Cavalry Baptist Church celebrates 150 years

Nearly 150 years ago to the day, a group of German Baptists, from the Dunkard Church at Blooming Grove, founded what is now Calvary Baptist Church at 42 Washington Boulevard.

Originally founded June 13, 1869, the small church remains strong in its mission and will celebrate its 150th anniversary with special meals and a service over its anniversary weekend.

“This was a German speaking area of Williamsport. They called it ‘Dutch Hill,’ “ said the Rev. Janice Green, who grew up attending Calvary.

The founders built a wood-framed building that faced Washington Boulevard, then took that wood-framed building, turned it around and moved it back in 1901, she said.

The original structure is still part of the current building. It has since been refurbished and a sanctuary and educational building added on to it.

Green has fond memories of growing up in the church. She shared how when she was younger, each grade had a Sunday School teacher and each grade had six or seven children to a class. Those were the people she grew up with, moving through the grades together.

“We used to gather in a big room and sing a little song and then we’d go to our classes. I can remember Mrs. Eisenminger, she was my third grade Sunday School teacher. It was really important to her that we would memorize scripture. Every week she would give us a paper with a specific scripture on it. We were given a Bible when we went into third grade, so we would take our Bibles and we would memorize the scripture,” Green said.

The students were then required to recite their memory verse to the teacher and, after a couple of weeks of doing that, they would receive a paper which was put on a ribbon. On Rally Day the children would wear their ribbons so that everyone could see their accomplishments.

“I grew up in this church. I have a love for this place,” she said.

Green, who had pastored for a church out of the area before retiring, said she always visited Calvary during her trips home.

“This has so much meaning for me. I remember my Sunday School teachers. I remember memorizing scripture. I remember the programs we used to do, the plays in fellowship hall. This is where I was baptized. This is where I was ordained to the Christian ministry. So, it’s very meaningful to me,” she said.

A celebratory dinner will be held Saturday, June 15, for the church’s 150th anniversary. Reservations should be made by May 25. Then, on Sunday morning, the worship will be extended to two hours, beginning at 10 a.m. There will be special music and a presentation of the church’s history.

“We’re just going to have a celebration. We’re going to have some fun and some worship all together,” Green said.

Sunday’s service will be followed by a light lunch. The public is invited to attend at no charge.

Green noted that when the church first began, it was very much a neighborhood church and she believes that it is still the work of the church to bring the Word to that neighborhood.

“It’s not so much of a neighborhood church anymore, but we still do get some of the neighborhood people here,” she said. “We need to be working in our neighborhood to bring the Word of the Lord to them,”

When asked why she thinks this church stands while others have folded, Green is quick to answer:

“I think God still has work for us and we recognize that. We preach the Gospel, we don’t water down what the Word of God says. We haven’t gotten away from the Biblical principles so even though we’re small, we still recognize the need for missions. This church is very mission-oriented. I think the faithfulness of the people that are here is what keeps it going and God is certainly leading us in many directions.”