In the almost three months since Calvary Church of God of St. James opened they’ve endured vandalism, break-in attempts and a diminished congregation, but the church is still hopeful of offering successful services and growing within the community.
Calvary Church of God took over the former home to New Apostolic Church on Woodlawn Avenue on Aug. 1.
“I had called them up to see if we could possibly rent from them on a Saturday night because they used it on Sunday and they told me that they were leaving,” said Debbie Capaldo, administrator at Calvary.
The church got its start in 1998 in a conference room at the Howard Johnson's in Commack, then moving to Bay Shore to a location they would occupy for eight years. The situation in Bay Shore became toxic, sparking the need to move.
Capaldo, a 14-year St. James resident, called New Apostolic Church becoming available a “miracle.”
“The neighborhood in the eight years that we were there dramatically changed and the house next to us became like a drug-dealing house,” she said. “We basically lost because of that about two-thirds of our congregation because the area became unsafe.”
Capaldo said they came over to the St. James location with just 25 members.
A decline in congregation numbers isn’t the only obstacle Calvary Church of God has faced since August.
Two weeks after moving in Capaldo said a banner they purchased for roughly $450 was vandalized. A week later she received a phone call from the alarm company that secures the church saying there was a break-in attempt through the rear window.
Capaldo also said they currently lack the finances to advertise so most locals are unaware they are even there. The church is leasing the building with the option to buy, and in order to purchase the location they need to raise roughly $450,000 by August.
Despite the recent adversity, Chris Capaldo, bishop at the church and husband to Debbie, has faith that the Calvary Church of God will be successful and an asset to the community.
“We know now we’re doing the right thing. Any opposition just pushes us to just go ahead further. It just strengthens you,” he said. “We’re just looking forward to a bright future here.”