CALVARY MEMORIAL

Calvary Memorial United Church, located in downtown Kitchener close to the Grand River Hospital and the Regional Cancer Centre, was constituted in 1921 as a mission outreach of Zion Evangelical Church. Since that time Calvary has experienced two denominational unions, one in 1946 when the Evangelicals became part of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and again in 1968 when the EUB Church joined The United Church of Canada. Calvary also has evolved from being a church on the edge of town to a church in the heart of the city. Both of these facts have had a major impact on it.

From its EUB tradition Calvary has had a commitment to adult education. An Adult Sunday School Class, the True Friends, still meets as a discussion group on Sunday mornings for study and fellowship. In addition there is a long tradition of holding Bible studies, seminars and workshops focused on both spiritual and social issues. Weeks of Guided Prayer and the use of the Labyrinth for meditation also provide spiritual nurture. Other g
roups meet to socialize, to serve, and to have fun together, including the United Church Women, the Retired Men’s Luncheon Group, a Single Women's luncheon group, 55+, Crossroads, and more recently a Breakfast Walking group and a Health and Wellness Dinner.

Calvary also has a commitment to missions. Calvary members are strong supporters of The United Church of Canada's Mission and Service Fund. The Outreach Committee leads the congregation in looking for  practical ways to help the less fortunate in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and in being advocates for social justice both in the community and around the world. Recent major projects have focused on the neighbourhood's needs. They include:
  • a Community Ministry jointly undertaken by Calvary Church and its neighbouring church, St. Mark's Lutheran;
  • the conversion of the Church Manse into a Family Lodge which for ten years provided affordable accommodation for clients of the Regional Cancer Centre and Grand River Hospital and their families. In the spring of 2015 a new partnership was formed which has resulted with a Syrian refugee family now making our former Manse their new home;
  • Sharing from Our Closets and Our Hearts, a project which provides clothing for the women enrolled in "Focus for Change", a Conestoga College program for employment readiness and self-development. Sadly, Conestoga College is discontinuing the Focus program but Calvary is hoping that there may be a similar program that might benefit from a getting-ready-for-business clothing event
  • the services of a family counsellor who provides low cost counselling for people in the community in exchange for office space in the church 
  • Habitat for Humanity which provides meals and snacks during builds in the area. 
  • providing space for an NA meeting and Cherry Park Association group activities.
  • a Parish Nurse working with a new Health and Wellness Team to serve health and spiritual needs of Calvary folks and beyond.
Through worship, service, study, and fellowship, Calvary tries always to be faithful to its purpose: to be a congregation rooted in God's love, inviting and empowering all people to experience the full life in Jesus Christ, as we journey together in faith.


ZION AND CALVARY, A MOTHER-DAUGHTER STORY

In the beginning ... in the 1930's German speaking folks in Waterloo county approached the "Albright people (Evangelicals) to send missionaries to this area. In 1839 the first camp meeting was held in what is now known as Hillside Park, Waterloo.

In the same year the Evangelical Gemeinshaaft Associatopm was established in Berlin. This would in time become Zion Evangelical Church. 

In 1892, as Zion grew, the mission dream of a church in the growing North War of Berlin began to take shape. When peace finally came in 1918 the idea took hold of this Mission Church being

"A memorial of gratitude to Almighty God for His direction in the affairs of the world."

 In 1919 a lot was purchase on Tuerk Street (now Park Street) for $2700. with $1000 down. An old dwelling house on the lot would become, as the sign would state "West Ward Mission Sunday School, Each Sunday at 9AM".

In the "Little Shack" as it was affectionately known, the first Sunday School was held on January 26, 1920, and the first Worship Service on July 25, 1920. Many of those attending came from Zion. 

The sod was turned on August 16, 10920, and the cornerstone laid on October 22. In June, the Sunday School moved from the crowded conditions and leaky roof of the Little Shack into the new building. On September 10. 1922 Calvary Memorial Evangelical Church was dedicated by Bishop L.H. Seager.

Calvary could not have happened without the financial support of the people of Zion. Mr. Jacob Kaufman offered to bear one-half the expense of the new church which had a total cost of $50, 295.46 (including the lot). Many others followed his example with financial and prayer support and a number transferred their memberships to Calvary. Zion's financial support would continue into the 1930's. 

Rev. M.G. Geil, Associate Pastor to Zion's Senior Minister, Rev. J.P. Hauch, who led Zion through the trying years of World War 1, became Calvary's first full-time minister in 1923. 

In 1924 Jacob Kaufman's widow, Mary, donated the present pipe organ on the condition that Calvary pay for the construction of the stairs from the choir room. 

The parsonage was build in 1928-29 at a cost of $6,700. The congregation raised $1,200 and was left with a debt of $5,500. 

Financial support from Zion continued until 1938 when the last of Calvary's debt was retired.

Calvary always considered herself to be a daughter of Zion and in time, when Zion's congregation felt they could no longer sustain a very large building, it was sold and most of the members transferred their membership to Calvary. From the sale of the building Zion established a legacy fund which made it possible in 2016 to establish a Parish Nurse Ministry at Calvary. Another "daughter of Zion', Olivet United Church found itself in a similar financial situation and when the congregation disbanded a number of their members chose to make Calvary home. Thus Zion and two of her "daughters" have come together once again to continue a long history of worship and service.