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Calvary Community celebrates 50 years this Sunday
Associate Pastor Jim Benedict, left, and Senior Pastor Dan Angove outside the youth building that will be dedicated Sunday at Calvary Community Church. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
Calvary Community’s congregation has kept the faith for 50 years.

And they’ve never wavered on one critical point - the Word of God.

“It’s not about what you think or I think,” noted Senior Pastor Dan Angove. “It is what God says.”

The church marks its golden anniversary Sunday with a special celebration following the 9 and 10:30 a.m. services at the worship center at 815 W. Lathrop Road between Union Road and Main Street in North Manteca.

The services will include recognition of long-time members who made Calvary possible, video clips of the church’s past, and special recorded messages of former senior pastors.

Following the 10:30 a.m. service they will serve hamburgers, links, and hot dog meals to all in attendance. They may also have bounce houses and other games if weather cooperates.

The new youth building will also be dedicated as well on newly remodeled classrooms.

Calvary traces its roots back to 1960 when a prayer group headed by Allen Anil and sponsored by a Stockton Church first met. The small group met in a home. Today the congregation numbers 2,000 strong and is still growing.

Calvary actually uses its size to provide things such as a large youth center, a free-standing food closet operation, and other economies of scale but concentrates on getting much smaller groups of 60 or less people to bond and to get closer to God.

“The smaller groups are so people can apply God’s teachings to help them make life changes,” noted Associate Pastor Jim Benedict.

Calvary tailors the structure of worship to meet common or individual needs and even has an informal “20 Something” service at 6 p.m. Sundays. But it is all subservient to Calvary’s main purpose.

“You will hear the Word of God,” Angove said of people who attend the church.

It is that unwavering devotion to the Word of God that has prompted many to become long-time congregation members including Sharron Cook who currently serves as office manager.

She started attending when she was single in 1984. She met her future husband Michael at Calvary. Both eventually served as lay pastors for the church’s singles ministry.

It was the music, though, that lured Cook to Calvary.

“I can’t sing but I love listening to the music,” she said.

Calvary has a strong tradition of mixing music with worship. Its large Christmas undertaking - a three-day musical production - is typically written by a congregation members and staged before packed houses.

“Calvary has been blessed with a lot of talented people in our congregation.” Angove said.

Angove noted that Calvary also takes Jesus’ directive to reach out to heart.

Although they low-key it, Calvary has numerous community outreach efforts. They provide food to 240 struggling families each month from its free-standing food closet that was erected just for that purpose. After years of backing Ray of Hope and its effort to help struggling children at Christmas and getting ready for school, they are extending that effort to get families served by the food closet since Ray of Hope has closed.

Active in the Manteca Ministerial Association the church has been a consistent financial supporter of HOPE Family ministries to help shelter homeless families, is supportive of LOVE Inc and gets involved in community outreach such as staging neighborhood park events and other endeavors.

The church also sponsors a preschool and kindergarten program dubbed Lambs and Lions that has a waiting list of 100.

Calvary moved into its current campus in 1994 from the first church that they built as a congregation on Button Avenue that is now the Christian Worship Center. Several years ago they purchased five acres to the north for future growth. Among the possible uses could be a future gym.

On Sunday, the congregation will celebrate the imminent construction of a new café, kitchen, barbecue and sitting area.

Angove plans to issue a challenge during Sunday’s services borrowing from Joshua 24.

“We’re not just looking back at the last 50 years but looking forward to how we can serve God in the future,” Angove said.