This past Sunday, our church voted nearly unanimously to change our name from Calvary Baptist Church to Liberty Bible Church. Below is a brief history to give the context to our reasons why.
Our church was planted in 1956 with a small nucleus of families meeting at a building on Main St in Ellensburg. They named their church Main St Baptist Church (which makes sense), and the building they originally purchased on Main St still stands to this day (it is now Johnson’s Auto Glass). As the young church continued to grow, it saw many changes come in the first decade and a half of its existence.
First, they had several pastors come in for a time before moving on (four pastors in the first decade). Second, in 1964 they changed their affiliation from that of General Association of Regular Baptist Churches to that of Conservative Baptists Northwest – which we remain a part of to this day (though CBNW also changed their name in the last couple of years to that of Church Venture Northwest). The third change came in 1967 when the church moved from Main St to a piece of property off Vantage Hwy. It was this property, and the building that they built, that became home to our church for the next 43 years. When the church made the move to the Cowboy Ln property, they changed the name of the church to Calvary Baptist Church. That made sense since they were no longer located on Main St so the name Main St Baptist Church would seem to be very misleading.
As God grew Calvary, the building seemed to not be adequate to meet their needs. The church had three services every Sunday morning, the lobby was too small, and there was no real room to grow. At some point, they bought a large piece of land across the street with the intention of building a new and much bigger building. A campaign was started, plans were drawn up, and then the price tag was unveiled. While the church would sell its old building to help with costs, it might be better to purchase a large building in town for less than it costs to build brand new.
So, that is what the Lord brought about. In 2010, the church moved back downtown to its current location in the historic Liberty theater building at 5th and Pine. They purchased the Liberty building and an adjoining building (for classrooms and offices) for significantly less than it would have cost to have built a building. The desire of some at the time of the move was to do what the church had done so many years before, change the name of the church when you move to a new location. However, a concession was reached, and the name became Calvary Baptist Church at Liberty. It stayed connected to the past but updated to its present location.
Then, Calvary at Liberty sold their old building on Vantage Hwy to Calvary Chapel, so that now a Calvary occupied the place where a Calvary had been for decades. Confusing. Also, in recent years that have been a proliferation of Baptist churches being started in our town (5 at last count). On top of those things, people were calling us Liberty Church, Calvary at Liberty, Liberty Baptist Church, or Liberty at Calvary. Some clarity was needed.
The varying names and confusion of who we were was so much that when I arrived here five years ago, the executive pastor at the time said that we really needed to change the name of the church. I had heard that those types of changes can be tense, and being a new pastor here, thought it might be wise to wait on that for a bit. So, over a year ago, it came to the elders and we decided that this was the time. Over the last eight months, we have had three votes about it (all nearly unanimous), a couple of town hall meetings, and one unsuccessful marketing attempt to purchase the Liberty Mutual jingle and emu (liberty, liberty, liberty – I am kidding about purchasing them).
All that said, a couple of months ago our elders brought the name Liberty Bible Church to our church in a family meeting and asked them to pray about it and consider voting on it as our new church name. Liberty because we have a huge neon sign on our building and because it is a beautiful biblical picture of Christians being released from captivity to sin by Jesus (Luke 4:18). We want to be a church that proclaims liberty to the captives. And we preferred the name “Bible” over “Baptist” because no one really knows what a Baptist is anymore. The term is vague, and in our town alone, can mean you are Southern Baptist or independent fundamental Baptist of the King James variety. Other times it can mean Baptists who do not believe in biblical authority or inerrancy. We believe it to be more telling of a church today to stand firm on Scripture (i.e. the Bible) instead of a denominational name (that may or may not be what it originally meant). I could not believe that in our town hall meetings no one was able to state the Baptist acrostic (of course there is one).
So, that is why, if you have been used to seeing this website under the name of Calvary Baptist Church, you are now seeing it as Liberty Bible Church. Our prayer is that it will uniquely identify us in Ellensburg as a church that desires to glorify the triune God through worship, fellowship, and discipleship, that he might through us advance his Kingdom and impact his world. If you are looking for a church, and you have made it this far in the blog post, then you are awesome and you can find out more about our teaching here. You can also email me, Pastor Stephen (stephen at libertyellensburg dot org), and we can set up a time to meet over coffee and discuss more about our church and if it would be the place God has for you and your family to be equipped for the work of ministry.
soli deo gloria