Mt. Calvary Baptist Church to celebrate 170 years of ministry March 31

Published 10:10 am Monday, March 25, 2019

NILES — This month, a Niles church will celebrate a significant milestone and a historical legacy in the community.

March 31 will mark 170 years of ministry at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. Pastor Bryant Bacon said the congregants will recognize the occasion at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 31 with a service followed by a celebratory lunch. The event is free and open to the public to attend.

“The ministry has been around for a long time, and we want to share in that celebration,” Bacon said.

For Bacon, the milestone is more than just a big birthday for the church and its congregants. As the fifth oldest African American Baptist church in the state of Michigan, it also recognizes years of remarkable history.

Since its establishment in 1849, the church, formerly called Second Baptist, has been a pillar to the African American community.

“It began as a safe haven for slaves who came from the south,” Bacon said. “The ministry was really started for that. It provided a place of worship for slaves because even during that time there still was not a lot of interaction, integration between white and black congregations at that time.”

The church is also known to have ties with the Underground Railroad, Bacon said.

Today, the church is continuing its legacy to better the Niles community. Bacon has been a pastor at the church for the past 17 years. In that time, he said he has seen the congregants achieve a variety of goals to help their community.

“I think what we have done is build on what the church has already done,” Bacon said. “[It was founded] as a community church, and [we] are still.”

Notably, he said the church’s food pantry, the Mt. Calvary Helping Hands Ministry, has helped to provide groceries to families in need. The pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday. A clothing closet is also available through the ministry.

Bacon said he is also proud of the fellowship the church has provided to its members.

“Our mission statement says love Jesus. Love his word. Love his people,” Bacon said. “We figure, if we stick to that mission, we will continue to serve people in our community without trying to get anything back for it.”

As the congregation gathers together to celebrate 170 years, Bacon said they would reflect on the past and look to the future. 

“We have been here for 170 years, so what do we do for the next 170 years?” Bacon said.

Reflecting on the accomplishment, Bacon said he wants to see the church continue to build on its efforts to help the community.

“That is pretty cool to see history and then make history,” he said.