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Baptist church gives A/G congregation its facility

Calvary Baptist Church in Merced, Calif., gave its $1.2-million facility to neighboring First Assembly of God recently in an effort to help both congregations be more effective in the future.

Children come to church. First Assembly ministers to more than 300 kids.

"Our church had gone through some difficult times," says Phillip Harris, pastor of Calvary Baptist, which had endured bouts of internal discord. The congregation has moved and is now known as New Beginnings Fellowship. "We sensed God wanted us to walk away from our past and look to the future. To do that we had to leave that building."

To that end, Calvary approached First A/G with the idea of giving the congregation the facility, with the only stipulation being that First A/G pay off an outstanding debt of $70,000.

"They said the Lord told them they needed to give us their building," says Harvey Mitchell, pastor of First A/G. "It was totally unexpected. We didn’t know how we would raise $70,000. But we prayed about it and felt we should offer $100,000 so they could walk away with some money to get started in their new location."

"We knew God would take care of our needs and meet their needs as well," says Harris. "We didn’t want to depend on money; we wanted to depend on God for the new direction He was taking us."

Though unexpected, Mitchell says, the new sanctuary that seats 300, the classrooms and offices are a welcome addition. In five years, Mitchell has seen his congregation swell from 30 to more than 300 due in large part to a thriving bus ministry.

"On Sunday mornings we bus between 150 to 180 boys and girls here for children’s church," he says. "One reason God gave us the building is because we have focused on children."

Harris agrees, saying the children’s program compelled Calvary to donate the facility.

"The first month after we moved, First A/G had over 300 kids in what used to be our worship center," he says. "We are excited about what God is doing there. I pray God will continue to bless them, and we are glad we could be a part of what He is doing there."

— Kirk Noonan



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