By Allie Vasquez
February 21, 2012 (30th Anniversary)
Calvin Presbyterian Church held its first service October 19, 1980. We consisted of nine families.
When Calvin notified the PCA of the desire to be organized as a PCA church, the presbytery sent Reverend Bill Read as an organizing minister to the Phoenix area to oversee Calvin and start other PCA churches. Calvin was placed as a mission church under Prescott PCA. All Calvin members were members of Prescott PCA.
On August 9, 1981 the day that we had been waiting and praying for arrived. The pulpit was filled not by a guest pastor, but our very own pastor, Rev. John B Anderson.
February 21, 1982, Calvin having grown to about 25 families became organized as a particular church. Shortly after being organized as a church, Reverend Anderson, the Session, and with the guidance of Reverend Read, sought to do the impossible and buy a church already built or buy land and build. We knew that only God could make this happen.
By God’s grace, on December 6, 1984, Calvin held the first service in the new building. The Sunday school rooms were later added. Here is an excerpt from the dedication
To the glory of God, our Heavenly Father, by whose favor we have built this house of worship; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who died as our atoning sacrifice; to the praise of the Holy Spirit, the one who has gifted us and is making us holy we dedicate this sanctuary, for worship in prayer and song; for the faithful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; for the ministry of God’s Holy Word; for the celebrations of the Holy Sacrament; for the salvation of the lost; the restoration to fellowship of Christians who have wandered; and the building up of the saints in the knowledge and grace of the Lord.
In May 1986, Reverend Anderson left Calvin, moving his family back to Florida. Calvin called Reverend Wayne A. Buchtel. October 1, 1986, Rev Buchtel filled the Calvin pulpit for the first time, where he served faithfully for 19 years until his retirement in May 2005.
In October 1992, Reverend Garrett De Young and the members of the former Trinity PCA joined Calvin adding about six active families to our congregation.
On March 27, 1994, after much discussion and prayer, Calvin petitioned the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) Presbytery of Southern California for membership, which we believed was more in accord with our purposes and goals. Dr. Greg Bahnsen, son of one of our member families preached the sermon at the organizational service. Reverend Jay Fluck and Reverend Ross Graham were also present to aid in the worship and administering the vows. “?
On March 3, 1996, Prescott Presbyterian Church joined the OPC and those of us in Calvin who were members of Prescott during Calvin’s mission days were delighted to travel to Prescott to witness this great event. Reverend William Warren delivered the message. Calvin’s Elder Bill Montgomery gave the greetings from Calvin. Calvin’s pastor, Reverend Wayne Buchtel gave the charge to the congregation. Prescott’s pastor at that time was Reverend Gary Findley.
In mid 2005, Calvin assumed the oversight of Iglesia Nueva Vida, a Spanish-speaking mission work of the OPC. INV members are full members of Calvin. Calvin and INV share the use of the church building. It is our shared goal to build up INV so that they may become a particular church at some time in the future.
In May 2005, Reverend Wayne Buchtel retired, moving to Virginia. We were thankful to have Reverend William Warren to fill the Calvin pulpit as interim pastor until a new pastor could be called. We enjoyed having the Warrens during the almost two years that he served as our pastor.
Reverend Michael Babcock was called and took the pulpit in March 2007. He and his family are a great blessing to Calvin.
On many Sundays Calvin is filled to capacity and we are blessed with a hard working, faithful building committee. The building committee has worked with an architect and plans are almost finalized for the new church buildings that will fill the needs of the members for now and the future, giving Calvin the needed room to move forward in the service of the Lord.
In 2009, the Presbytery received the Tucson Bible study as an official mission work with oversight by Calvin’s Session. In 2011, Calvin’s Intern, Christopher Chelpka, was ordained and became the pastor of the Tucson Mission. Two Session members of Calvin are augmenting the session of Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Tucson.
On Sunday, February 26, 2012, Calvin Presbyterian Church celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Reverend Anderson returned to Phoenix to preach in the morning and evening services. Reverend Anderson and Reverend Babcock together led a ceremony after the morning worship to break ground for our new building. It only seemed natural to have the groundbreaking while Rev. Anderson was here, in a ceremony similar to that of the original groundbreaking in 1984 that he also led.