Leader Update - March 17, 2019

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I have said in several places that the conversations about decisions at General Conference will continue. We finished the 3 planned Info Sessions on GC Tuesday morning. We (Lori, Isaac, and I) gave  everyone  an opportunity to ask questions at these sessions. We used a “paper” method whereby folks would write their question(s), the questions would be collected with Isaac and Lori sorting through them to see if any could be grouped together, and then I did my best, with their help, to answer those questions.  The questions and responses (which we’re referring to as FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions) will be available to everyone (both electronically and on paper) later this month. My answer to some of the FAQs, especially related to demographic breakdown both in the USA and outside of the country, were simply and honestly “I don’t know, I’ll try to find out.” Numerous FAQs about the policy, practice, and structure of the UM Church were asked and there will be some opportunities to learn more about that in coming months.

Questions were asked about the Bible and interpretation of Scripture. The book “Living Faithfully” continues to be a good resource to read and then begin some conversation. In addition, we are considering one or two sessions on interpreting the Bible – the process of how different groups of good intentioned people come to different conclusions.  Dates have not yet been determined.

If you have questions, after having read the FAQs or if it wasn’t clear and you need more information, please ask. When the FAQs are published, there will be a place to ask any unasked questions at the end of the document. Then, after a season, those will be answered and published for everyone to read. If writing a question on paper is your preference, see Angie or Amanda at the Connections Atrium Kiosk on Sunday mornings, or stop by the church office during the week, or simply drop a note in the mail. On Sunday mornings, my mind is fairly focused on worship services, so please help me by not giving me your questions either verbally or on paper. Give them to Angie or Amanda at the Connections Atrium Kiosk or use the electronic form. Thank you in advance for your help.

As more information becomes available, it will be passed along, especially following the Judicial Council meeting on April 24 & 25. My encouragement is to hold steady a bit. I’m not sure today how long a bit is, but I am convinced that we need to. We, as Calvary, need to pray about what being in the center of God’s will looks like for us.  We are not of one mind in the matter, not even close. Uniformity may not be achievable or even desirable in this matter; however, unity in the middle of struggle might be our way forward.

Praying for each of you, for our Church family at Calvary, and for the whole UMC.

Blessings and peace!

Leader Update - A Call to Lent (March 10, 2019)

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by Randy Reese

Reflections on Ash Wednesday morning:

Life is constantly changing and always on the move. Yesterday was what is known as “Fat Tuesday” and today (Wednesday morning) we in the Community of Faith in Jesus Christ call the day “Ash Wednesday.” Ash Wednesday begins a forty day journey (not including Sundays) that leads us to Maundy Thursday. The intent of these forty days is for us, as disciples of Christ Jesus, to take some time, claim some time, make some time to think about God and the things of God in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

Ash Wednesday was celebrated here at Calvary by some singing, a reading of the Word, a reflective homily and then coming, with a willing heart to say:

“God, you are ever so important to me. I want to clear my heart, mind, and soul of anything and everything that might stand between us. I want to ask for forgiveness of any sin I’ve committed against You and against someone else. Show Yourself to me and show “myself” to me.”

This desire found expression in the imposition of ashes (ashes from last year’s palm branches mixed oil placed on foreheads in the sign of the cross) and the sharing of Holy Communion.

Some practice these forty days of Lent by fasting. Their fasts include abstaining from certain foods for one or many days, fasting once a week with a full (nothing but water) or a partial fast (diabetics have to adjust differently in fasting for example). Others find abstaining from something else for forty days as a means of expression for them (electronics, facebook, coffee, and the list goes on and on). The key is to exchange the time and desire for the thing given up and instead, spend it with God. God knows our need - to spend time in His presence. In the words of last Sunday’s scripture text - “to be still and know that I AM God.”

From Pope Francis, I have found his thoughts on Lenten fasting just amazing:

  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words

  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude

  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience

  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope

  • Fast from worries and have trust in God

  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity

  • Fast from pressures and fill your hearts with joy

  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others

  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled

  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Embrace Lent. Give God some extra time and space.

“Be still, and know that He is God”

Leader Update - General Conference Followup

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by Randy Reese

I’m sure most of you have heard by now through the media outlets, but just in case you didn’t, the Special Called Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church narrowly approved the Traditional Plan. That plan maintains the UMC’s policies on same-gender weddings and lgbtq clergy ordination. In other word, pastors are not allowed to do same-gender weddings, churches are not allowed to host same-gender weddings in their churches, and lgbtq person are not allowed to be ordained. In addition, it seeks to strengthen the enforcement of those guidelines throughout the denomination.

The measure passed 438-384 or about a 53%-47% margin.

I am, because I knew I would be, searching for the best words to write to all of you about the 2019 General Conference. Most of all, I’ve been listening for the voice of God is speak to me what He would want all of us to hear.

These words came:

Psalm 46 - My suggestion is for all of us to pull out our devices or our books and read - not peruse, but read and let it soak deeply into our souls and beings - especially verse 10: “Be still and know that I am God.” Let me say that again, “Be still…and know that I am God. And once more, “Be still…and know that I am God.”

Once the gate opened, more of God’s word came flooding into my mind and heart and soul, like a river of living water. I’ll share those Sunday morning as we gather for worship.

There are other pieces from the General Conference that I’m still trying to understand, pieces like what parts of the Traditional Plan passed will be declared unconstitutional when the Judicial Council reconvenes in April (I will speak to more of that during the General Conference Info Sessions I’ve planned) and what the implications of a substituted exit plan mean.

