By Daniel Hubbard
Rev. Matt Battista has a very unique perspective regarding his new job.
The 32-year-old minister recently took over as the lead pastor of Calvary Temple International Assembly in Wayne, NJ. Ernest Berquist, his great uncle, started the church with a few families more than 50 years ago in a nearby Paterson living room. Now, the church occupies a large campus in the heart of Wayne.
“Perspective…I have perspective,” Battista said. “There are things that we do that I understand the significance of because they’ve impacted my life directly. It’s personal.”
He not only crawled on the floor of the church as a baby, he has grown up along with it. From its Paterson roots, the church moved to a larger location on Alps Road in Wayne before moving to the campus it currently occupies on Valley Road, a few minutes away from where it was founded.
Battista has spent his entire 10-year ministerial career at Calvary Temple, an Assemblies of God church. He received his degree in Christian Ministries from Valley Forge Christian College in 2008. There he met Holly, his wife of 10 years. The couple has two children, Josiah, 6, and Chloe, 2.
Battista previously served as Calvary Temple’s children’s pastor, and pastor of student ministries, where he oversaw all ministries for infants through age 30. He was named lead pastor in the fall.
More than a thousand people attend one of the church’s two Sunday morning services. The church has a large Spanish and Asian attendance, along with congregants from dozens of other ethnic backgrounds. It also has campuses in Hackensack and Clifton.
Leading such a large, diverse group of people might be intimidating to some. But not to Battista.
“It’s a very humbling experience to be chosen, first and foremost by the Lord, for something that is so much bigger than myself,” said Battista. “There are moments when, if you look at the scope of everything that we’ve been entrusted with, it can be overwhelming, but we’re reminded that if the Lord has called us to do something, He is going to equip us to do the job. There’s so much comfort in that.”
And Battista is not going at this alone.
He continues to be mentored and encouraged by the two men who previously held his job: Rev. Richard Fogel and Rev. Thomas Keinath. Fogel was lead pastor for nearly 24 years. Keinath lead the church for 17 years before he and his wife Kim were elected superintendents of the New Jersey District Assemblies of God last year.
“I look up to both of them as people who have directly ministered to me through my life, who have pastored me throughout my adolescence,” Battista said. “They have been such a tremendous encouragement to me.”
Battista also draws great encouragement from his wife.
“Holly and I are a team, that’s the way we have approached ministry. We want to do this together,” he said. “It feels very natural for us to lead together. She has a real heart for people, something I’m very thankful for.”
For more information on Calvary Temple International, visit www.calvarynj.com.