Calvary UMC welcomes a new era
“Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of Love” echoed through the sanctuary of Calvary United Methodist Church as the Arnolds Park congregation consecrated its new building. The celebration for the community whose mission is “sharing God’s love with all” was the culmination a nearly eight-year journey for a community that traces its roots back to 1857.
“Today we celebrate the completion of our church building,” members of the team said, and in response the congregation added, “This is our house of prayer. But we ourselves are the house of God, whose construction continues until it is completed and dedicated at the end of time.” The community added, “The work we see complete in this building is physical; it finds its spiritual counterpart in our hearts...[we] offer thanksgiving to the Lord our God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift.”
The Rev. Dr. Sara Rohret, Calvary’s pastor, welcomed those gathered in the nearly-full sanctuary and joined the celebration choir in “Come Build a Church”
Members of the church, including persons from the church council, lay servant, treasurer, shared the history…from the first worship service on the banks of Lake Okoboji, to the Circuit Riders and new settlers, to the Lakes Community Church and Calvary founding, to the mission and ministry in Arnolds Park and new beginnings and a new church. Images from along the journey were projected as people said, “let us shine our light of peace upon the waters…our light of Christ’s good news wherever we go…wherever God leads us”
Doris Welle, Chair of the Board of Trustees read selections from Joshua, which led to Bishop Laurie Haller’s sermon, which was entitled, “Wade or Watch?” “Grace and peace to each one of you,” Bishop Laurie said. “It is a joy to be here this afternoon to celebrate the completion of your new building.” She added, “This is my first trip outside the Des Moines area as your new episcopal leader, and what a beautiful part of God’s world it is!”
She told the congregation that she had been in the area before – “Two years ago I and three other people…rode our bikes a thousand miles in twelve days across the North Central Jurisdiction from Brandon, South Dakota to Port Clinton, Ohio. This was a fundraiser for Imagine No Malaria….The first day we rode eighty-two miles and stayed the night at the Lake Okoboji United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center. I had this image in my mind that Iowa was a completely flat state, so that first day was a rude awakening for me, and my muscles were sore the next morning as we continued our journey. I loved every minutes of our ride through Iowa and am so glad to be living in this wonderful state.”
“This congregation has a long and rich history as a result of that courageous beginning. For a hundred and sixty years, the gospel has been preached, this community has been served, the Bible has been taught, lives have been transformed, and Jesus has been glorified.”
“What does it take for a congregation like Calvary to remain alive, vital, and connected with the needs of their community,” Bishop Laurie asked. She suggested that it takes momentum – gained, first, by recognizing the need for a new beginning; by having a clear and focused vision; by getting everyone on board; by having the strength, courage, patience, and persistence to act upon God’s will; and by leaving a legacy.
In consecrating the building the congregation prayed, “By the power of Your Holy Spirit consecrate this house of worship. Bless us and sanctify what we do here, that this place may be holy for us and a house of prayer for all people…[and] send us out from here to be Your servants in the world, sharing the blessings of Christ with the world He came to redeem…We dedicate this place to You, O God.”
Click here for a copy of Bishop Laurie's sermon
Click here to see a album of photos
Click here to watch a video of the consecration service
Bishop Laurie asked, “Let the warm light of hospitality shine on all who enter here. May all be refreshed by one another’s presence and equipped to love their neighbors as themselves. May the name of Jesus be proclaimed, and the life of Jesus be lives such that all will know that Christ is alive and dwells among us.”
The Alexander Trio, the Celebration Choir, and the music ministry team of Calvary United Methodist Church provided special music for the service.
“It made the congregation proud that Bishop Laurie cares about us and cared enough to come here and see what we’ve done and acknowledge that,” said Rev. Rohret. “Sometimes when you’re here in northwest Iowa…it’s easy to feel like people don’t care or know that you exist even, “she added, and “it was meaningful for the congregation and for me, personally that she was here.”
“The eight year journey of visioning and talking and looking at all the options,” as Rev. Rohret said, still has a long way to go. “There’s a lot of landscaping to be done, “she added. “We’re going to have a prayer garden and some walking spaces and an outdoor wedding space and patio for outdoor events.” Yet, all in all, “It’s been quite a journey from God!”