This past Sunday I visited City of Faith Christian Fellowship, one of Santa Fe’s newest churches. They are part of the Calvary Chapel Santa Fe family tree, one of four to six churches in the Santa Fe area that could be fairly so described. I went there this Sunday because I finally had a Sunday to myself, with the rest of the family out of town, and because a kind reader was kind enough to tell me where they are. In this post I’m going to try to describe what and who this church is/are, and in a later post I’ll talk about what I saw and heard there.
From I think the mid-Eighties until a couple of years ago there was a Calvary Chapel in Santa Fe. It was initially started as a Bible study affiliated with Calvary Albuquerque. It was initially started by Gino Geraci, now the long-time pastor of Calvary South Denver. After a short period of time, maybe a couple of years, he returned to Albuquerque and was replaced by Kon Tweeten. Tweeten was pastor for fifteen or so years; during his tenure the church grew from a handful of people to 1000-1200 people or so. He was succeeded by Dave Defuria, and under Defuria’s leadership the church split. When the split was granted affiliation with Calvary Chapel Defuria stepped down and the church was briefly reunited under Paul Scozzafava. Two of the assistant pastors, Carlos Montoya and Rudy Delgado, left on good terms and started Blaze Christian Fellowship, now part of the Acts 29 Network. One of the elders also left on good terms and started a church that I believe is based in the Sunlit Hills neighborhood. I haven’t been able to track them down. Under Paul Scozzafava the church dropped its Calvary Chapel affiliation and moved in a more Reformed direction. Scozzafava’s chronic health problems have left him unable to fulfill all the obligations of a senior pastor, and he brought in Ryan Ellsworth as heir apparent to the pulpit. Ellsworth left a few months ago and later started City of Faith.
[Edit: one of the principals was kind enough to contact me with some corrections (both for me personally and for the text I've deleted here), and I've taken the rest of this post offline until I can get my facts straight. Don't hold your breath; I may be a while.]
Sources close to me tell me that Ryan Ellsworth [link] has left Calvary Santa Fe to start a church on his own. He’s certainly disappeared from the Calvary website: a Web search for him currently brings up lots of links to his past sermons there, but the official list for him at the church is empty [link]. I don’t know what the relationship is between his new venture and Calvary; I haven’t seen where he went, whether Calvary is supporting the new church, etc.
For those with long memories, Calvary Santa Fe is the successor church to Calvary Chapel Santa Fe, and over the years a number of churches have spun off from these two in various ways, including Blaze Christian Fellowship and a small church in the Sunlit Hills neighborhood the name of which I’m not certain. I understand that former pastor Kon Tweeten is a going concern again, using the moniker Washed By The Word Ministries [link].This is the first new church to form from Calvary Santa Fe since it dropped its Calvary Chapel affiliation. We wish Ryan all the best in this new venture.