'Small church with a large heart' celebrates 60 years
By Katie Scarvey
For The Salisbury PostThe “small church with a large heart” — John Calvin Presbyterian — will celebrate its 60th anniversary this Saturday and Sunday, May 12-13.
The Rev. Marvin Lindsay, pastor there from 1997-2008, will deliver the sermon on Sunday morning.
The celebration will begin with a dinner in the fellowship hall on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. The program will feature documents and photos of the history of the church prepared by Wayne Hinshaw.
On Sunday morning, breakfast will be served by the Men of the Church at 9 a.m., followed by a presentation of “the people who have made John Calvin Church and the people who are John Calvin Church.”
The 11 a.m. worship service will be followed by an informal reception.
In 1951, a group of people interested in forming a new Presbyterian church on the west side of Salisbury met for a “song and worship service” in Heath Hill Lodge on Easter Sunday . The lodge was a a small rustic building on the campus of Catawba College used by students in the 1960s as sort of a coffee house, recalls Wayne Hinshaw, a member of John Calvin. The lodge remains but is now used as storage, Hinshaw says.
The church’s first service was conducted by the Rev. Milton Faust, pastor of Franklin Presbyterian Church.
Services were held weekly in the lodge, with some Sunday school classes in the nearby home of Allan and Mary Rouzer.
The “Presbyterian Chapel” officially became John Calvin Presbyterian Church a year later, on May 11, 1952. First, Second and Franklin Presbyterian Churches had cooperated in the formation of the John Calvin Church.
Current members of the church Mary Rouzer and Susan Rouzer Waller were charter members, as was the Rev. Eric Faust, along with 41 others.
The Rev. Milton Faust was installed as pastor on July 20 and the first baptism was held on July 14, 1952, with Claudette Roberts and Dana Chester two of the nine persons baptized.
Members continued to meet at the lodge until a fellowship hall was completed in 1952. It served as worship center, fellowship hall and class meeting place until the present sanctuary was constructed several years later.
The building known as The Hut was constructed by members shortly after the fellowship hall opened.
Wayne Hinshaw, who has been a church member with wife Sammie for 29 years, explains that The Hut was a temporary construction company office erected during the building of the veterans’ hospital.
When the hospital was completed, it was donated to the church. It was dismantled, moved across the street and put back together, Hinshaw explains. Over the years it’s been used for various purposes.
At one point, it had fallen into disrepair and the church considered tearing it down but decided instead to renovate. “It’s been well-used,” Hinshaw says. “I’m glad they didn’t tear it down.”
When the Hinshaws joined, Lucy Rose was pastor. Rose, Hinshaw says, was a well-loved pastor and also a historic figure. In 1978 she became the first female senior pastor of a major church in Rowan County. Hinshaw recalls that when the church proposed to add air conditioning to The Manse (the parsonage), Rose argued against it, saying she would rather the money be used to help the poor.
The church’s fellowship hall was dedicated in December of 2004 while Marvin Lindsay was pastor. Instead of the space being devoted solely for church fellowship, Lindsay advocated its use in community outreach. It is utilized daily for the “Lunch and More” program, with 45-65 meals being served on weekdays to senior citizens there.
John Calvin, for a small church, has always been known for its outreach programs. When John Wilkerson was pastor, he was instrumental in organizing the Crisis Assistance Network, which functioned out of the basement of John Calvin for two years. Since 1986, the program was reorganized as part of Rowan Helping Ministries.
Eleven pastors have served John Calvin over the years. From earliest to most recent, they are: Milton Faust, Richard Powell, Reid Newland, Milton Carothers, Richard Erikson, John Bolton, Lucy Rose, John Wilkerson, Chris Zorn, Marvin Lindsay and Kellie Browne.