Calvary Baptist Church established

Calvary Baptist Church was established in State College, Pennsylvania in 1955. The effort was initiated by just one young couple, Dick and Jean Reed, from a Baptist General Conference (BGC) church in Pennsylvania, who were living in State College. With help from the pastor of a BGC church in Lanse, PA, and from the Director of Missions of the Middle East Baptist Conference (MEBC), a church planter was sent to State College in June 1955.

Darrell Eddy, a recent seminary graduate, was given financial support by the MEBC and the BGC. After three weeks of door-to-door calling and contacts with a few evangelical Christians in the community, Rev. Eddy advertised the first Sunday Evening worship service of Calvary Baptist Church to be held on July 10, 1955. The service was held in Woodman Hall, a rented building, which was to become the home of the church for nine years. The attendance at that first service was eighteen.

Church services continued from that time forward but growth was very slow. Woodman Hall was not available on Sunday morning and neither the public schools nor Penn State University would accommodate church services. After some increase in attendance, and attempts to hold a morning service in a store building, the average attendance again fell below twenty. Pastor Eddy resigned to enter foreign missionary service in January 1957.

Pastor Elvin Stambaugh

In June 1957, the small group then called Elvin Stambaugh, a recent seminary graduate, to continue the ministry. At that time, Woodman Hall became available for both a morning and evening service. Average Sunday morning attendance increased to 57 by November 1957. A Sunday School was started and plans were made for formal organization as a BGC church. However, these plans were placed on hold after Pastor Stambaugh resigned in June 1958.

Pastor Robert McLaughlin

By this time, most of the core group that had established the church and kept it alive had moved from State College. Consideration was given to disbanding but the Lord led the small remaining group to call a new pastor. Within one month after the departure of Pastor Stambaugh, Rev. Robert McLaughlin began his ministry in State College.

Church and Sunday school attendance quickly recovered to the earlier peak levels. Plans for organization were carried out, a constitution was approved and incorporation was accomplished. The church was accepted and recognized by the BGC in April 1959.

The congregation then began planning for a church building. In September 1959, a suburban building site was purchased on Atherton Street, a highway north of State College. Finances were quite limited and construction of a building was not foreseen for several years.

Efforts to obtain additional land at the North Atherton site were unsuccessful but in answer to corporate prayer, the Lord provided a much better location on the planned University Drive within State College. The church purchased this two and one-half acre site in May 1962 at a cost of $6500, far below the market value. A Building Committee began working with an architect on the requirements and design of a church building. Construction began in April 1964 and the building was dedicated in October 1964. After leading the church through nine years of growth and the achievement of a building, Pastor McLaughlin resigned in July 1967.

Pastor Kenneth Swetland

A new pastor was called and the Rev. Kenneth Swetland began his ministry in May 1968. During his pastorate of nearly four years, attendance increased and new outreach ministries were established. This included organizing the Christian Service Brigade and Pioneer Girls, programs for the youth of the church. A weekday nursery school was started for small children. Pastor Swetland participated in a student ministry at Penn State sponsored by the Religious Affairs Office. In his letter of resignation, effective January 31, 1972, Pastor Swetland stated that Calvary Baptist Church is a place where people can grow spiritually, have honest and loving fellowship, and experiment with fresh ideas for ministry.

Pastor Richard Ottoson

In August 1972, the Rev. Richard Ottoson began his ministry in State College. The church experienced its greatest period of growth up to that time during his thirteen years as pastor. Sunday morning attendance increased from an average of 139 to 420. About half of these were college students. An addition to the church building was planned and completed, providing space for over 400 in worship and added room for Sunday school. Financial giving increased six-fold, permitting a major increase in mission outreach. New church ministries included a church choir, a prayer chain, an all-church retreat, and a student mission aid fund.

