Located in Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, Canada, which is nestled along the majestic and beautiful Saint John River, Calvary Tabernacle is an active and growing church with a vision for missions. Situated in a rural area, the church has a strong historical consistency of being involved in the community. “We are not like an urban corporate church. The people have more accessibility to the rural pastor,” said Bro. David Ferrell, pastor of Calvary Tabernacle. “We are so intertwined with family and friends that our approach has to be more integrated.”
Growing up in Uhrichsville, Ohio, Bro. Ferrell was raised in the church, and received the Holy Ghost at the age of eight and preached his first revival at the age of 17. Bro. Ferrell is a graduate of Apostolic Bible Institute, the University of Maine, and Laurentian University, and has been a vital part of the Atlantic District, serving in various capacities and holding many different offices with them.
Bro. Ferrell met his wife, Roma, at ABI in St. Paul, Minnesota. Married in 1998 they have two children, Anthony and Christiana.
Bro. Ferrell enjoys ministering on “real life” issues and the impact of those on our spiritual condition, and the answers that we find through the gospel in dealing with those issues. “I keep a piece of paper in my Bible that has my pastoral principles on it that I’ve gleaned from over the past 25 years,” said Bro. Ferrell. “I believe an important aspect of ministry is to know and understand God’s will, to do God’s will, and to combine that with your personality and abilities. Many times your priorities are set for you, but God does make up the difference. Many of the priorities that we have to maintain are ones that we inherited, versus a pastor who starts a church and can set his own priorities. In my church, I inherited a list of priorities that I must incorporate into what my personal priorities are. I took over a church that had been pastored by the same man for 40 years. My job has been to guide this church through that transitional time.
PRINCIPLES OF GROWTH & REVIVAL
Calvary Tabernacle is an active and growing church with a missions vision that has seen many workers go out into the Harvest Field. “Looking back over the past 90 years, and how we grew from a small, struggling church to what we are today, we have much for which to thank God for,” said Bro. Ferrell. “Some have planted, some have watered, but God has given the increase. This church has had a huge impact on world missions in the men and women it has produced; for example, this is the home church of missionary Bennie Demerchant, as well as Wayne Goodine, Gerald Grant, the Corcorans, and the Hanscombs. Our church has such a rich heritage.”
While Calvary Tabernacle’s current attendance is 230, Bro. Ferrell says that their growth is transitional. “We grow, then because of our rural situation, we’ll graduate kids and they’ll leave and move to bigger cities with more opportunities. However, our sanctuary is full, a dynamic that amazes me.”
Calvary Tabernacle uses many different methods to increase attendance, which include an annual youth week, an end-of-school blast, an annual Labor Day convention, monthly widow’s dinners, and two outdoor outreach services per year. Also, Search for Truth home Bible studies have brought several new members into the church as well.
“There are keys to success and business growth principles that are incorporated into a church setting, things like seeker-friendly and advertising, etc., that work in an urban setting with population,” said Bro. Ferrell. “In a rural setting, I don’t need to advertise; everyone knows we are here, most people are related to someone in the church. In fact, my biggest challenge in getting people through the doors is that they know what it means to be Pentecostal before they really experience God. Therefore, in other words, they know how they are supposed to look and act, before they have experienced the transforming power of God that makes the lifestyle possible.
“In our situation, the key to growing and maintaining a good church along with all the basic ministries and outreach that every church does, is consistency. Just being there when something happens in a person’s life is essential because they know whom to call when they are in need. Being involved in community events, both good and bad (tragedy, etc…) gives me more opportunities to minister. Funerals, for example, are one of our biggest venues for touching the lost.”
ORGANIZATION & MANAGEMENT
Rural pastoring is different and requires a different skill set, according to the pastor. “You have to work at knowing the mindset of the people,” he explained. “Maintaining a rural church comes from subtle changes. It is essential to know your church and the area, ministering in a way that they can hear and receive; literally translating new trends into a language the congregation gets and can digest.
“My focus, and I have communicated this to the church, from here on is Sunday school and outreach. I have maintained and transitioned and honored; now is the time for the business of souls. Our first step in this process has been the renovating of our Sunday School Department. I had to let some old systems and ideologies die a natural death, and now we are ready to structure again with the team in place. We adjusted our Sunday morning service to accommodate our Sunday school plans, so we move a step at a time, in God’s time.
Now the next step for me is structuring a system of outreach that includes follow-up and Christian development. Again, our people have not had to focus on outreach, but the future depends on it now as older saints are dying off.”
Calvary Tabernacle’s current facility is a brick structured church that seats 800 people. It consists of 10 classrooms, a kitchen, a large fellowship hall, five offices, a reception area as well as a large sound/media room. The first church was constructed and then as renovation was needed, another church was built over the top of the old one. When the new sanctuary was completed, the old one was torn down and carried out the front door.
“As far as buildings and construction goes, we have spent close to, if not over, $200,000, debt-free, in renovations, outbuildings and land purchases in the past three years,” Bro. Ferrell said. “So at this point we are not looking at any building projects soon, unless God brings a mighty influx in growth and if that happens we would gladly build.”
What’s in the Future?
For the last five years, Calvary Tabernacle has been in a transition mode. “The previous pastor had pastored there for 40 years,” said Bro. Ferrell, so my entire focus for the last five years has been the transition process. I inherited both things that work for me and things that didn’t, and we are now just getting to the place where we can begin to focus on building and growing in a way that works for me.
“What I see in the future for our church is conflicted. We live in a retirement community with a shrinking population, so when I look at that I don’t see much future, but we have this incredible facility, foundation, people, etc. Therefore, I know that God put it all here for a reason and my heart fills with the sounds of revival and new souls. All it would take would be one factory or industry to establish here, and it could turn things around as far as the community goes. One of my daily prayers is, ‘Lord, heal our land and make our community vibrant and flourishing.’ As far as revival, it can happen at any time, with any type of circumstances. So daily I pastor with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. I go forward when I have traction, but I brake if things get squirrely so we don’t lose any ground. I carry a can of gas in one hand to fuel revival fire, and a bucket of water in the other hand to put out little fires that can creep up in a close rural church family. It is a fine balancing act.
“Ultimately, and I do not say this in a canned way — I seek to do God’s will. Only He sees the future of this church and knows the time frame, and my job is to arrive at His appointed times and seasons. On that journey, I have to be diligent to do the basic things of growth and leadership that every pastor must do — to teach, to train, to pray, to preach, to love, to do spiritual warfare, and to develop.”
By Gregg Stone