Calvary's History

Calvary's History

History of Calvary United Methodist Church 


The Rev. C.S. Steinmetz, a minister for ten years in the Kansas Conference of the Evangelical Association, moved to Colorado Springs in 1899, due to his wife’s poor health. A number of families of this denomination had moved to Colorado Springs from Kansas and Missouri, and the Rev. Steinmetz requested the Kansas Conference establish a mission. In March 1902, the conference appointed the Rev. Steinmetz to organize a new mission in Colorado Springs and one in Ordway, Colorado, 100 miles away, and to serve both locations.

On March 30, 1902, 23 people met in the home of R.F. Shepard on South Cascade Avenue, and organized the society, which has become Calvary United Methodist Church. They met in homes, the Roswell Methodist Church, an abandoned Rio Grande freight depot, and in July 1902, the Rev. Steinmetz erected a tent building adjoining his home at 209 E. Rio Grande. The 18-ft.x18-ft. building had a canvas tent roof with floors and sides made from 1”x12” wooden planks. It had a heating stove, a pulpit, and pump organ. There were 40 chairs with a narrow aisle in the center, leading from the door to the pulpit. This structure was used for sixteen months, until a permanent building was completed in 1903.

Sunday School was an immediate success, as parents who belonged to downtown churches sent their children to this convenient new location in the residential area. The Young People’s Group was organized in 1902 with 30 members.

In March 1903, the Kansas Conference approved the construction of a church building, but specified the cost of the building, furnishings and property not exceed $4,000. General William Palmer offered the corner lot at Wahsatch and Unitah for one-half price, $925. The congregation completed the first permanent church building in November 1903. The cost of materials, heat, light, furnishings and lot was $3,729. This building was 28 ft.x34 ft. with an annex of 16 ft.x22 ft., an 10 ft.x10 ft. entrance and a 38 foot tall steeple. The first parsonage was built on Wahsatch in1907, at a cost of $2,500. The Kansas Conference paid one-half the cost of the church building and the parsonage.

The Women’s Missionary Society was organized July 7, 1910. This group was the forerunner of the United Methodist Women.

In 1914, the city’s churches united for the Billy Sunday Evangelistic meetings. Calvary furnished ushers, workers and some singers for the 500-voice choir. Calvary continued to grow. In 1915, the congregation put a full basement under the church building for Sunday School rooms and socials at a cost of $575. The Colorado Conference of the Evangelical Association was organized in 1920, with Calvary as the host church.

By 1924, the congregation had completely outgrown the first building. It pledged several thousand dollars for a new building. In February 1924, the building was moved to 623 East Dale and 130 members worshipped there until the new building was completed on Wahsatch. The old building has remained in service by various church groups since it was moved. Whosoever Will Christian Center is located there now.

The laying of the cornerstone ceremony was on May 26, 1924. Four charter members were recognized at the ceremony. The new 45 ft.x84 ft. three story structure was built in Temple-Library style with four huge Corinthian pillars at the front entrance. A leaded glass art window, “Christ in Gethsemane” by Hofmann, faced the congregation from the south side. The cost of the new building and equipment was $32,724. A week of dedication services ended November 30, 1924.

In 1927, membership peaked at 176 and then declined during the depression years. To help pay for the indebtedness during the 1930s, the women of the church prepared and served individual chicken dinners to the public each Wednesday at noon for twenty five cents. As a young lad, Dwight Wenger hand cranked ice cream that was served as dessert with the meals during the summers.

In 1937, a beautiful used pipe organ was purchased and installed for $525. With generous financial help from the Colorado Conference, the building debt was paid off in 1943, 19 years after the dedication of the new structure. In 1951, Calvary evangelical Church became Calvary Evangelical United Brethren. In 1959, a new brick parsonage was dedicated by Bishop Sparks.

Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist Episcopal churches merged in 1968. The Rev. Lloyd Nichols served at the newly named Calvary United Methodist Church until 1972. During the 70th anniversary year, the Rev. Harvey Martz was appointed Pastor of Calvary. In September 1972, Calvary started a new mission congregation on the northeast outskirts of a growing Colorado Springs. The northeast mission met in the Dublin house Restaurant on North Academy Boulevard. Rev. Martz divided his time between the two congregations and the new mission prospered. In November, the downtown congregation voted to merge with the mission congregation, maintain the Calvary name and build a new church building on a four-acre site purchased by the Rocky Mountain Conference. The last service at Wahsatch and Unitah was held in February 1973. The building has remained in service to various congregations.

The combined congregation began worshipping in Penrose Elementary School, the office was in Bob and Velma Mercer’s home. Velma was the volunteer secretary. She did the bulletins, newsletters and any other clerical tasks.

Dwight Wenger chaired the building committee. Groundbreaking ceremonies at Austin Bluffs and Beverly were held on August 11, 1974 and construction began in September. Calvary celebrated the first service in the new building on February 16, 1975. An education wing was added in 1978 and the new Centrum and office area were completed in November 1982.

The building was designed to be multi-functional. For more than 35 years, Calvary has been the home of an outstanding preschool program. Calvary is the site for the Mercy’s Gate (formerly Northern Churches Care) food distribution and income tax programs, a cooperative program in which many local churches work together to assist people in need. Over the years, the Calvary Facility has been home to many community groups and is currently home to a Boy Scout Troop, Girl Scout Troop, Children’s Literacy Center, and is home to a number of families twice a year as part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network.

Calvary continues to support missions with our High School Youth, Middle School Youth, and Chicago Adult mission teams. Calvary is also one of the founding members of the Rocky Mountain Russian Initiative, which supports a United Methodist Church in Russia. This congregation continues to respond to the needs of people near and far in a rapidly changing world.

Senior Pastors

  • xxxx - 1968 - TBD
  • 1902 - xxxx - Rev. C.S. Steinmetz
  • 1968 - 1972 - Rev. Lloyd Nichols
  • 1972 – 1994 – Rev. Dr. Harvey Martz
  • 1994 – 1998 – Rev. John Olenyik
  • 1998 – 2001 – Rev. David Magiotta
  • 2001 – 2005 – Rev. Perky Taylor
  • 2005 – 2010 – Rev. Kahn McClellan
  • 2010 – Present – Rev. David Amrie

Associate Pastors

  • 1984 – 1992 – George Elgin

  • 1991 – 1994 – Keith Thompson

  • 1993 – 1997 – Jeff Huber

  • 1994 – 1998 – Betty France

  • 1998 – 2002 – Rhea Barningham

  • 2002 – 2005 – Andy Dunning

  • 2005 – 2010 – Ann McClellan