitation Pastor Mark Byers became the senior pastor on November 14, 1983. In the latter years of Pastor DiMusto’s ministry there had been a significant, prolonged, satanic attack against the church flock, and it had been reduced to a small group of men and women who were committed to the Lord and Bro. DiMusto. The first service of Pastor Mark’s pastorate was a midweek Wednesday night service and consisted of 5 people besides the Byers family. Shortly after becoming the pastor, the Assemblies of God leadership voiced their concerns over the fact that the church was in cooperative fellowship with them but Pastor Mark wasn’t credentialed through their denomination. The congregation discussed at length their association with the denomination and voted unanimously to withdraw from their affiliation. Calvary Christian Church is now described as:an evangelical, independent, full gospel church, in fellowship with those of like precious faith.
Calvary began to grow again as Pastor Mark taught the Word of God and led the congregation into biblical worship along with Sister Sharon’s help as she faithfully ministered to the Lord with her musical talent on the organ and piano. Most of the songs on our worship CD are the product of the flow of the Holy Spirit through her. As the church grew, the need for a Christian school became evident, and in the fall of 1988 we began the first class of Calvary Christian School.
Our staff began to grow and we were able to begin many other ministries during this time such as Royal Rangers and Missionettes, Youth/Singles/Men & Women’s ministries, yearly Fellowship Camp, Sunday school for all ages, worship choir and orchestra, in depth bible school classes, and missionary endeavors in a number of different countries. With the church growth one building project has followed another. At the present the main sanctuary has undergone two remodels. The school facility, playground, and church kitchen have all been remodeled and periodically updated, along with every office, restroom and miscellaneous room in the building. The facility now consists of Calvary Christian School, two pastor’s and main church offices, a radio production and duplication office, a state of the art recording studio, a fellowship hall with kitchen and cafeteria, Sunday school rooms, three nurseries, a brand new multi-purpose teaching and choir room, an art room, and a rental home next door to the church property.
Calvary: The New Century
In 2000 the Lord led us to begin ministering on the radio, and our daily half hour radio program Kingdom Living was born. Declaring the gospel of God’s glorious kingdom to Southeast Michigan for over ten years, these broadcasts are now heard daily on several stations, as well as, all over the world through Oneplace.com. Our website offers podcasts of each broadcast, and a sermon archive where you can download any sermon or series on MP3.
Today our pastoral staff consists of the senior pastor – Mark Byers, the executive pastor – David Byers, and our administrative pastor – Robert Steenbergh, and nine other full time employees. Our local church leadership consists of seven ministering elders and six biblically qualified deacons. Our over all vision is to be a church where the Presence of the Lord is magnified and God’s ways are taught and practiced.