Calvary Chapel History
In the late 1960s, the first Calvary Chapel was started in Costa Mesa, California, as a small nondenominational church of 25 members, pastored by Chuck Smith. The Lord blessed that small group, and now Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa is home to some 30,000 believers.
From the beginning, Calvary Chapel has been focused on leading people to Christ and discipling them so that they can go out into the world and lead others. The Lord has blessed this commitment, and Calvary Chapel has grown to 850 churches in North America and almost 200 churches in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. We truly take to heart our Lord’s command in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Because of its size and influence, many Christians have asked exactly what Calvary Chapel believes and what makes us distinct. At Calvary Chapel, we have always been hesitant to answer those questions, not because we are unsure of our beliefs, but because we are cautious to avoid division within the body of Christ. After all, what really matters is what we have in common as Christians, the essential doctrines of: the infallibility of God’s Word; the virgin birth of Christ; Christ’s sinless life, death for our sins, and bodily resurrection; Christ’s ascension to glory; and His personal return to rule over the earth. This is the essence of Christianity and agreed upon by all born-again believers.
When Christians move away from these foundational doctrines to those that are less essential, there is always a risk of setting barriers up in the church, something we at Calvary Chapel have no desire to do.
Calvary Chapel History in Ukraine
In 1990 news that people in Ukraine wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ and God’s Word spread to the United States. It reached the ears and touched the heart a man named George Markey, who was a pastor in the state of Indiana. After a short trip through post-Soviet Eastern Europe, he responded to God’s call to leave the United States. In 1992, with his wife Pamela and eight children, George left Indiana and came to Ukraine.
Pastor George didn’t always preach with words. His life exhibited the love of Christ and the power of the gospel. Compassion, concern for others, joy, freedom and sincere faith in Jesus – all of these characteristics immediately come to mind when remembering George. Many Ukrainians saw this example of true Christianity and responded with belief in God. Through loving service toward the people in the area, a community of believers formed that became known as Calvary Chapel Kyiv.
After the church in Kyiv was established, missionaries began to go out to other cities in Ukraine and plant new churches. A church was started in Kagarlyk in 1997, two more in Pryluky and Dnipropetrovsk in 2000, one in Poltava in 2001, three in Nyzhin, Zaporizhzhya and Kharkiv in 2002, one in Borodyanka in 2003, and more later in Svitlovods’k, Simferopol, Ternopil, L’viv and other cities. We continue to pray for more churches to be planted throughout Ukraine and beyond.
If you would like to learn more about George Markey, a biography has been published about him by his son-in-law and former assistant pastor, Jed Gourley. Click here to order it on Amazon.com.