Calvary Baptist Church voted June 28 to reinvest its resources in a partnership with another Lancaster congregation to add a Spanish service to its existing worship.
The remaining 17 members of Calvary Baptist approved a proposal by Brian Saxon, pastor of Second Baptist Church, to relaunch Calvary as “one church, worshipping in two languages” with a vision of becoming “a place of lasting relationships where people love God, love people and live the mission.”
Second Baptist will provide leadership, resources and other materials needed to continue offering an English service at Calvary, while moving its Spanish ministry there.
Established in 1924 to reach the families of a once-booming textile industry, Calvary Baptist grew rapidly. But as mills later closed, the neighborhood changed and the congregation declined in numbers.
In 2017, the leadership of Calvary Baptist sought counsel from the South Carolina Baptist Convention to bring renewal. A demographic study of the church’s immediate context revealed ethnic diversity, poverty, single-parent households, and a high renter occupancy. There were plenty of families with children, but very few were attending any church, and many of the residents did not speak English in their homes.
With a growing Hispanic population in the surrounding area and an established Hispanic ministry at Second Baptist, a recommendation to form the partnership between the two churches to provide worship services both in English and Spanish at Calvary seemed promising.
On June 28, Pastor Jimmy Fox, preaching from Luke 5, recounted how several men sought the best way to bring a paralytic to Jesus to be healed. Calvary had a similar problem, he explained: How could they bring people to Jesus though they were few in number and the barriers seemed insurmountable?
Now, with the help of Second Baptist, the members of Calvary have taken a step of faith toward a hopeful future of ministry to its community.