From 1847 ⸻

Our story

The history of Calvary Baptist Church is the story of a centrally located New York City congregation fixed on a faithful commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, with a diversity that reflects its global orientation.


Calvary began in 1847 as Hope Chapel, a tiny offshoot of the historic Stanton Street Baptist Church in lower Manhattan. Within a few short years, the church moved twice on Broadway (along with a name change), and eventually settled on W. 23rd Street in 1854, calling itself Calvary Baptist and led by the beloved national Baptist leader A.D. Gillette.


As the city continued to grow, the church made the decision to move far uptown in 1883 to W. 57th Street, constructing a building Time Magazine called the “most expensive Baptist church in America.” Long-tenured Pastor Robert S. MacArthur emphasized that the real value of the building lay in its message to the city, by placing the words “We preach Christ crucified” above the doors. This Scripture was carried over to a new building on the same site in 1930, which housed a hotel-church complex that served the worship and mission activities of the church for the next 90 years.

We preach Christ crucified ⸻
175 years and counting...

While the Message was unchanged, the church continued to innovate to reach the city and the world. In the 19th century, MacArthur initiated open air tent revivals and raised vast sums of financial support for international missions. In 1923, the fiery preacher John Roach Straton led Calvary to build the first ever church-owned and operated radio station. The program Tell It From Calvary was broadcast all over the world for almost a century. Calvary provided a natural home base for the historic 1957 Billy Graham evangelistic meetings at Madison Square Garden, as Billy Graham’s close friend and advisor Stephen Olford began his tenure as senior pastor (1959-1973). Olford experimented with television ministry and led the church to launch New York School of the Bible in 1971, with Dr. Joseph Macaulay as its first dean.


Calvary’s pulpit ministry has carried on the legacy in recent years by esteemed pastors Donald Hubbard, James Rose, and David Epstein. The innovation continues as the church is once again redeveloping the strategic 57th Street property with an enlarged and modern new facility for the 21st century, while Senior Pastor Abraham Joseph continues the church’s unchanging mission, with the exhortation Go Tell It, Calvary!