Church Cherry Street
Our church was incorporated on February 28, 1944. The city of Midland was then smaller in size and population, and the original church location was in an area that was plotted but had no streets except Michigan and Eastlawn. The location was at the site of what are now Cherry and Bayliss Streets.
When the church was organized, the small congregation called William A. Suk to be its first pastor. The Suks accepted the call and the challenge, living on a nominal salary.
The church owned two lots on Cherry Street and started out by constructing the basement. While the basement was under construction, the congregation gathered at a small community building known as Wheelock Park, near the area now occupied by Dietz Memorial Little League Park. The basement structure was completed in 1948, but the only access to Cherry Street was from Michigan Street. Occasionally, due to bad weather, the church was almost inaccessible. Eventually, a church program called “The Cherry Street Improvement Fund” was started. With city cooperation, Cherry Street received curbs, gravel, and a street light, which aided tremendously on dark evenings as the congregation was dismissed. Even with difficult situations, the church grew spiritually and in membership.
The congregation grew to overflowing, and in 1952 voted to expand the basement by adding a ten-foot addition to the south and east sides, building individual Sunday School classrooms to replace moveable partitions in the sanctuary portion of the basement. A new forced air furnace was installed, eliminating the use of three oil stoves. Most of the labor was accomplished by the men and women of the church.
The congregation continued to grow. A cornerstone was laid in October, 1956, to place a superstructure on the basement foundation. During construction, the Lord provided the use of the Community Center on George Street at a nominal cost for both Sunday and weekday meetings.
Finances were obtained to enclose the church building but insufficient to complete the interior. For about eighteen months, services continued at the Community Center and membership grew. During this period, the men of the church assisted in finishing the interior while more finances were obtained. Many of the church furnishings, including the organ and piano, were supplied by individual members. Even some non-member attendees assisted. Finally, the first service was held on a Sunday morning in February, 1958. It was an emotional service filled with joy, praise, and thankfulness to the Lord for His provision.
In 1963, the Reverend Mark Dickerson accepted the call to be our pastor. Under his ministry, the congregation continued to grow. An education building addition was constructed in 1966, and a Christian day school was begun in 1973.
With the need for more space for a growing church and school, the congregation approved the purchase of approximately twenty-five acres of wooded property on the corner of Perrine and Wackerly Road for $56,000 on January 30, 1974. The ground breaking service was held on Sunday, October 26, 1980, for a new Calvary Baptist Church building and construction began. When the first phase was completed in September, 1981, our first Wednesday evening service was held and Calvary Baptist Academy moved in. This first phase consisted of 23,000 square feet as a cost of $620,000. The 15,000 square foot, $450,000 second phase was begun in April, 1982, and negotiations to sell the Cherry Street property for $450,000 took place in May, 1982. The last church service at the Cherry Street building was held on Sunday, September 5, 1982, and the first service at Perrine Road was held on the following Sunday, September 12.
Calvary Baptist Academy started with kindergarten through grade eight with three teachers and approximately sixty-three students. Over the years, Calvary Baptist Academy has expanded to offer three-year-old kindergarten through grade twelve. There are now nearly 50 staff members with enrollment nearing 450
Pastor Mark’s son, Dan Dickerson, a 1965 graduate of Midland High School, joined the staff in May of 1979 as youth pastor and later became co-pastor with his father until Calvary Baptist Church suffered a great loss on Christmas day in 1988 when Pastor Mark Dickerson went home to be with his Lord. By that time Dr. Dan Dickerson had already assumed the role of senior pastor.
In 1995, the church had paid off its mortgage and was looking to the Lord’s leading and direction for the future. After much prayer and consideration the decision was made for further expansion by the construction of a new main sanctuary. Groundbreaking ceremonies took place in 1997 and the project was completed the following year. The present sanctuary is a beautiful place to worship and glorify God. To His glory these ever expanding facilities are used nearly seven days a week to equip saints for the work of the ministry.