ASHLAND In 1955, the Hotel Ventura, which reached the downtown Ashland skyline at the southwest corner of Winchester Avenue and 13th Street, became the headquarters of the brand new Calvary Baptist Church. . The Ventura brings back fond memories for people who recall its glory days.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, it was also the home of WCMI, and people could see future national broadcasting stars like Chuck Woolery and Noah Adams, through a first floor window, playing records .
Ventura was a stylish destination for travelers for a long time until it closed, and Calvary had its own long run to spread the message of Jesus Christ.
A historical CBC document says: “On August 25, 1955, a group of 24 Christians were organized into Calvary Baptist Church of Ashland, Kentucky, under the authority of King’s Addition Missionary Baptist Church, South Shore, Kentucky.
The late John R. Gilpin Jr. was Calvary’s first pastor. When asked about 1955, Calvary founding member Rhoda Smith said, “1955 was the year I got married” (while laughing happily), adding that I was 18. Smith’s brother was Pastor Gilpin. “He was not a pastor there (King’s Addition). He just helped them sometimes.
Smith said his brother has been pastoring First Baptist Church Russell for more than 30 years. Asked about her father, Smith said, “He wasn’t a pastor. In fact, he wasn’t saved until he was old enough.
Calvary’s last meeting, Jan. 6, 2019, unfortunately took place at Community Hospice in Ashland because CBC’s last pastor, Jon Rule, was residing there. “The church voted to give John Gothard and me authority to dispose of church property. Jon ran the meeting,” Judy Rule said. Judy was Pastor Rule’s sister and said that she, Pastor Rule, and Gothard were the only remaining members of the church. She said there were only three participants that they brought people to the community hospice to witness. Two days later, Pastor Rule died. His wife, Diane Rule, died three months earlier on October 1. Pastor Rule had retired after serving as pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Taylor, Michigan, for nearly 30 years. Around 2003, he and Diane moved to Ashland to be near his mother, Ruth Rule and Judy. A few years later, Calvary needed a pastor, and Rule answered the call, delivering three sermons a week.
Judy Rule and Gothard made plans that would be a service to students, helping to obtain an education in Christian schools. They decided to donate the proceeds from the sale of the church and parsonage of Floyd Street Church to provide scholarships for students to attend Rose Hill Christian School in Ashland and Grace Christian School in Huntington . The parsonage had been used as rental property for several years since the pastor and Mrs. Rule had their own home.
“We wanted, the heritage of the church, finally the heritage of the whole country, and everything is in the hands of the Lord of course. Young people, giving someone the opportunity to change their life is really important. and John Gothard and I agreed on that,” said Judy, of herself and Gothard, both longtime Calvary members, deciding to donate scholarship money.
“They were able to buy, I think there were about three deeds to that property because they were small. They were just junkie places there,” Judy said of the area in the mid-1960s where Calvary Baptist was later built at 3339 13th Street.
Judy said records indicate that in 1965 a basement was dug and covered so it could be used.
“They had a Bible conference the year I came here,” said Rule, a West Virginia native who moved to Ashland in 1967 after finishing graduate school at Indiana University. She said, “That was their first conference in this church.”
Judy said the shrine which was built above the basement opened in 1972.
The gifts that Calvary has given will be useful for a long time.
“We will leverage interest and may sponsor scholarships each year. We will try to save the capital and use the interest for scholarships. This way, it will maintain scholarships that last forever. Rose Hill is very excited and grateful that Calvary Baptist is thinking of us and helping us,” said Rose Hill Christian School Principal Dr. Lonnie Laney. He said Calvary donated $100,000. “We have a lot of children in the area who need it. Part of it would be a need-based scholarship. This will be one of the criteria for getting children who might need a little extra financial help. We have not yet decided how much we will give to the children. Some years we may be able to give more than others. We will definitely give scholarships in the name of Calvary Baptist.
RHCS started in 1980 initially with elementary grades and additional grades each year. “I think the first high school class was around 1986,” Laney said.
“Calvary Baptist gave Grace Christian School a scholarship fund ($100,000) to use for training young people. The annual award will be equal to a full-time tuition payment at the school. So next year the tuition is just over $7,000. The scholarship will be awarded to at least two students. So each student will get about $3,500, you know, in different installments,” Grace Christian School Principal Dr. Dan Brokke said, adding, “It will increase as our tuition increases.
“There will be a plaque that will be hung near the school office in memory of the recipients. I would say we are extremely grateful for the gift and for the continued ministry of Calvary Baptist Church in investing in young people receiving a Christian education,” Brokke said, adding, “It was a wonderful gift from the Lord. and of the people. at Calvary.
GCS opened in 1978 in West Huntington. “We are regionally accredited and I think we have 20 graduates in this class,” Brokke said. “What better way to invest than in the lives of young people.”
CBC donated books from its well-stocked library to Faith Baptist of Quincy, Lewis County.
“They had books that dated back to the 1700s. Oh, that’s one of a kind,” said FBOQ member and former pastor Pastor Clarence Grigsby Sr. Grigsby said CBC donated hundreds of books to FBOQ.
“We have a room, it’s floor to ceiling, three walls, nothing but books. and we have a wall in the office that’s nothing but books,” Grigsby enthused about the new book house.