Some history of the Calvary Grace Church of Faith

By Rev. Robert Geckler

Founding and Incorporation

   Calvary Grace Church of Faith for many years provided education, certification for ministry, and ordination. The church and Calvary Grace Bible Institute were founded in 1954 by the Reverend Angelo C. Spern (1908 - 1991), a coal miner and later a steel-worker by trade. The church was formally chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in September of 1958.
    A Certificate of Incorporation for an associated church was applied for in the State of Florida on December 27th of 1971, and issued on July 28th of 1972.

The Church Seal
church seal   The seal of Calvary Grace Church included the year of founding "1958", and the church name of course. It also included the words of Pontius Pilate from John 19:5 in Latin, "Ec'ce Home". This translates as, "Behold the Man". In this scripture reference, Pilate was presenting Jesus, who had just been scourged, to the hostile crowd, bound and wearing a purple robe and a crown of thorns. There is no explanation further of this reference for the seal, but perhaps it was a foretaste of the reception Calvary Grace Church would receive by some in the religious community.

Some Stated Beliefs

    One of the most important aspects of Calvary Grace Church of Faith of Pennsylvania was, or is, that it highlighted the personal relationship with God, and that it is God who we serve. It is God who establishes the standards for our lives, and who ultimately decides our right or wrong. No man, and no "church" has the right to supersede the rule of God. One of the statements Reverend Spern frequently used in church writings was "If He calls you, He also qualifies you, and He ordains you."! The faith professed by Calvary Grace Church of Faith of Pennsylvania was unique for that era, in that it was simple and very inclusive. Perhaps even progressive in a certain way. The ordination and fellowship of the church was open to all, with no discrimination based upon race or gender.

    Clearly there were changes in the stated beliefs of Calvary Grace Church of Faith and the spin-off bodies as years went by, particularly as the 1970s moved into the 1980s and beyond. It may be that Reverend Spern's influence upon the body he founded was diminishing and others were placing their own beliefs upon Calvary Grace Church of Faith, especially through the various spin-offs. It appears that in latter years, the church was moving in a more conservative, and fundamental direction. It is not clear what brought about these changes, or who brought about the changes. It may well be that the openness and absence of original "stated beliefs" or creeds that Calvary Grace Church of Faith embodied was in fact responsible for much of this change as time went on, and leadership and involvement transitioned. Whether or not this was with Reverend Spern's blessing, we do not know.

    In some papers from the late 1970s, there are only a few mentions regarding any "statements of faith". One being headings stating "Our only message - Christ  Acts 15:11" ("No, we believe that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved, and so are they." NEB); and "Our only mission - others  Mark 16:15" ("Then he said to them: 'Go forth to every part of the world, and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation.'" NEB).

    There is also a statement that "The founders of Calvary Bible Institute (the educational arm of the church, also known as Calvary Grace Bible Institute) are all men and women, dedicated to the strict observance of the Bible as the 'Inspired Word of God,' to man. Each subscribes to the fact that the Holy Bible is true and not a myth in any sense of the word; as is being taught by some today. That part of the scriptures that we may not understand we are willing to accept by Faith." It is important to read this with the understanding of the freedom of personal belief between the individual and God as expressed in other areas of the material, which leaves the actual interpretation of such inspired scripture to the individual, who is answerable solely to God.

Sadly, Gone
    Sadly, Calvary Grace Church of Faith, as originally founded, has all but disappeared. It does however live on in the hearts and spirits of those it served, and through those it faithfully sent out in Gospel ministry!

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