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Calvary History

Small Beginnings

In the spring of 1953, Pastor John Hall and his wife, Carlie moved their family moved to Florida feeling that God had called them to pastor in the Winter Park area. When they arrived, there was no congregation or church building to hold services in. They purchased two lots in a residential area and immediately began building a church. Located at 1919 Miller Avenue in Winter Park, the church was named Orlando Gospel Tabernacle. The first service was held with approximately 35 people in attendance on a dirt floor, which was raked before each service. A year later, the church became part of the growing fellowship of the Assemblies of God.


Dr. Dale Zink became the pastor in February of 1961 and a month later, the church was renamed Calvary Assembly of God. During Dr. Zink's ministry, an evangelist named Eddie Barg arrived for special meetings, which were extended for 13 weeks. The church grew and plans were made to build a new auditorium. Additional land was purchased and construction began in 1964 on a 500-seat sanctuary, which later became known as Johnson Hall in the current Education Building. Adjacent to the new church building, a lighted tower was built which quickly became one of the most recognizable landmarks in the area.
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Explosive Growth

In 1966, Eddie Barg became the pastor for four years until Pastor Roy Harthern came to Calvary Assembly when the congregation of just under 300 people. During the next 10 years, the church experienced phenomenal growth. The sanctuary was once again outgrown and the church offered multiple Sunday services (morning and evening) to accommodate those who came to worship. Because of the explosive growth, a fellowship group ministry was established to minister more personally to the needs of the growing congregation.
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New Buildings

After two years of planning and construction in December 1974, Calvary moved into the church’s third sanctuary rejoicing that our space problems were finally solved, but the 1400 seats were filled on opening day.

Increases in attendance in late 1975 made it necessary for the Youth Department to have its own Sunday morning service in order to make room in the sanctuary. A new 10,000 sq. ft. Educational Building was completed in 1978 to accommodate the growing Sunday School. In 1980, a third addition to the Education Building was added.
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More Explosive Growth

Alex Clattenburg assumed the responsibilities as Senior Pastor to the Calvary Assembly family in the fall of 1981. Capacity crowds attended three morning services and one evening service on Sunday. On November 4, 1984, the pastors and congregation broke ground and dedicated the site on Calvary's property where a 5000 seat sanctuary along with 25 educational rooms, television production and control facilities, and a choir and orchestra complex, Wedding Chapel, and Prayer Room was to be built. The new sanctuary was dedicated in the spring of 1987.
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Reducing the Debt

In May of 1990, Dr. Mark Rutland accepted the challenging role of Senior Pastor with a mortgage of almost 15 million dollars. A great miracle of growth and giving occurred and during Dr. Rutland's tenure at Calvary, the church was able to retire almost 4 million dollars on the mortgage.
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Moving The Mountain

On Easter Sunday, 1995, Pastor Clark Whitten was welcomed as Senior Pastor of Calvary Assembly. At that time, the debt was at 11.5 million. In February of 1996, the congregation enthusiastically pledged to give sacrificially above and beyond their tithes to the “Moving the Mountain" campaign to eradicate the debt. On September 24, 2000, the Mountain was Moved and a “Freedom Celebration" second to none was enjoyed by the congregation and many visitors.
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God Is On The Move!

On January 1, 2006, Pastor George Cope along with wife, Cheryl, joined Calvary Assembly and assumed the role as Lead Pastor. Having been a pastor for over 30 years, as well as having served as President of Zion Bible College in the Northeast, Pastor Cope brought with him a love for people and a desire to facilitate effective ministry through Bible teaching and discipleship training.
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A New Chapter

Calvary Assembly welcomed Ed Garvin as Lead Pastor on Sunday, February 9th, 2014. He previously served as the Lead Pastor of First Assembly of God, a multi-campus church with locations in Normal, Bloomington, and Elgin, Illinois. Ed and his wife, Jodi, have been married for 28 years and have two children, Lauren and Drew.

Pastor Ed's ministry strengths are in developing leaders and creating community in the church family. He has a heart for those who do not yet know Christ and is committed to reaching the lost by encouraging and equipping church members to become active participants in God’s kingdom.

Through the years, both nationally and internationally renowned ministries have had their roots at Calvary Assembly. These include “Rock House," the Jesus Festivals, Charisma Magazine, Buddy Break, and Crown Ministries, among others.

To those who have only observed from a distance, Calvary Assembly is synonymous for a big building. However, for those who have come close enough to know her heart, Calvary Assembly is really people….. people of all ages, from a variety of social and ethnic backgrounds, and from all walks of life. It is the desire of the leadership that Calvary's sphere of influence only increase so that the church will become all that God wants her to be and be a strong beacon to future generations. [Return to Top]
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