Community is key at Calvary

Newly-minted pastor David McCleary wants Calvary Baptist Church to become a community hub. PHOTO: Anna Killen

Hello, Beach Metro News readers. I’m the newly-minted pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. We are located at the corner of Main Street and Benlamond Avenue – I am sure that many of you have passed us in your travels.

As you can imagine, being invited to be the new spiritual leader of such a longstanding community, with so rich a history is a pretty amazing experience.

The choice of me as the pastor is made all the more amazing considering who I am and where I come from. I am a transplanted Jamaican Canadian and, apart from being a follower of Jesus, I am a former teacher and wrestling coach, bread baker, and campus police officer. I have worked for years in high-risk, high-needs communities, and with homeless people in the downtown core and in the suburbs. And yet here I am!

The people of Calvary Baptist Church are committed to living out Jesus’ call to love others as we love ourselves and to express the love of God in real and practical ways. Over the years, Calvary has been involved in establishing an income-geared affordable housing apartment, starting a refugee committee that has, in the last 16 years, helped to sponsor 20 refugee families, and running the Grace Pascoe Care Centre for the last 50 years – not to mention the numerous concerts and smaller scale community outreach and special event programs that Calvary runs from time to time. It is a busy and vibrant community.

Coming into an organization with such a rich history means that there is a great deal to learn. Thankfully, the people of Calvary have been patient, kind, and loving as I learn the ropes. The strength of Calvary Baptist Church remains its community, people who continue to drive the good work that we faithfully do from day to day. As a community of faith we are excited about what the future holds for us as a church – we are also excited to see what more we can do as concerned members of this Beach neighbourhood to help make our world a little better each day.

We are always looking for new and interesting ways to continue to communicate the love of God in our church and in our community – and as the resident new guy, I want to make things more accessible, transparent and welcoming. It is my job to help high-minded ideas become real and lived realities. To begin, with the help and support of the facilities team, I am installing “new” reclaimed, recycled wood doors, with see-through glass insets at my office entrance, and am doing all I can to make our church a thriving, living, and more loving example of what it means to be a good and godly neighbour in our Beach community.

To that end, we are thinking up new and fun ways of interacting with the community.

Here are some of the initiatives we are working on:

  • In the spring of 2017 we are planning on making a new community garden in the front yard of the church on Main Street. The garden will be wheelchair accessible so that we can share that space with our neighbours at the long-term care facility across the street. We want to improve the church’s overall accessibility, as well.
  • I am working with community partners to start a fight club co-op at the church for anyone who is interested, including church parishioners, as a way to stay not only spiritually fit but also physically fit.
  • We are researching the practical ways to lessen our environmental footprint – whether that is through better recycling habits, or by putting solar panels on the church roof
  • This year for our annual rummage sale, we are welcoming others to join us in selling their goods in the church parking lot to make it a community event.

These are only some of the ideas we are working on presently. If you have any comments or new ideas about what more we can do as a church to help you, I would be happy to chat. Please drop by, give me a call, or drop me a line at the church and we will head to one of the excellent coffee shops in our neighbourhood and catch up.

It is my hope that I will get the chance to meet you in the days, weeks and months ahead as I get to know the Beach neighbourhood a little better each day.

David McCleary is the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church.

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