Call In the Calvary
I don’t know how it happened, really, but last Saturday night I found myself taking in the service at Calvary of Albuquerque, the megachurch located on Osuna just west of I-25. I blame my wife—and my wife’s friend, who invited us.
I have to admit I was curious, though. I was raised Catholic, which means, despite my various experiments with agnosticism, I’m still basically a Catholic. It’s hard to shake that stuff. Trust me on that one.
Anyway, Calvary is one of those slick nondenominational evangelical churches. Kind of mainstream vanilla. No rattlesnakes. No rolling around on the carpet, gabbering in tongues.
Remember Calvary of Albuquerque? It was in the news a lot last year when its founder, Skip Heitzig, was received truckloads of negative attention. Heitzig had left Calvary to become senior pastor at another megachurch in California. His handpicked successor quit Calvary early last year, complaining that Heitzig was micromanaging the Albuquerque church from afar. There were also some serious complaints about Heitzig receiving a very generous severance package from Calvary without actually severing his ties to the church. Heitzig is now back at Calvary as senior pastor. (He claims to have returned the severance package.)
It was weird seeing him preaching. He didn’t say anything offensive. No railing against the Jews or homosexuals. It doesn’t seem to be that kind of church. Just a straight-up give-Jesus-a-chance kind of schtick.
Still, it’s hard for me to take a spiritual leader named “Skip” seriously. And I couldn’t bring myself to trust his haircut or his exceptionally perfect tan or his designer clothes. He reeks of money, to tell you the truth, and so does his church. How much money does he rake in? Hard to say. A lot is my guess, although there’s no way of knowing precisely. The church’s website says they won’t reveal staff salaries for privacy reasons.
I’ll tell you one thing, though. That was no $9 haircut. I know what a $9 haircut looks like. I saw one in the mirror this morning.