History of Calvary Chapel Roswell
It began how???
It may seem like an odd way to begin the story of Calvary Chapel in Roswell, but it all began back in July of 1985 when in God’s wonderful plan, Jim and Joanne Suttle were wed. One of the wedding presents was a free stay at a hotel in Roswell, NM. Neither Jim or Joanne had ever been to Roswell . . . but a free room is a free room! Which to this young couple, was a great blessing. So to Roswell they came!
While enjoying their honeymoon in Roswell, God impressed on both of their hearts that someday He would be bringing them back to this city. It was not an audible voice, but a clear impression that God would eventually have them move to Roswell. Over the next several years they visited a couple of times, but no doors opened, so it stayed in the back of their minds.
Several years later, God called Jim to be a pastor. It took a couple of years for God to get it through Jim’s thick head (and that is another story), but God in His great faithfulness made it clear that He had it for Jim to be a pastor. Once that was clear, it did not take long to put it together that God was going to have Jim pastor a church in Roswell!
Though the call of God was there, and the destination was pretty sure – yet God did not open the way to this move immediately. The years in between became years of intense preparation by serious study and experience which culminated in Jim attending the Shepherd School (pastoral school and internship) at Calvary Chapel in Albuquerque in 1993-94.
At the end of the school in June of 1994, Jim and Joanne sold their house and moved to Roswell! Knowing virtually no one in Roswell, Jim simply started a home Bible study on Thursday nights in their rented home. Invitations went out in several fashions, but mostly just through personal encounters and relationships. This home Bible study began slowly and continued to grow for about six months. Some great folks, several of which are still around, attended and faithfully prayed for what God was doing.
In February of 1995, it became clear that it was time to start services on Sunday morning. Looking for a place to meet, they found a God ordained opening at a local hotel. They would use their meeting room for services and a couple of hotel rooms for kids classrooms. For a year, Calvary Chapel of Roswell was a “set up/tear down” church each week. Do you want to know a funny part of this story? The hotel that the church started in back in 1995, was the same hotel that Jim and Joanne had their honeymoon in back in 1985! Coincidence? NOT! Even funnier is that Jim and Joanne did not put this together until the second week they were meeting there as a church! God has a definite sense of humor!
After meeting weekly in the hotel meeting room, Calvary Chapel of Roswell began looking for a more permanent home. Several leads were followed, but nothing was opening up. Then one day, Pastor Jim got a call from another pastor. It seemed he pastured a church right behind the hotel that Calvary Chapel had been meeting in. This small church was dwindling in numbers and sustaining their payments on their church was becoming impossible. This other pastor asked pastor Jim if they were interested in a building and if they wanted to lease his. Simple story, after coming and checking out the property here at 2901 W 4th, the answer was an overwhelming – YES!
As of the writing of this history (in 2009), Calvary Chapel of Roswell has been meeting officially for fourteen years, thirteen of which has been in this present property! God has done some awesome things! We were able to purchase and completely pay off the church property. God has provided to expand and renovate most every portion of the church – and there is always more to come! Far better, we have seen God bring into our midst and send out from our midst so many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! The true Church is not made of wood, bricks or sheetrock – it is made up of believers, whom God calls “living stones” that make up His church. (2 Peter 2:4) Our great joy and excitement is to watch what God is doing in the lives of His people!
Well, that is a little of our history – although much more could be written. Many times the question then comes, what next? Honestly, we don’t know – but we are excited. One of the neat things about reading through the book of Acts in the Bible is that it shows that the growth, plans and progress in the church were not invented, planned or caused by man. God was orchestrating, leading and often dragging graciously people into His will. We can look back and realize that God has brought us this far, that what He had for us and is doing in us – is so much Him. As we sit where we do, we look at the future in the same way. We are excited and even more trusting Him to lead us into all He has for us!
May God continue to grow and equip His people in serving Him, for His purposes and for His glory!
As we end this brief look at the history of Calvary Chapel of Roswell, it is appropriate to point out the “church verse”. Located on most of our stationary and more, you see Jeremiah 17 verses 7-8.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit." (Je 17:7-8)
In many ways….this verse describes the heart and hope for Calvary Chapel of Roswell. In fact, you can even see it in our Logo. As you may notice, our logo is a tree with a dove in the middle of it. That is a picture of our hope and desire for God’s work here.
Our great longing – is to see people totally "trust in the Lord"! To see them in a relationship with Him that is dynamic, firm and strong, leaning totally on Him.
We long for people to be “planted by the waters”. We see this as a picture of having a saving relationship with God. Jesus used a similar picture in John 15, where He likened us to branches connected to Him, the Vine. Everything we long for at Calvary Chapel is centered in this relationship with Jesus Christ and outside of this, we know that all else is emptiness and folly.
We long for people to “spread out..roots by the river”. To put their roots down deeply and draw from the Lord, He as the source, all that He has for them. In Ezekiel 47, God’s work and the work of the Spirit is pictured as a river the flows from God’s presence. This river becomes deeper and deeper as it goes on, picturing a growing relationship with God. For us, again, the dove in the center of the tree, is a reminder that this is the life we are seeking.
When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. … Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.” (Eze 47:7-12)
A tree thus abiding, rooted deeply in the Lord is healthy, pictured by words "its life will be green" . Our great longing is that we would be encouraging and edifying people in the Lord – so that they are healthy.
Lastly, these trees abiding and rooted deeply will not "cease from yielding fruit". This in many ways, is the aim of our Christian life here on earth – to fulfill the purpose He has for us, that His power, purpose and work would be displayed in us. Our longing is that through the ministry of Calvary Chapel of Roswell that people would be like these healthy trees planted by the waters!