The Founding of Calvary Chapel
Bowling Green, KY
Shortly after being saved Pastor Mike began to feel the call to ministry. Over the next few years he served with Campus Crusade as a volunteer leader and later as Associate Staff in the high school campus ministry called Student Venture. It was during this time God began to give him a burden to start a church. He didn’t know how this would happen only that some day God would fulfill it.
It was October of 1989 that the Lord began to impress upon Mike and his wife Deanna’s heart that they would be in full time ministry by January of the next year. By December of 1989 Mike was on staff full time at Calvary Chapel South Bay under the leadership of Senior Pastor Steve Mays. Mike served there as the Youth Pastor and then as Administrator and Assistant Pastor to Pastor Steve. During this time God was still dealing with Mike about one day planting a church.
In June of 1993 the burden to go out and plant a church became so strong that Mike approached Pastor Steve about this desire. As they both prayed God revealed it was time for Mike and Deanna to go out and plant a new church in the area of the Mid-South. Mike was originally from Memphis, Tennessee so they thought this would be the place God would call them to go. Upon telling Oden Fong, who was over the CCOF office, about the call to go out to Memphis and plant a Calvary Chapel, he challenged Mike to pray about going to Nashville instead. He explained they had a lot of requests for someone to start a fellowship in this area and some friends of his were moving there and wanted to be involved in helping plant a new Calvary Chapel. As Mike and Deanna prayed they felt God’s confirmation that this was to be the community they should go to. Pastor Steve gave Mike the month of August to go and find a job and a place to live for his family in the Nashville area.
Mike’s Brother-in-law Ron felt called to go with Mike to Nashville to help in planting the church there. They both said goodbye to their families and headed for Tennessee. Mike had an Aunt and Uncle living in Bowling Green, Kentucky about an hour north of Nashville. They had agreed to open their home to Mike and Ron for the month while they looked for work and a place to live in Nashville. As the days passed God began to give Mike a heart for Bowling Green. Many people he spoke with told him there was a need for this type of ministry there. Each day as he and Ron would drive to Nashville to look for jobs and places to live Mike began to love coming back to Kentucky. Not absolutely sure this was God’s leading Mike prayed that God would confirm this same thing in his wife’s heart. In the meantime God had opened a door for a job with an insurance firm with a territory of Southern Kentucky. Mike planned to travel into Kentucky to cover his territory and then commute back to Nashville each day. However, housing turned into a problem and Mike ended up getting a temporary residence in Bowling Green until something would open up in Nashville. (This is a whole other story in and of itself)
With Mike and Ron employed and places secured to bring their families they returned to California to move them east. With everyone packed up they said their tearful goodbyes to family and friends and hit the road to Tennessee. It was a long trip with small children and right at the end of summer. The cats just about bought the farm somewhere in Oklahoma when they were left in the van while everyone ate inside at Burger King. However, they made it as did everyone else safe and sound to their destination.
Ron had found an apartment in Hermitage, Tennessee on the east side of Nashville. There in Ron and Ebby’s home the first Bible study began. They had their two families and one other person coming to the home fellowship.
During that October of 1993 the Pastor’s Wives conference took place in California and God provided the funds for Deanna to be able to attend. As Deanna entered the conference the theme was “Precious Harvest” and the décor was farms, silos, and everything she had just left behind where her little temporary home in Bowling Green was. God really began to speak to her about Bowling Green as well and the need for a Calvary Chapel there. Upon her return to Kentucky she sat across from Mike on an opposite couch and asked if God was speaking anything to Mike about planting a Calvary in Bowling Green. As they compared notes it was evident that God had used Nashville to get them to Bowling Green, Kentucky. It was a place they would have never thought of coming but God had worked in one of His mysterious ways. Mike called Pastor Steve and sought his counsel. He agreed and helped guide Mike through the process of closing the Bible Study in Hermitage and starting up in Bowling Green.
In November of 1993 Mike and Deanna started a Bible Study in their home at 854 Hill Rd. in Bowling Green. By January the house was too small to house the children for childcare so they moved the study to Hillvue Heights Church on Nashville Rd. They used an educational classroom and a nursery facility. Then on Palm Sunday of 1994 they held their first Sunday service at Greenwood High School in the cafeteria. After about 3 years they rented some space at 2052 Russellville Road and remained there for approximately 4 years. In November of 2000 God miraculously opened a door for them to purchase Joshua’s Place at 2107 Old Louisville Road where the church exists today. That is quite a story and one Pastor Mike loves to tell how God provided for them.
In late 2004, Pastor Mike and his wife Deanna felt the will of God for their lives was to step down from Pastoral ministries at Calvary Chapel Bowling Green.
Approximately one year later after a nationwide search, Ryan Smith was installed as Pastor and currently serves full-time in this capacity.