Baptist church has an international welcome

New deacon at renovated Calvary Baptist Church, Carrington Road, Spalding.'New Deacon John McGeorge-Oanta outside the church'Photo(TIM WILSON): SG241111-123TW.
New deacon at renovated Calvary Baptist Church, Carrington Road, Spalding.'New Deacon John McGeorge-Oanta outside the church'Photo(TIM WILSON): SG241111-123TW.
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THERE is already an international flavour to Calvary Baptist Church in Spalding which welcomes everyone, wherever they come from, greeting them with a “free handshake”.

It’s taking care of the little things like that that has drawn the mixed congregation to the Carrington Street place of workship, believes its deacon John McGeorge-Oanta.

John, who is married to Salostica, was the first British serviceman to marry a national from a former Communist country in that country, he tells me. A medic in the Air Force for nearly 20 years, the couple married in Romania. John was discharged from the RAF in 2006 because of ME and still suffers good days and bad days, and on those he can’t get out of bed.

The role of deacon is an unpaid one but John and Pastor Glenn Palmer, currently visiting a new grandchild in the States with his wife Charlotte, are the “two main servants of the church”, according to John. He says the role of deacon appears in the bible (in Acts) “when Stephen and a number of others were chosen as deacons to look after the widows and other members of the early church in Jerasulem”.

It is this active approach to caring for the congregation that probably encouraged a number of older women who went there when it was Spalding Evangelical Church to continue worshipping in the same place. The church has also welcomed an Armenian family into the congregation.

Spalding Calvary Church has been in Spalding since 1985, and was meeting at the Ivo Day Centre until it was offered the building in Carrington Road when Spalding Evangelical Church closed. The move took place a little over a year ago, and since then a lot of restoration has taken place, with new windows and doors installed and a new roof put on part of the building.

The services may be different to those previously held by Spalding Evangelical Church and John explains that there may be slight variations between Baptist and Calvary Baptist church services.

“With our church, we believe anything we do has to be governed by the bible,” says John. “So if we are looking for advice on how to proceed or tackle a problem we look to the bible for the answer.”

Controversially, this means the Calvary Baptist Church does not believe in female pastors, and John quotes sections from the bible that he says show God’s plan was for males to take all responsibility within the church. He is quick to add: “That doesn’t mean that women can’t have responsibility within the church, but it does mean we believe the people are to be led by a male pastor.”

The church believes in baptism – full immersion – although children are not baptised until they “come into a believing faith”, which is why Daniel (15), the youngest of their four sons and the last to be baptised, has recently undergone the ceremony. A service of dedication is held for babies.

This full immersion baptism is carried out in a permanent baptistry at the back of the church. The baptistry is at least five feet deep and has steps leading down to it – John and the pastor fill it with warm water when a baptism is to take place.

John says: “Some ladies come every Sunday morning and sit on the back row and it doesn’t bother them that the baptistry is below their feet.”

Among them is Eva (Enie) Hubbard (86), who has been running the mother and toddler group at the church for over 20 years, demonstrating that there is always a role for people in the church, whatever their age.

John adds: “We want to take anybody. We don’t mind if they are from Eastern Europe or the Western United States, we’ll welcome anyone that wants to come in.”

Calvary Baptist Church has Sunday Bible classes from 10am to noon, a family worship service at 11am and 6pm and other meetings throughout the week.