Calvary Temple celebrates 100th anniversary
The year 2017 is not just another year for Calvary Temple, South Whitehall.
The church is celebrating a noteworthy feat — its 100th anniversary.
Pastor Ray Ricketts is the eighth and current senior pastor of Calvary Temple.
“I have been a member since 2006,” Ricketts said. “I became senior pastor Jan. 6, 2010.
“I was raised in New York, Ricketts said. “I went away to college in Louisiana and moved back to New York after college.
“I went to seminary and started ministry in New York.”
Ricketts and his family moved to Pennsylvania but commuted to New York daily.
“I lived here for the first year and was pastoring in New York so that commute was not good on our children,” he said. “We kept them in school there, so we commuted six days a week into New York.
“After the first year, we brought them to school here and I gave up the pastorate in New York.
I was actually a member of this church but at that point I was not on the pastoral team. I was just a member.”
Ricketts described how he came to be on the ministerial team for Calvary Temple.
“The last pastor, one Sunday morning, while preaching just walked off the altar in the middle of the sermon and walked up to me and asked ‘You’re a preacher aren’t you?’” Ricketts said.
The past pastor told Ricketts he needed to “do some work around here” so he joined the ministerial team.
Ricketts, youth pastor until 2010, when he became senior pastor, has been helping the congregation celebrate the 100th anniversary since January.
“The ministry started January 1917 so we decided to take a lot of months just to reflect on it,” Ricketts said. “The weekend of Sept. 8 was the final celebration.”
To celebrate the anniversary of Calvary Temple, services and special events were offered and will continue to be held throughout the year.
The celebration includes reflecting on past actions and the people who have brought Calvary to where it is today.
“We have special services once a month celebrating some of our past and current leaders,” Ricketts said. “We’ve been doing that over the year.
“We have brought in some of our past different elected officers who are still alive.”
Relatives of the original congregation were invited back to attend services and commemorate the anniversary.
“We started the year off with family members of the original 12 members who are still in the area,” Ricketts said.
The original congregation of believers increasingly expanded until there was a need for a building to house the growing numbers.
That number grew into the congregation today that gathers at Calvary Temple on Winchester Road.
“One of the great things for me as pastor is just looking back at what has occurred,” Ricketts said. “Those individuals, the sacrifices they made, the commitment of the individuals that certainly went beyond what they were imagining.
“It started with 12 people just praying. A hundred years later we’re here.”
Ricketts explained the purpose and focus of Calvary Temple.
“We are changing our mission statement to something simple but it leads back into where we’re going, which will be, ‘We make disciples who make disciples who make disciples,’” he said. “The model we will be taking from is Acts 2 where we as believers reach out to people we already know.
“So our model going forward is having a clear intentionality about making disciples and telling others who are already in our circle about our own encounter with God.”
Calvary Temple is selfless in that its members strive to help those not just in their family but also their community.
“Right now we are probably in the best financial situation we have been in probably for the life of the ministry,” Ricketts said. “We have decided what God has blessed us with we have chosen to be a blessing to the community.”
Rickett says the church helps those who can’t pay bills, mortgages and even funeral bills.
“We do it because we have been blessed, so we have chosen to bless those around us who are in need,” he said. “We helped a church pay off its debt 17 years early. That money can now be reinvested in helping the community.”
Not only does the church share its blessings with the community but it also shares building space with Lehigh Valley Christian High School and members of the community use its fields.
“The building gets to live its purpose,” Ricketts said.