Calvary Church makes move to former theater spotWritten by David Yonke Editor, ToledoFAVS.com | | David.Yonke@ReligionNews.com
Calvary Church will celebrate its move to the former Rave Motion Pictures Maumee 18 theaters with three grand opening services Jan. 6.
The distance between the old Calvary on Glendale Avenue and the new one on Conant Street measures just 2.3 miles, but the change in scene is as dramatic as some of the Hollywood cliffhangers that used to fill the screens at the ex-cineplex.
“As a church we weren’t looking to make a geographic move. It wasn’t something we had put on our master plan,” said the Rev. Chad Gilligan, lead pastor. “But we felt when the building became available, there was a leading from God for us to look into the purchase of it. We took one step after another and felt the Lord kept opening the doors for us, so we kept walking through them. We felt we were being obedient to God’s will.”
The old Calvary, on Glendale just east of Reynolds Road, had its worship services in a traditional 1,100-seat sanctuary with padded pews and a large stained-glass window behind the altar.
The new Calvary, whose 18 theaters and expansive atrium cover 93,000 square feet, is having worship services in a 525-seat converted movie theater. The building sits on a 33.5-acre site on Conant Street across from Urban Active fitness center.
The new facility features a café that provides free coffee plus the sale of snacks, soft drinks and such specialty drinks as mochas and lattes. Café proceeds go toward Calvary’s local, national and international missions projects.
Gilligan said the new location gives Calvary added visibility and the building’s history makes it appealing to many people in the Toledo area.
“We hear over and over from people who have had memories in this building. They went on their first date here, or saw their favorite movie here. The curiosity and the appeal of this building go beyond the norm,” he said.
The former movie theater was built in 1997 (“Titanic” played during opening week) and it was one of four local cineplexes bought by Dallas-based Rave Motion Pictures in January 2010.
Rave closed the Maumee 18 theater in June, 2010, citing a surplus of screens in the Toledo area, and Calvary purchased it for $2.98 million in December 2010.
The church, which has an average Sunday attendance of more than 1,000, spent $1.5 million renovating and remodeling the building. Improvements included a new look to the atrium with new carpeting and a central fireplace, a renovated café and seating areas scattered throughout the building.
Theater seats were removed from the floor of the largest theater to make room for a stage, and a Chicago firm designed and installed high-tech sound, video and lighting for the main sanctuary.
An adjacent theater carries live video and audio feeds for use as an overflow room.
One priority in remodeling was Calvary’s children’s and youth ministry areas, Gilligan said.
The renovations were scaled back, due to the expense, from original plans that called for knocking down walls between two theaters to create one large sanctuary. That project is set for an unscheduled phase two.
“We’ve been able to touch quite a bit of the building with just basic things that needed to be done, primarily electrical, lighting and technology,” Gilligan said. “We feel really good about the first phase because it gets us in the building and allows us to use and figure out how this church can best serve the church and the community.”
Another change for Calvary is a shortened name, having dropped its denominational affiliation, Assembly of God, when it moved. The Assemblies of God, one of the largest Pentecostal denominations, was founded in 1914 and has 3 million members in the United States and 65 million worldwide.
“In our culture, labels for churches don’t mean as much as they used to,” Gilligan said. “What we’ve found is that no matter what your church brand is, it can have a tendency to tell people not what you are, but what they aren’t. … We decided to make the brand less of a big deal so we’ll be able to have more people come and check us out. Nothing has changed in our theology or our practice.”
Grand opening services are set for 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Jan. at Calvary Church, 1360 Conant St., Maumee. More information is available online at www.toledocalvary.org or by calling the church, (419) 381-0254.
David Yonke is the editor and community manager of Toledo Faith & Values (ToledoFAVS.com), a website that provides in-depth, nonsectarian news coverage of religion, faith and spirituality in the Toledo area.