In 1947, Missionary Eugene F. McMillan was serving on the island of St. Vincent when he felt led of the Lord to visit St. Lucia to conduct exploratory work and to report to the his headquarters at the Baptist Mid-Missions in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. Missionaries Bill Grant and Eugene F. McMillan were very instrumental in the assignment of the First Baptist Missionary to St. Lucia.
On February 25th 1948, the Woosters arrived in St. Lucia and the First Baptist Church was established in the capital city Castries. Not long after, the McMillans came to the island to conduct missionary work in various parts of the island along with the Woosters.
In 1953, missionary work began in the small fishing village of Gros Isle and Mr. William Sealy along with members of his family accepted Christ as Saviour. A weekly Bible class was started in the home of the Sealys and very soon, other persons residing there made professions of faith.
The Bible class grew and it soon got too crowded to continue in the Sealy’s home so missionary McMillan suggested they look for a place where they could build a Gospel Center in the village. The search for a lot in the village area was a matter of earnest prayer. Not long afterward, a corner lot was found and the men went to the nearby mangrove to cut poles from the trees. An open shelter was erected on St. john’s street using coconut branches as roofing material and the coconut stem as benches. Brethren of Faith Baptist Church of La Clary and other churches came to help erect the new structure. This new structure and endeavor was called the Baptist Gospel Center. It was helped to a good start by hosting the following conference of Baptist Churches and the Lord continued to bless them thereafter. The Bible Class continued, a Sunday School was eventually started, children’s meetings organized and evangelistic meetings held – with nationals doing the preaching. Many souls trusted Christ as Lord and Saviour and believers were strengthened.
Over the next two years, three young men from this ministry became preachers, two of them went on to graduate from the Baptist Bible School in St. Vincent. One of them was Emmanuel Charles from them village of Gros Islet. He later went on to become the pastor of Faith Baptist Church.
Three years after the first shelter was built, it became too small to house the growing congregation, so a dwelling house with adequate shelter and facility was rented from a lady called Ma Holmes, a shop-keeper on Notre Dame Street. As the work progressed, missionaries Margorie Mitchell, Audrey Finkbeiner and Iris Castle came to the island in 1953 and labored faithfully to keep the work going through Vacation Bible School, Bible Club and other activities. The Church was established in 1955 as Calvary Baptist Church, with six (6) charter members.
In 1968 Missionary Robert Vance of the United States of America was assigned to the work at Gros Islet. Pastor Emmanuel Charles was the assistant pastor from 1968 to 1973 before he was called to be the pastor of Faith Baptist Church. The church took the gospel message to the neighboring communities and very soon the church building got too small. Missionary Vance then challenged the church to give toward a building fund in order to build a new church. The target was “68 in 68.” Trying to raise $68.00 in 1968 was very difficult for the church members. On December 31, 1968 Missionary Vance gave $50.00 to the fund in order to reach the target.
In 1969 a parcel of land at Massage was purchased and a church build to accommodate approximately sixty (60) persons. The church building was dedicated in 1970 with approximately twenty (20) members. With a transportation ministry serving the surrounding communities, the church continued to grow and the believers strengthened in faith. Five years later the church called Pastor Hilicious Hippolyte as its first pastor after Missionary Vance’s term ended. Four years later Pastor Hippolyte resigned and the church called Pastor Cyril Hilton who served for twelve (12) years.
In 1980 the island was severely affected by hurricane Allen and the church building was partially destroyed, The building was restored with much needed help from a Canadian team from Bayfair Baptist Church, Pickering, Ontario, headed by Pastor Sam Martin in 1988. The building was dedicated in February 1989.
In 1991 Pastor Cyril Hilton resigned and the church was administered by a pulpit committee of five (5) men; Brothers Kenty Pamphile, Allison James, Joseph Charles, Robert Lee and Wallis Joseph. In 1997 the church agreed to move to the Eldership form of church government and the constitution was amended to reflect this. The five men of the pulpit committee were called and ordained as Elders on February 9th 1997. Elder Kenty Pamphile was chosen by the other Elders to the first Chairman of the Board of Elders. He held this position until 2006. Elder Joseph Charles succeeded him. In 1998, Elder Wallis Joseph died suddenly.
The Elders and church officers meet monthly the guide the management of the church business. The Elders meet as often as they need to for prayer and to discuss pastoral matters. The Elders were given special responsibilities that reflect their gifts. All Elders preach and teach regularly according to prepared schedules.
In 1999, a church was started by Calvary Baptist Church in the community of Rivere Mitant. Services are held twice a week, on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings.
At Calvary Baptist Church there are several Sunday school classes, a Wednesday night prayer and Bible study meeting, ladies and youth groups, and a church choir.
The radio programme, “Grace Baptist Hour”, once produced by Pastor Joseph Fevrier of First Baptist Church, was taken over by Calvary, and the broadcasts are shared by all the Elders.
The annual church anniversary is held in February. Speakers have come from the USA, UK, Jamaica and Antigua. Calvary Baptist Church has developed and maintained relations with sister churches in various places. The Church is twinned with the Community Baptist Church in Neptune, New Jersey. Members of the church have travelled to conferences in the USA and Caribbean islands.
Taking as their key verse of Scripture “prayer and the ministry of the Word” [Acts 6:4] the Elders, with the full support of the members, have maintained a strong gospel-preaching and teaching pulpit. Growth has been steady and baptisms take place regularly.
The physical plant has developed steadily with expansions in building and parking space. A plot of land in the nearby developing Rodney Heights area was acquired and is seen as an investment for church growth in the future.