The Calvary Baptist Church of Detroit
"Church of the Open Door: Year of the Lord's Favor" Revelation 3.8; Luke 4.18-19
Reverend James Henry Mastin
Organized September 24, 1919 by the Reverend James Henry Mastin and a small band of believers, the Calvary Baptist Church continues to worship, work and witness to the Glory of God. Distinctive among Calvary’s accomplishments is the nurturing of nearly four generations of leadership dedicated to the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan, the Nation and the World. Personalities such as World Heavy Weight Champion, Joe Louis; former City Council President, Erma Henderson; Mayor Coleman Alexander Young; State Representative Charles Diggs Sr; U.S. Congressman Charles Diggs, Jr.; Mortician and Insurance Magnate, A.G. Wright are among the many Christian servants that were inspired by and commissioned through the ministry of Calvary. More than that, Calvary welcomed the migrating masses of African Americans who possessed little social status but who were endowed with native intelligence, common sense and who were baptized in God’s spirit. Calvary provided an environment of prayer, praise, fellowship and mutual aid where everybody was somebody. While everyone did not have membership at Calvary, Calvary belonged to the entire neighborhood. It has been a rock in a weary land of economic depression and societal oppression. It has been a shelter in the time of life’s storms.Calvary has also called people everywhere to celebrate God’s goodness and not to forget the source of their supply.
After nearly 50 years of worshipping in the edifice located on 1330 Joseph Campau, the urban renewal program of the 1970’s proposed to redevelop the entire area in which the church was situated, including Calvary’s property. After much prayer and discussion, the congregation decided to build on an available site in the “Old Black Bottom” neighborhood of which it had been a part. The ground breaking forCalvary’s new church complex took place in November 1975. Calvary opened its new church doors April 10 (Easter), 1977.
Calvary departed from conventional church architecture and erected a truncated pyramid, drawing upon the genius of Africa and calling upon the words of Hosea 12:9a: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.” The vivid orange exterior and the hill on which the church is situated recalls Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” The interior accent of green is the color of life and the liturgical color of the season of Pentecost, the season of the Holy Spirit.
John 10:10 reminds us what Jesus said: “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life; and have it abundantly.” Calvary is blessed with a sanctuary of windows that afford openness and interface between worshipers and passerbys. Calvary can always see, in the words of Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”