“And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” – Ezra 3:11b

Church has enjoyed God’s rich blessings

Seventy years is an impressive mark of time. It points to the preservation and guiding hand of God through decade after decade. We must rejoice in God’s goodness to this ministry. We must thank God for those who He chose to begin this work and those He used to preserve it.
2017 also marked the 40th anniversary of Calvary Christian School, another very valuable ministry that God has raised up here in this place. At a time such as this, we look back to what God has done. The Lord has been faithful through the years.
From a handful of people to a well established church, God has proven Himself over and over. God has used this church to win the lost to Himself and to train up a generation of believers to stand for Him in this day.
Through the ministry here many have gone on to serve the Lord here and in other ministries around the world. We should all pause on this day to thank those who in the past have sacrificed of their time, money , energy, and talents to further the cause of Christ in Hollister.
Calvary Baptist Church was started because of a need in the Hollister area for a sound, fundamental, Baptist witness that would aggressively seek the lost and preach the whole counsel of God.
As times changed, compromise and theological drift caused Calvary to withdraw from its original fellowship in the Conservative Baptist Association to become an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. We have learned from the past that we must always be vigilant so that fifty years from now, should the Lord tarry, this ministry will still be standing faithfully.
Much has changed in Christianity over the past sixty years. Thankfully, we can say by the grace of God that we stand now where we stood then. We believe in the authoritative and inerrant Word of God as the rule for all doctrine and practice. We believe in the finished, substitutionary work of Christ on the cross for all men.
We believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave.  We believe in a literal heaven and a literal hell.  We believe that salvation is only found through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We believe in the pre-millenial, pre-rapture, coming of Jesus Christ.
We believe it is our duty to carry out the great commission given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Many ministries do not arrive at this milestone, or if they do they have greatly changed from their original intent.
Let us thank God for the preservation of this ministry, but let us also determine before God to be vigilant in the coming days to be faithful until He returns. We must be vigilant in doctrine, vigilant in zeal, and vigilant in our devotion to Jesus Christ.

The First Church

A small group met on June 8, 1952 to discuss the possibility of forming a new Baptist church in Hollister. The group met for a time of prayer on Sunday morning and then attended services at the First Baptist Church in Watsonville.
After the service, the group met with Pastor Ralph Kraft, who was the President of the Northern Conservative Baptist Association.
On June 30, a special meeting was held at the Women’s Club on the corner of 7th Street and Monterey Street to officially vote and organize Calvary Baptist Church of Hollister and also to vote on joining the Conservative Baptist Association of America.
The charter was signed by 26 of the 35 people present in the meeting. The group met in the basement of the Rogers house for the first service.
“It was kind of damp and cold down there,” said Dewey Cashion, a charter member who still attends the church. “But it wasn’t too bad. It was comfortable and we enjoyed it. I had no idea we would be in such a nice facility now.”
The first deacons were Bob Rogers (chairman), Bob Griggs (Sunday School superintendent), and Virgil Banning. The church clerk was Frankie Banning. Paper plates and paper cups were used in the first communion. On Sept. 3, Clyde Stowell was named the first pastor of the church.

The Downtown Location

The church rented the building from the Women’s Club for Sunday services and Sunday School. The building was nearly 100 years old and was originally a Methodist church.
In November, when the building became available for purchase, the church made an offer for $20,000 for the property and building. The offer was originally turned down, but in December, the Women’s Club voted to sell the property to the church for $20,000.
The dedication day for Calvary Baptist Church was June 7, 1953, and there were special speakers in the morning and evening. The old bell, the same one as at the current location, was rung for the first time. When the church moved, the bell was removed and moved with it. After years of service, the building needed to be updated to comply with accessibility codes. The church leaders deemed that this upgrade would not be cost effective for such an old building, so a new building was built.

The Current Location

Calvary bought the property on Highland Drive and sold the property at 7th and Monterey streets to Black Cooper Ottsen Funeral Home, who turned it into a parking lot.
Ground breaking for the new building was Oct. 1, 1972. The area around the church was not built up as it is today. There were no houses around the church property. It was all open fields.
The committee had to walk from Sunset Drive through a hay field to look at the property. Many of the members did much of the work to get the new building ready. There were two and a half acres with three lots to the east of Highland Drive. Two were by bought by church members, and the other was sold. The dedication service was May 6, 1973.
As homes started to pop up in the area, the church was able to buy two additional lots. This area is currently used a barbecue and recreation area.

School Celebrates Anniversary

In response to the Lord’s command to “train up a child in the way he should go,” Calvary Baptist Church expanded its ministry by opening a Christian school in the fall of 1977.
Pastor Chester Hallberg and his son Pastor Dean Hallberg came to Calvary Baptist Church a year earlier with the understanding that they would be starting a Christian school. The school opened with 33 students.
“The school has trained hundreds of young people to serve the Lord,” said Dean Hallberg, who is now the senior pastor. “With the guidance of a well-trained staff dedicated to the training of children, the school has continued to grow and be respected.”
The first couple of years were tough years for the school. The parking lot was just gravel, so the basketball team had to practice in the Harder’s driveway across the street. The athletic field was an uneven rocky weed patch, and the playground was nonexistent.
“The corner lot was a frog pond with an amphibious choir that drowned out the the evening services with their volume,” Hallberg said.
Martha Kliewer and Ellen Harder taught the lower elementary grades, and Mary Hallberg and Pastor Dean (as he affectionately became known by all who knew him) taught the upper elementary, junior high, and high school grades.
“The thing that has really impressed me over the years is the genuine dedication of the staff,” Hallberg said. “Their love for the Lord has made the difference. I think of Mrs. Kliewer setting the stage with her love for the students and sweet spirit.”
There have been two building phases since the school opened. A new addition that holds two to three classrooms was added to the north part of the education wing, which used to end at the principal’s office. A new building and a modular have recently been added that can house an additional four classrooms.
“The school grew during my 15 years as principal,” Hallberg said. “It continues to prosper and remain faithful to the Lord.”