Calvary Baptist Church had its beginning in October 1930, when five adults and four children met in the home of Rev. R.B. Dixson at 1211 N. Vine Street. Those in attendance were Rev. Robert B. Dixson, Rev. Marion Mitchell, Rev. Edward Rogers, and Sis. Estella Dixson and Bro. Henry Jackson. The children were Sis. Ernestine Dixson (Curry), Bro. John Tobias Dixson, the late Sis. Bobbie Dixson (Benford), and the late Bro. Gordon Dixson. Later they met at a rental property at 1017 North Larrabee on the fourth Sunday in December 1930. On that Sunday evening, the first sermon was preached by the late Rev. Ebenezer B. Dixson, the father of the late Pastor Robert B. Dixson.
The late Rev. J.A. Wimberly of the Baptist council organized this group into a church in February 1931. The total membership of thirty-two accepted the name “Calvary Baptist Church,” suggested by Sis. Ernestine Dixson (Curry) and Rev. Robert B. Dixon was unanimously elected Pastor. The first officers were: Deacons Joe Green, Jerry Lee, and Henry Jackson. Bro. Jackson held the office of Treasurer and President of the BTU, Secretary was First Lady Estella Dixson, Missionary President Sis. Minnie Rogers and Sunday School Superintendent Rev. Marion Mitchell.
The first revival was held that spring with Rev. Samuel Russell as evangelist. Five candidates were baptized on the following Mother’s Day: Sis. Bernice Jefferson, Sis. Ernestine Dixson (Curry), Bro. John T.Dixson, Bro. Howard Harrison and Sis. Inez Harrison. (All children). From 1933 to 1935, services were held at 475 West Division. But when conditions became unsatisfactory, the church moved to Hudson and Locus Streets holding services with Cumberland Presbyterian Church. During this period, the church joined the Antioch Baptist Association, which fellowshipped with us annually, of which Rev. E.J. Cole was vice moderator. From 1941-1946 services were held at 215 W. Oak Street, a leased property. In 1945, a church home was purchased at 221 W. Oak Street a renovated print shop. On the fourth Sunday in November 1946, Dedication Services were held.
After the death of Pastor Dixson in January 1962, Rev. Andrew Mitchell, Associate Minister, became Minister-in-Charge assisted by Rev. John Graham until the death of Rev. Mitchell six months later. In February of 1962 Rev. Luther Hicks was elected Pastor and served until October 1963, leaving to become the chaplain at Pontiac Correctional Facility in Pontiac, Ill. Rev. John Graham served as Minister-in-Charge until Rev. C.R. Phillips was elected Pastor on November 22, 1964.
Under the leadership of Pastor Phillips, Calvary planned and rallied to gain a new church home on the south side of Chicago. In 1967, 3 lots were purchased at 100th and Michigan Ave. In 1968, our church building at 221 West Oak Street was sold. In July 1969, a ground breaking ceremony was held at 100th and Michigan. Calvary held services temporarily at 10234 South Wallace in the upstairs auditorium of the Mt. Messiah Baptist Church from May 1969 until June 1970. Deciding it was not expedient to build at that time, Calvary then purchased the church home at 8201 South Jeffery (a former Jewish Synagogue) in June 1970. Within six years, the mortgage was burned. In 1971 Pastor Phillips then organized a Building fund Committee with Attorney John Tobias Dixon as Chairman and Sister Amanda Hawkins as secretary. In 1975 Deacon Steve Zanders and Deacon Phillip Ratcliff became Building Fund Chairmen with Sister Ernestine Burrell as secretary. Land was purchased at 8247 South Jeffery, our current address, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held October 25, 1981. With the planning of our Building Fund Committee (Dea. Steve Zanders, Dea. Phillip Ratcliff, Sis. Bertha Mitchell Smith, Sis. Jeannelle Hartfield, Sis. Earnestine Burrell and Sis. Ollie Williams) and the support of all members, the building construction began April 1982.
On Sunday February 16, 1984, we marched up the King’s Highway to our present edifice. The late Mayor Harold Washington was our guest speaker, one of the many dignitaries present. In four years we were successful in completing our endeavors and held a Mortgage Burning Ceremony on October 23, 1988.
Pastors Phillips vision continued to be fulfilled with the addition of the C.R. Phillips Daycare Center, Calvary’s Children’s Church (March 1989), and Calvary’s Cultural Center Annex, a full food pantry and clothing ministry. The Calvary Annex Expansion Plan took place in 1991. The committee consisted of six women and three men. Sis. Deborah Hoyles, Chairperson, Sis. Versie Atlas, Sis. Velda Bracy, Sis. Josephine Hendricks, Sis. Collette Mann, Sis. Jean Webber, Dea. Jefferson Perry, the Late Dea. Frank Rodgers and the late Dea. John Toliver. The building project was completed in 1995, with Pastoral and secretarial offices, a library, a banquet hall, a daycare, and thirty classrooms. In 2005, Pastor C. R. Phillips passed away, after forty years of service in the vineyard of our Lord.
In May 2006, Rev. E.N. Jennings, Jr. was elected Pastor of Calvary. After eleven months, he was directed to move in another direction. On September 15, 2008, after a time of much prayer, the Lord blessed Calvary with its current Pastor, Rev. Dr. James R. Flint, Jr. Pastor Flint has brought a renewed spirit within the church and Calvary is experiencing a spiritual renaissance. By implementing his weekly bible study, Ministry Leader’s Council, other impactful ministries and technological advancements he is showing his love and concern for the edification of the body of Christ.
The Spirit of God is moving in Calvary as we look onward to the future embarking upon a new chapter in the history of the church, fulfilling the destiny that God has established for us, and the community.