By JoAnn Fields
Contributing Writer

San Diego, CA: 2014 marks the 125th year that Calvary Baptist Church has made an impact in the City of San Diego. In 1889 Calvary Baptist Church was established as the Second Baptist Church, located at 1st and B Street. In 1926 the church moved to the corner of Crosby and Julian Street and was renamed Calvary Baptist Church.

In 1942, the Senior Pastor was Rev. N.E. “Son” Taylor. Under his leadership, services were broadcast on local radio from the church auditorium, the 1st Hammond organ was purchased and became known for its music ministry.

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In 1952, Rev. S.M. Lockridge was called to become Senior Pastor. Under his leadership the church experienced enormous increase in membership, ground-breaking of the current sanctuary, construction was completed “debt-free” and expansion of the church included the purchase of eight properties in the vicinity of the main sanctuary and two parsonages on San Miguel Avenue and on Monona Drive in La Mesa.

In addition to real estate expansion, Calvary became one of the most noted sanctuary choirs in the City of San Diego. The choir was requested to provide music for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speaking engagement at the United States International University and also became an integral part of the Progressive District, the California State Convention and the National Missionary Baptist State Convention.

Following retirement of Rev. Lockridge in 1993, Rev. Willie J. Smith was called to become the Senior Pastor in 1994 where he expanded a number of ministries that included winter bible study, grief management ministry, quarterly prayer shut-ins, Friday Night Live youth worship and Calvary worship service on the internet to name a few. In 2010, Rev. Willie Smith went home to glory. In 2011, Dr. Emanuel Whipple Sr. became the Senior Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. His accomplishments include the purchase of a wheelchair accessible bus for members, launched an accredited seminary, installed 24 hour surveillance cameras and completed many structural improvements in and around the church.

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Senior Pastor Dr. Emanuel Whipple, Sr. states, “As I look back during the past 24 months, it has been nothing but the “Grace of God” that has favored me to stand on the tall shoulders of great leaders before my time. I would like to salute these great men of God that paved the way before my arrival that includes the late Rev. Taylor, S.M. Lockridge and W.J. Smith. As we embrace our theme for this occasion “Moving Forward” we can’t do it standing still. We must remember where we come from and we can’t forget where we are headed.”

Calvary Baptist Church Anniversary Co-Chairpersons Lawrency Shriner and Kathleen Harmon share,”Today we celebrate the rich history and the promise of a brilliant future. We are are excited and honored to co-chair such an important milestone because we are grateful for every opportunity to serve God and our beloved Church family. We are thankful that our Pastor has the confidence in our ability to lead such an important phase of our year-long celebration, as well.”

The Calvary Baptist Church 125th Anniversary Committee included Sis. Shirley Wallace, Souvenir Book; First Lady Tamica Whipple, Program Liaison; Sis. Kathleen Harmon, Publicity; Sis. Rose Brooms and Sis. Pat Overstreet, Culinary; Sis. Rosie Bellemy, Decorations, Sis. Lou Martin, Hospitality and Sis. Gioa Wyre and Bro. Kawan Debose.

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For additional information on the year-long celebration, please contact Calvary Baptist Church at 719 Cesar E. Chavez Parkway, San Diego, 92113 via phone at (619) 233-6487 or via email at CalvaryBaptist1889@gmail.com.

Photography by JoAnn Fields: