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Calvary Baptist Church (Manhattan) facts for kids

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Calvary Baptist Church, a "skyscraper" church at 123 West 57th Street, between the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) and Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City
Calvary Baptist Church entrance
The "Gothic Tudor" entrance to the building

Calvary Baptist Church is located at 123 West 57th Street between the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) and Seventh Avenue, near Carnegie Hall in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It is an independent, non-affiliated church.


The church was founded in 1847, and its first sanctuary was at 50 West 23rd Street, completed in 1854. It then moved to a red sandstone Gothic church designed by John Rochester Thomas at its current location, which was built in 1883-1884. It also had a chapel at 223 West 67th Street, which was later used by St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Church.

The most recent building is an early example of an urban high-rise, or "skyscraper" church, a 16-story building which also included the Hotel Salisbury, an apartment hotel. Planning for the edifice began in 1929, with the design credited to the firm of Jardine, Hall & Murdock, and the building was dedicated in 1931. The church's two Steinway grand pianos were donated to the church by pianist Van Cliburn, who attended periodically while living in the hotel.

in 1923, Calvary was one of the earliest churches to operate its own radio station and has a long tradition of widely followed religious broadcasts. "Tell It From Calvary" is a radio show that the church still produces weekly; its heard on WMCA AM570.

Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton have worshipped at Calvary, Billy Graham and Billy Sunday have preached there.

In early 2020, Calvary Baptist Church and the Salisbury Hotel closed so demolition could begin and make way for a new building. The new building is anticipated to break ground in 2021. After completion, the new office building will include a new space for the church. Meanwhile, the church had met in alternative venues before New York's Covid-19 related social distancing requirements necessitated holding services and Bible studies via Facebook.

Senior Pastors

  • 1847-1849 David Bellamy
  • 1850-1852 John Dowling
  • 1852-1863 A. D. Gillette
  • 1864-1869 R. J. W. Buckled
  • 1870-1911 Robert Stuart MacArthur
  • 1915-1917 Joseph W. Kemp
  • 1918-1929 John Roach Straton. During his tenure, Calvary was nationally known as a center for fundamentalism and efforts to reform society in his vision of Bible-based morality.
  • 1930-1934 Will H. Houghton Houghton resigned from Calvary's pulpit to serve as the fourth President of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL.
  • 1936-1949 William Ward Ayer A poll found preacher and religious broadcaster Ayer to be Manhattan's "third most influential citizen" behind Eleanor Roosevelt and religious broadcaster Bishop Fulton Sheen.
  • 1950-1957 John Summerfield Wimbish
  • 1959-1973 Stephen F. Olford Olford "took it as a challenge to seek to overcome prejudice" and the church was desegregated under his leadership. Today, the church "celebrates [the] congregation’s ethnic, racial, social-economic, generational, and cultural diversity within [the] unity in Jesus Christ" as one of its core values and that "reflects what heaven will look like one day."
  • 1976-1986 Dr. Donald R. Hubbard
  • 1989-1994 James O. Rose, Jr.
  • 1997–2018 David Paul Epstein
  • No current Pastor


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