Local pastor’s ministry uplifts high school before finding its own home
Former high school basketball coach Gary Green, is a pastor at Calvary Apostolic along with his wife and co-pastor Rita Green. What makes the church stand out is that it began inside of a high school, Samuel C. Mumford High to be exact.
Calvary just recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, which took place on April 9, 2017. The church also includes Lunch and Learn Bible class, founded by the two local pastors. It was created to cater to the needs of the Mumford High students, where they are able to have lunch and learn more about the Bible. The program also allows them to explore possible career paths. Friendly, easygoing, kind, and a true man of God are some of the words that the students and his congregation use to describe Pastor Gary Green. The vision that he has for the church and the students is truly inspirational.
Green coached basketball at Cooley High School from 1985 until 1999 after spending several years doing the same thing at Henry Ford High, Central High and Greater Grace Christian Academy.
“I went to Cooley to help my former college coach Ben Kelso, who I learned everything about coaching from. Ben, who I named my son after was a great mentor and became a great friend to me because of his love for the progress of young men in the city of Detroit. He was the assistant coach at Eastern Michigan University, where I played from 1977 until 1979.”
Green believes that coaching taught him a lesson that he had taken for granted: how much impact coaching had on young people’s lives, and that is what partly influenced him to create the Lunch and Learn program.
“The structure, discipline, the effort that’s necessary to be successful plays a part of these young people for the rest of their lives, he said.
After 27 years of doing coaching and law enforcement as a Wayne County Sheriff, Green expresses that God called him into ministry in 1992. He began to study and pray like never before.
“Thank God, I was allowed to do a great deal of study and research on the job, and much of my counseling and teaching was done with the staff and officers of the Wayne County Sheriff’s,” Green said.
In 2006, Bishop Charles Ellis III named him assistant pastor of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit where he had been a member since 1956. Green looked up to those before him who also served in the same role.
“All our assistant pastors, these men carried great respect in the church as well as the anointing of God, for him to see that in me was the most powerful and fulfilling day of my life, he said. He served in that capacity until he said God called him and his wife to pastor, something that they both never thought they never wanted to do.
Shortly after Green and his wife found their new calling, they began to look for a place to open a ministry. After looking at many abandoned churches on the east side of Detroit, the former coach said he had a spiritual realization.
“When we went in this church it was in horrible condition, the only thing left at the altar was a crown of thorns; God spoke to me then and said these buildings are closed because they have forgotten Calvary. From that point, we promised God that we will never forget Calvary.”
Soon, they got a call by a close friend, who was the principal at Mumford High School.
“While taking the tour, the principal expressed to us that she wanted prayer in her school, (and) we let her know that we wanted Calvary to not just have a church service on Sunday, but wanted (there) to be a service Monday through Friday.”
The school gave them the auditorium on Sunday and a classroom throughout the week.
“We started what God had told us to do, to feed his sheep, (and) the feed and seed program began. With the parents’ permission we feed the kids a light lunch and give them biblical stories that relate to their everyday lives.”
Junior Parrish Burton, 16, is a cornerback for the Mumford High football team and enjoys attending the program each week.
“The thing I like about the program is us studying the Bible because most young kids don’t like reading the Bible,” he said. “I started reading it because of the program, and it affected my life in a positive way because I learn new things and I (have) changed in many good ways. Everybody in the class gains more information about the bible and they are happy to be there. We all love Pastor Green and his wife.”
The class started with six students and it is now up to 85. Other schools have expressed interest in this program, but according to Green, this kind of ministry is not for everybody. “It comes with a great sacrifice and expense; it’s not funded by government grants, but by individuals who want to help our Mumford students.”
Pastor Rita Green expressed how much the students love the program. “The kids are very open and ready for the Bible program. They are more excited about the church than lunch. One of the boys said that since his mom does not take him to church, he is glad he can come for his lunch hour. He did not want God to think he forgot about him.”
Calvary praise team member Marcus Abernathy, 19, believes that joining the church has had a good effect on him.
“Being involved with the Calvary praise team impacts me both spiritually and naturally,” Abernathy said. “Naturally, because I’m doing what I love, which is singing. Spiritually because I am singing and praising God in a free and open atmosphere, in which I have the liberty to praise God how I want to. Calvary is a place where you are free to worship and praise God and get what you need spiritually to get you through to the next week.”
Green expresses that he hopes to expand the feed and program to other schools such as David Ellis Academy and Detroit Learning Academy. “The Beech Daly property sits between three schools; we believe God is opening those doors for the feed and seed program to be planted in those schools.”
On June 4 Calvary Apostolic opened its doors in its new home at 19650 Beech Daly in Redford. The church will be open for staff and parents to receive counseling, prayer and Bible Study lessons at noon and 6 p.m. beginning July 11, along with a community picnic on July 22.