One of the oldest churches in Clearwater is celebrating 150 years.
Calvary Baptist Church was founded in March of 1866, said Pastor William Rice.
“As best we can tell it’s the first church in Clearwater,” Rice said. “At least the first Baptist church in Pinellas, one of the first churches in the area.”
The church founded as Midway Baptist Church and eventually became Calvary Baptist in the 1920s. Many Florida families grew up in this church, including Leigh Anna Mullett and her husband Kyle.
“I was born and raised in this church,” she said. “My mom was a member here, started over 56 years ago. My grandfather was actually Minister of Education in the 60s.”
Leigh Anna and Kyle met while attending Calvary Christian High School – a high school ran by Calvary Baptist. They married in the church, just like Leigh Anna’s parents. The couple sings during the service, and Kyle plays the acoustic guitar.
They hope to raise their future children in the church.
“It’s a huge honor to just know everyone that’s gone before us, including my family,” Leigh Anna said. “We get to be a part of such a wonderful thing, wonderful legacy and hope to continue that in the next 150 years.”
Pastor Rice also grew up in the church. He said the church has been able to grow and flourish with the evolving community – and that’s key to the church’s longevity.
“Church is the one organization that’s founded for people who aren’t here,” Rice said. “It exists for people who aren’t in the building, who are outside. To me, as long as a church stays focused on carrying its message to people on the outside and to serving the needs to the community on the outside, it stays relevant, vibrant, and needed.”
Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos declared March 25 Calvary Church Day in Clearwater.