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90 years of glorifying God

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In the summer of 1987, Troy Hassell walked through the doors at Calvary Gospel Chapel and immediately noticed two things: a multicultural body of believers and emphasis on teaching from God's word.

The Southampton church has gone through many changes since it started 90 years ago but it remains committed to those tenets.

“My hope, vision and desire for the future is to see Calvary continue to thrive,” Pastor Hassell said. “The central theme, the whole reason the church exists, has been to glorify God through the preaching of the word and through the fellowship and discipleship of the body of Christ. So as we grow and develop our hope is to have a larger outreach in the community, impacting many souls for the glory of God.”

Calvary only held services in Portuguese when it was founded in 1927.

By 1960, it was also offering one in English. The Portuguese service was eventually dropped after it became clear the congregation was comfortable without it.

“The elders back then had a vision to reflect the gospel and believed the church should mirror what the gospel does, by reaching people in every tribe, kindred and tongue. Even then they had a vision to make sure the glory of God was revealed in the church through its people.”

The church was led by such strong and dynamic preachers as Arthur Durnan, Mark Hall, Dave Burt and Louis Debeau before Pastor Hassell took over.

The father-of-four had no intention of joining the ministry full-time until Pastor Debeau was called to a different ministry in 1999. When the board was asked if anyone was prepared to serve, all fingers pointed to him.

“I resisted for a number of reasons but I committed to praying about it and sharing with my wife,” Pastor Hassell said. “A short while later I returned to the board and said, ‘If you believe this is what God wants for me then my wife and I will serve with you'.

“My heart had changed after receiving a clear direction from the Lord one day while reading from Proverbs 27:23-27, a passage that basically talks about knowing the state of God's flock and attending to His herds [and in response] He will take care of my family's needs.

“That was important to me because I had a young family of three children at that time and there is no money in pastoring — or at least there shouldn't be. It shouldn't be a way of getting rich, but God clearly communicated to me: ‘I will take care of you and your family so just go and serve'.”

Last month's anniversary celebration provided Pastor Hassell with an opportunity to reflect on where God has led him, his family and the church.

“Before entering full-time ministry, I was a salesman for many years and then a teacher and finally a counsellor at Bermuda College. Those earlier careers were all a part of my preparation to get me to Calvary, including my educational training.

“God used that situation to make me more dependent on him and to teach me humility. I've learnt the value of trusting the Lord and trusting that He has given me the skills to carry out the job He has called me to do, because sometimes we doubt it.”

Last month's anniversary celebration was led by the church's former pastor Dave Burt. The congregation then met for a luncheon.

“It was good to have the church come together over a meal and in the evening we had a testimony time where everyone was able to share about what Calvary meant to them over the years,” Pastor Hassell said. “It was so beautiful to hear what God has done in the lives of so many through this church. People shared how their marriage was saved and how their children grew in the Lord. One person said they didn't have a family and were looking for a community to identify with and Calvary became that for them.”

He's also proud of the number of young people who have come through Calvary's doors over the last three decades.

“Calvary is a beautiful place where families can grow together and in love with Christ,” he said. “We have a strong commitment to world missions and I'm thankful for the opportunity we have been given here in Bermuda through our relationship with various schools and seniors' homes in the area.

“Although we have gone through some transitions, we remain multicultural, Bible believing, family-oriented and have a clear commitment to the word of God. We also love people and care for each other.

“Central to our belief system is the gospel. I pray, going forward, the gospel is renewed and reawakened in the life of the church and we keep that as core to our ministry; to proclaim this good news so people will come to faith. The world becomes transformed through transformed individuals. You can't wave a magic wand. It's about people's hearts being impacted by Christ.”

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Published May 27, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 27, 2017 at 12:43 am)

90 years of glorifying God

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