FAIRFIELD — An overcast sky and blustering wind Sunday did not stop parishioners of Mount Calvary Baptist Church from celebrating a milestone.
More than 500 individuals clapped, danced and praised God at Rodriguez High School while celebrating the church’s 50th anniversary.
“We are many hearts standing together,” said Brenda Williams as she gave the statement of the occasion at Coach Ed Hopkins Memorial Stadium.
The Rev. Herbert Bell gave the invocation by thanking God for allowing the church 50 years to “serve in the streets and to serve in the community.”
Fairfield City Councilmember Pam Bertani drew laughter when she spoke.
“I may be Lutheran on paper, but Mount Calvary is my home,” she said. Bertani’s husband Todd is the pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Fairfield.
Fairfield Mayor Harry Price also attended the service.
“I remember your father and the vision he had,” Price said to the Rev. Claybon Lea Jr. His father was the founding pastor of the church and helped lead it to prominence in the community.
Mount Calvary Baptist Church’s creation occurred on Jan. 1, 1963, when eight local residents met to worship. The same year they appointed the Rev. Claybon Lea Sr. as pastor and moved into a building on Boynton Avenue in Suisun City. In 1970, the church moved to its current Suisun City location on Whispering Bay Lane. In 2004, the church opened a second church in Fairfield.
The biggest applause occurred after Claybon Lea Jr. named his mother Carol Lea the most valuable partner in the ministry.
Carol Lea was presented with a statue of an eagle for her dedicated service to both her late husband and son over the years.
“It doesn’t take much for me to bow down and serve him (Claybon Lea Jr.),” said Carol Lea. “He comes from good stock,” she told a jubilant crowd.
“I served my husband because God told me to help him build the church,” she said.
Claybon Lea Jr. was succinct regarding the role his mother played in the history of Mount Calvary.
“You take her out of the history, the church shrinks,” he said.
The Rev. Lance Watson from St. Paul Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., said the mission of the church was still ongoing.
“Watch the next 50 years at Mount Calvary Baptist Church,” he said as the parishioners danced to his words.
As Claybon Lea Jr. started the day’s service, he noted the strong wind blowing about.
“We (the church) had to go through a lot of wind, tornadoes and turbulence to be here.”
Reach John Glidden at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter/glid24.