A Community Ministry of Calvary Baptist Church

Calvary Cares Mobile

by Linda Weller - Telegraph on May 15, 2017
(Photo Caption - John Badman, Telegraph) Pastor Andre Dobson, left, and Pastor Marc Lane in front of the newly renamed Calvary Cares building, formerly Cornerstone Ministries, at the corner of Washington Avenue and Brown Street in Alton.

ALTON — An Upper Alton church is extending its ministry to help even more people in the community, recently changing its name to reflect its actions, rather than its building.

 “In 1999, Calvary Baptist sensed a call to go deeper into the community and Cornerstone Ministries was founded,” said Marc Lane, chaplain — including for the Alton Police Department — and director of the ministries that the congregation recently voted to rename, Calvary Cares.

“Changing the name was for a better picture of what the ministry is all about,” he said. “Cornerstone, in our minds, was more of a physical place. We are a moving body throughout the community.”

Calvary Cares, with its new sign and logo, is located inside the former Cornerstone building adjoining Calvary Baptist Church, 1422 Washington Ave. Lane and Senior Pastor Andre Dobson simultaneously came up with the idea of changing the name. “We both said Calvary Cares represents a mission and philosophy of our church,” Dobson said. He referred to Chapter 5 of the book of Matthew in the New Testament, about letting their “light” shine, thereby reaching people, rather than only worshipping inside confines of the church. “That’s not what we wanted, we wanted something to describe our ministry in the Alton-Godfrey community, because God cares for us and Calvary Cares cares for people in the community,” Dobson said. “We are the church gathered, and the church scattered. God has called us to scatter and help the community. We are making an impact, taking the Gospel to the people. We do what we do because it is Scripture.”

Cornerstone, designed to be a place of refuge, over the years offered counseling and support groups for people experiencing divorce, addiction and grief. It also has assisted people with finding employment, transitional housing and transportation.

For Calvary Cares’ focus, Lane and others involved in the ministry compiled a Top Ten list of projects to undertake this year, some of which continue work the ministry already had been doing. At top of the list is, “Total Room Makeover,” where church volunteers completely overhaul bedrooms of all children in a family. The work can include refinishing the furniture, installing new carpeting, buying bedding, repairing walls and ceilings, painting and other decorating, plus ensuring there is a desk or other study area and a gifted Bible. “We reached out to the community to identify some students who would benefit by some encouragement, to redo their bedroom and provide a place to study, hang out with their friends and family,” Lane said. “We want to encourage our children to read.”
In 2016, the volunteer teams redid bedrooms housing 14 children, and so far, plan to fix up seven bedrooms that house one or two children each in August. Wade Dobson, the pastor’s son and student minister of students and discipleship, said the renovation teams encourage other students in the community to help them overhaul the bedrooms, besides those who attend Calvary. He also is on a team of “renovators.” “For me, it’s the opportunity, especially with our young people in this community, when you get involved a little bit, you see the greatness of the need,” he said. “We do what we can. We trust the Lord to take care of the rest. We want the community to know God cares.” He said getting younger church members involved in mission activities is key to the 1,000-member church’s survival, when many Protestant churches are closing. “We used to talk about a generation that no longer attends church, now we are talking about people who never attended church,” Wade Dobson said. “We don’t take the approach that they have to wait their turn. They need to be engaged now.” “They need more than sitting and absorbing,” Andre Dobson said. “They want to get out” and do ministry work.

Last year, Calvary Cares’ Home Improvement Team led volunteers in building the Outdoor Classroom pavilion for Alton Middle School students to use in adjacent Rock Spring Park. They returned this spring to construct four sturdy, wooden octagonal tables with pedestals that seat 32 students.
On May 7, the church held two law enforcement memorial services that Lane said packed the worship center. Alton police honor guard was present; Calvary’s “Police Prayer Warriors” prayed for officers. Later this month, the church will hold a city leadership luncheon for Alton officials to share the church’s vision and to better get to know the mayor and department heads. In yet another Top Ten effort, Calvary will hold its third annual, Gospel Music Festival at the outdoor class room in Rock Spring Park on July 28-29. To further help children in need — also assisting teachers — Calvary provides back-to-school supplies on educators’ wish lists to distribute in the classroom as needed. Members will write thank you cards to go with the supplies, and provide gift bags of goodies, “Teacher Survival Kits,” a thumb drive loaded with a new, “Thank you” video and other church materials. The church’s LIFE Groups also will shop, pack and deliver brown bag lunches for the neediest, nearby East Elementary School students to take home over long holiday weekends during the upcoming school year, which also will contain an invitation to ministry activities.
The church also will continue its “Surviving the Holidays” community-wide grief seminar in cooperation with Gent Funeral Home of Alton; and provide hams and turkeys to families in need and buy gifts for about 135 children through the “White Christmas” project.

“The Top Ten doesn’t scratch the surface of what we are involved with, and what we wanted the church family to get involved with,” Lane said.