New pastor starts at Calvary Tabernacle in Medina

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 October 2022 at 5:16 pm

‘Sometimes people forget how much a church can be an asset to a community. I’d love to see this church grow beyond what I could imagine, with ministries, public outreach and community involvement.’ – Kevin Lawson

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God’s new pastor Kevin Lawson checks out a delivery of bread in the church’s food pantry.

MEDINA – When the Rev. Vince Iorio announced his intention to retire from his duties at Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God, the church didn’t have to look far to find a replacement.

Kevin Lawson graduated in 1989 from Royalton-Hartland High School in Middleport, then attended Erie Community College for a year. He joined the Marines, where he was hurt, and after an honorable discharge he went to work for a contracting company out of Buffalo, working there for 25 years and Rochester for seven years.

He started going to church when he was 12 or 13, and said he knew then God had put a calling on his life, but really didn’t understand what that meant.

“Then life got in the way,” he said. “I had married a lady from Middleport, and after 18 years, we divorced and I had to start over. It was very humbling.”

They had a son Troy, now 25.

Kevin had been going back to church sporadically, and then started going regularly again, where he met Krista Scholes from Shelby.

“I believe now God was using the experiences in my life to help me connect with people,” Lawson said. “Calvary had been my childhood church, and Vince was here then and he was here when I came back to the church.”

He and Krista, who then had five girls, were married in 2015. They had both taken on leadership roles in the church as youth leaders. In 2016, Kevin went through the New York School of Ministry.

“I had already known in my heart God was moving me in that direction, and I knew I wasn’t going to be completely happy until I did that.”

He continued on his journey and went through the process of being credentialed as a minister through the Assemblies of God. At the same time, he was serving on the board of Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God when they moved forward with the Rev. Iorio’s vision for a new church, breaking ground in the summer of 2016.

Kevin was a construction manager in his full-time job, while going to ministry school, and became supervising constructor for building the church. They opened their doors in October 2021.

Kevin had already taken a role at Calvary Tabernacle as associate pastor when the Rev. Iorio announced his intention to retire in mid-January.

Pastor Kevin Lawson, left, his wife Krista and mother Brenda Lawson chat with the Rev. Vince Iorio, former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, who recently retired and has been succeeded by Kevin.

The Rev. Iorio, 68, was pastor of Calvary Tabernacle for 15 years, and said it was time to pass the torch.

“I always had great team leaders, many of whom are still there,” he said.

He is proud of his accomplishment in building the new church.

“What seemed like an impossibility, God made possible,” he said.

Retirement means the Rev. Iorio can spend more time volunteering in the community. He has been volunteering at the Medina’s Tourism Booth in Rotary Park during the summer and he is a volunteer driver for the Orleans Joint Veterans’ Council van service.

Kevin was voted in full time on July 23 by the board and congregation.

“I have a large vision for growth in this church, to help people in the community,” he said. “Sometimes people forget how much a church can be an asset to a community. I’d love to see this church grow beyond what I could imagine, with ministries, public outreach and community involvement.”

His goal for the church moving forward is to stay focused on God’s will.

“I am grateful for the people in this church who have supported me and the transition,” Kevin said.

Calvary Tabernacle begins Sunday activities with coffee hour at 9:30 a.m., to which everyone is welcome, followed by worship at 10:30 a.m.

Prayer meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesdays with the Spanish-speaking church meeting there at 2 p.m. Sundays, led by Jovannie Canales. Family night is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

The pastor said the Spanish-speaking church is a big help to Calvary Tabernacle, supporting them in everything.

Calvary Tabernacle is the location of a food pantry from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Thursday. The pantry provides food for more than 100 families a month in Orleans County. Donna Poore manages the food pantry, and Daniel Tabor picks up donated food, while Michael Jaeger does stocking.

They receive free bread, groceries and meats weekly from Aldi’s, and other foodstuffs from Foodlink. Any non-food donations received are given to MAAC’s Thrift Deport.

At 10:30 on Nov. 13, the church will have a building dedication service and retirement celebration for the Rev. Iorio, and everyone is invited to attend.