In 2006, God convicted the hearts of a couple named Steve and Julia McRae about the need for an evangelical and reformational church in the Calgary area that would be gathered around expository preaching. They began meeting on Sundays in a living room with another couple for Bible studies.
Around the same time, Clint Humfrey, a professor of Greek and New Testament at Toronto Baptist Seminary, had decided to return home to High River in hopes of seeing an evangelical and reformational school for ministerial training established in Southern Alberta. Steve asked Clint to preach in their living room to the believers gathered there. That November of 2006 was the start of Calvary Grace Church.
The small group began to grow quickly, and so in early 2007 meeting space was acquired at Rutland Park community centre in west Calgary. Among the new attendees were two men, Brock Pavier and Paul Toews, along with their families. The young congregation quickly began to look to Paul and Brock as leaders and mentors, and so Clint soon began training them as potential elders for the work of shepherding the flock.
At first, Calvary Grace Church met in the evenings on Sundays, and many of its families attended other churches at the same time. In early 2008, Calvary Grace moved its service to Sunday morning, and virtually all the families committed to attending the church as their home fellowship. That spring saw Calvary Grace Church reach a critical stage of maturity, as Brock and Paul were installed as elders alongside Clint that spring and formally began their pastoral ministry. This gave the young church a plurality of elders for the first time. Around the same time, a seminary student named Jeff Jones, forced to resign his role as a teaching pastor at a Southern Baptist church plant in Calgary because of discomfort with his teaching about sin, joined Calvary Grace Church with his family. He was taken on as a pastoral intern in the summer of 2008. Sunday morning services at this time were seeing an average of 50 adults in attendance, plus a growing number of children.
In 2009, Calvary Grace Church saw several important changes. The inaugural Calvary Grace Conference took place in January of 2009 featuring Dr. Art Azurdia as the speaker. The elders approved the church’s constitution and bylaws and incorporated the church with the Alberta government. Calvary Grace Church outgrew the little Rutland Park community centre and relocated the Sunday services to the Alexandra Centre in the Inglewood district of central Calgary. Jeff was installed as an elder in September of 2009, and the church registered as a charity with the federal government in October. Attendance continued to grow, approaching an average of 70 adults by the end of the year – and an annual “baby boom” added more young children each year!
Calvary Grace Church held its second conference in early 2010, bringing back Art Azurdia and featuring a second speaker, Vishal Mangalwadi, with a focus on “The Goodness of the Gospel.” The summer of 2010 saw Calvary Grace formally install its first two deacons, as Ben Hopman and Oly Ratzlaff were recognized by the congregation and installed by the elders. A formal church membership process was implemented in the fall of 2010. Calvary Grace Church entered the field of mission work as it joined a coalition of southern Alberta churches supporting the work of the Slavic Gospel Association in the Stavropol region of Russia, sending Jeff to visit the Stavropol region of Russia and teach a course on the Doctrine of God to Russian pastors and workers.
The summer of 2011 saw Calvary Grace Church bid farewell to elder Brock Pavier, who decided to pursue seminary studies at Wales Evangelical School of Theology in the United Kingdom.
The year 2012 started with great blessings from the Lord, as Terry Stauffer, previously of Edson Baptist Church, joined the leadership and was ordained an elder at Calvary Grace. Along with his wife Juanita and their children, Terry had joined Calvary Grace in the fall of 2011. Also joining Calvary Grace Church was Gavin Peacock, a former professional soccer player who had completed seminary studies in Calgary and who was leading a Bible study and men’s fellowship in Canmore. He and his wife Amanda, with their two children, began attending Calvary Grace at the end of 2011, and Gavin was appointed a Home Missionary with a focus on Canmore and Banff in February of 2012.
Gavin joined the elder board in early 2013 to give the church five elders. 2013 also saw Calvary Grace Church relocate its growing congregation from Alexandra to rented space in St John Lutheran Church in the community of Bridgeland. It was a very difficult year for Calvary Grace Church, however, not only seeing its first funeral but the virtual destruction of Pastor Clint’s home, and the forced temporary relocation of several church members, in the devastating June flooding of the Elbow, Bow, and Highwood Rivers in Calgary, High River, and elsewhere. God remained faithful and the church rallied to bear one another’s burdens. Pastor Gavin went to the United Kingdom, bringing Ben Hopman as an apprentice to accompany him. One development from Gavin’s ministry was the beginning of Calvary Grace’s relationship with 20schemes, a church planting ministry in Scotland which aims to establish new Christian fellowships in the neediest housing projects of the United Kingdom. 20schemes’ founder Mez McConnell spoke at our fall conference, along with 9Marks’ director Ryan Townsend.
2014 to 2015
2014 and 2015 saw new growth and challenges. The elders attended a 9Marks Weekender as a group in early 2014, returning to renew a strong emphasis on meaningful church membership, and Pastor Jeff took a group of Calvary Grace apprentices back to Washington DC the next year for the same event. Calvary Grace attempted to see new churches established in Okotoks and Canmore, but in God’s providence this was not to be. Regular membership meetings began to be held in 2015. Evangelistic outreaches were initiated in the neighborhood of Bridgeland and continue to this day. Pastor Gavin went to the United Kingdom each year, bringing Rob Snyder with him as an apprentice in 2014, and Jared and Gail Harfield in 2015.
2016 to Today
In 2016 we saw exciting developments in the life of our church. Calvary Grace Church has linked arms with churches across Canada, working to establish a Gospel Coalition Canada—a resource and fellowship ministry of which Pastor Clint is now a Council Member. Jared and Gail Harfield, after their visit to the UK in 2015, formed a close relationship with the pastor and saints of Highgate Road Chapel in London, with the exciting (but for Calvary Grace, bittersweet) result that Jared was called to be their Associate Minister beginning in the summer of 2016.
Today, Calvary Grace Church, with more than a hundred Gospel Partners and numbering close to 200 in regular attendance, is supporting mission work in the United Kingdom, helping ministries such as 20schemes and the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood expand their presence in Canada, and is seeking to raise up workers for service in the global church of Jesus Christ.