Pastor Robert Nordstrom, Joel Goff, & Robert Brunko

After Pastor Ottoson's resignation in June 1985, the Rev. Robert Nordstrom, a longtime BGC pastor and administrator, served as interim pastor. In April 1986, the Rev. Joel Goff was called as pastor. During his six years of ministry, many new members were added, particularly young families. A second morning worship service was begun with a less traditional format. It did not, as hoped, attract many unchurched people or those who were not already attending Calvary Baptist, and was later discontinued. During Pastor Goff's ministry, many of the congregation participated in short-term missions and have continued this commitment. The church called an associate pastor during this period. Jeff Lynk contributed greatly to the work of the church, including leading the worship service, organizing small groups, and directing the youth program. He continued his ministry after the resignation of Pastor Goff in April 1992, providing a continuity of leadership. The Rev. Robert Brunko, a retired BGC pastor, served as interim pastor from July 1992 to March 1994, with some interruption. His ministry was a model for interim pastorates, providing strong Scriptural preaching and wise counseling.

Pastor Dan Nold

Pastor Dan Nold was called as the senior pastor in early 1994. His unusual maturity for a young pastor and his passion for prayer and spiritual renewal has inspired the congregation to greater service and commitment to Christ. The attendance has grown significantly, including those who have accepted Christ through the ministry of the church. Pastor Nold has been a leader in bringing the evangelical community of the State College region together for a united outreach.

Church Remodeled

An extensive remodeling of the church building was completed in 1997. Most of the changes were interior to beautify the worship room and the fellowship hall. The foyer was expanded and a new entrance design and a spire was added. A centralized office complex was created on the lower floor, various facilities were upgraded, and a new heating system and air-conditioning were installed.

In 1997, the Rev. Douglas Nelson was called as the associate pastor. His ministry included personal evangelism, counseling, discipling, outreach to college students, teaching, and leading worship services. Pastor Nelson resigned in December 1998 to accept the pastorate of a new congregation in Madison, Connecticut.

Pastor Stacy Sublett was called as the Youth Pastor in September 1998. He quickly assumed the leadership of the growing youth ministry. He assembled a large volunteer staff to help expand the program. This included a weekly meeting for the Christian youth of the church, called XStream, and Bible study groups for girls in both the Middle School and the High School. The ROCK (Righteous Outreach by Christ's Kids) ministry was continued as an outreach to non-Christian students. Pastor Stacy also cooperates with Youth leaders from other evangelical churches in the State College area to conduct community-wide youth events.

Office Complex Established

In 1999, several changes were made to the church program and organization. An office complex was established in a rented suite about a mile away from the church. The previous office space in the church building was then used for SS classes and meeting rooms. Plans were initiated to establish a purpose-driven organization to better achieve the primary purpose of the church and to prepare for further growth and outreach. The schedule of Sunday morning worship services was changed with a more traditional service at 9:00 AM and a contemporary service at 10:45 AM. Sunday school classes were then held during each of these services. Weekly services on Wednesday evenings were begun which included praise and worship, the sharing of prayer requests and victories, and a meeting of discipleship groups.

Staff Increased

Pastor Dan Dorsey was called as the Executive Pastor and moved to State College in January 2000. His responsibilities include church administration and he was appointed as Executive Director of the Leadership Team. He has also helped lead out in the development of several ministries (i.e. Life Groups, Discipleship Training, Administrative Team, etc). In addition, Pastor Dorsey assists in leading the morning worship service and occassional preaching.

Pastor Danny Miller served on staff May 2000-2005 as Pastor of Outreach. Danny was formerly the pastor of a local church plant, New Hope Community, which has disbanded. His responsibilities included working with the Mission Team, evangelism training, developing the Lighthouses of Prayer ministry, reaching out to the community, and building up the College Student Ministry.

Attendance at the worship services continued to grow in the year 2000. A Saturday evening service was added during the spring. The attendance at the three services peaked at over 1000 on Easter Sunday. The Leadership Team began consideration of providing for further growth in the fall. The Worship Room has been full to overflowing at the second service on Sunday mornings. It was decided to move that service off-site to the North High School auditorium which will seat 870 people.

Calvary Today

The Lord continues to bless the church as demonstrated by changed lives, decisions to follow Christ, and a spirit of unity. Christians are finding a place of service and opportunities for spiritual growth and fellowship. Support of world missions has increased and over one hundred people have participated in short-term mission projects in a single year. Pastor Dan Nold has been a leader in developing cooperation between many local churches to work toward renewal and revival in the State College area.