I’m going Saturday to Bishop Beard’s Post Conference gathering to listen and learn. Following that, I think I will be better able to share more information. Please join me at one of three identical General Conference Information Sessions held at Calvary. The days and times are listed here.

The United Methodist Church has been fulfilling her call from Christ Jesus to “Go and make disciples” since her humble beginnings. In fact, the UMC as we know it here in this country, is a result of the Wesley’s leaving their land to come to a different land with the good news of Jesus Christ. The voices from the global church were certainly reflected and heard this past week. The cultural matters in those countries outside of the United States impacted the decision making as this global church met.

I wrote this at 4:30 in the morning, the sun was not yet up - I didn’t know if I’d see the sun today or whether clouds would cover it. I do know that it’s there. Even at 4:30 in the morning, God was still God, just as He was when I went to bed the night before. He is still the “I AM”, Jesus is still my Lord, and the Holy Spirit is still bringing understanding and connection to Holy God.

We at Calvary reflect the complexity of our global church and our world. Our theological spectrum spans from east to west and from north to south. That’s what makes us Calvary United Methodist Church. The diversity and breadth of Christian faithfulness at Calvary looks as different as each one of us looks. Each of our experiences with the risen Christ and each of our lives lived out in faith are a unique, vital, and necessary contribution to the body of Christ that is Calvary United Methodist Church.

Some of you have experienced relief this past week, some of you have experienced joy, some of you are experiencing deep sadness, grief, anger, and pain. Even so, we are still the church of Jesus Christ that we call Calvary United Methodist Church. Our calling is to love God and love our neighbor - we will always strive to do that as people of God.

Many of the brothers and sisters of United Methodism had planned to leave the church depending on what was decided - and some still are. As I’ve talked to you (you collectively and individually as Calvary), I know some of those same thoughts reside here. I urge you to hold fast while things get sorted out. I would have urged you to hold fast if other decisions had been made. My sentiment is that if you feel you cannot stay, for whatever reason, you will call me and set up a time when we can visit. I may or may not try to talk you out of it depending on your wishes. I just don’t want people to fade away. Believe me, I understand and likely don’t understand the magnitude of what I just said. I will commit my time and energy to care for the whole body of Christ as much as I can.

I could keep going but it’s time to for now to “Be still and know that God is God.”

Leader Update - A Call to Prayer - February 24, 2019

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Isaac Gaff - Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts

As Randy mentioned last week, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church will be meeting this week in St. Louis to consider legislation on how the UMC will interface with persons in the LGBTQ community – specifically in regards to marriages and ordinations within the UMC. As members of a local United Methodist Church, General Conference matters often feel far away and unimportant to many of us. While this specific issue is of great importance, the distance we feel between the local church and the worldwide General Conference can still lead us to complacency about our part in the matter. As members of the Body of Christ (the Church) we are all called to prayer – not simply as a means to an end, but as a way of life that opens the mind of Christ in us (see Phil. Chapter 2). Even though we will not cast ballots in this decision, our work is of equal (or perhaps greater) significance. When we pray together as the church; our hearts, minds, wills, and strength(s) begin to feel, think, act, and look more like Jesus.

The Upper Room (a ministry of the United Methodist Church) has called us to pray together each day for at least four minutes (to represent the four days of General Conference). I encourage you to pray the following four minute prayer sequence (developed by the Upper Room) several times throughout the day today and in the days ahead. Add or edit as you need, but take the opportunity to join millions of methodists around the world in prayer during this important time in the life of our church. The prayer sequence begins below.

Minute #1 Prayer of Adoration

Good and great God, we recognize and celebrate that you are loving, kind, and faithful. You are everywhere in this world and beyond. You are also as close as our next breath. With John Wesley we rejoice knowing, "Best of all, you are with us.”

Minute #2 Prayer of Thanks

God of grace, we thank you that you hear us when we pray and are ever ready and able to act in ways beyond anything we could ask or imagine. Thank you for our brothers and sisters around the world, and especially for those who have offered to serve by attending the special-called General Conference. Thank you for ordering our steps and for preparing a way.

Minute #3: Prayer of Confession

Forgiving God, we confess that we have allowed fear and distrust to place distance between us and our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. Forgive us for making idols of our own thoughts, voices, and opinions. Thank you for forgiving us and for your perfect love that casts out all fear.

Minute #4 Prayer of Asking

God of peace and wisdom, from this time forward, may we walk with you in trust and peace, and with our brothers and sisters in the love and unity you desire. May we truly sing together in harmony a song of praise that draws all to you. Even now, may you bless those who will attend the special-called General Conference, assuring them of your love, filling them with you wisdom, preparing them with your peace. May they and we become more sensitive to the voice of your Holy Spirit, so that all we do will please you and bring you glory. All of these prayers we offer in the name of the Risen Christ. Amen.

Leader Update - February 17, 2019

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In just 11 days, brothers and sisters of the United Methodist Church will gather in St. Louis to make decisions for the church, people in the church and out of the church, and in some way attempt to navigate something that will, without a doubt, have an impact on the general church, the local church, our church, and the Kingdom of God.

With such a moment in time and history in front of us, I believe that individually and collectively we here at Calvary need to be on our knees, seeking the face of God, praying “thy kingdom come, they will be done,” and whatever else the Holy Spirit lays on our hearts.  I usually pray my way around something - praying over the parts I can see and then, trusting God to hear when I don’t know how to pray over the parts I can’t see.  Scripture says the Holy Spirit will intercede when we don’t know how to pray.  I’ve relied on the Holy Spirit day after day after day since I came to Christ.

Let me offer a couple of thoughts:

  • There will be prayer direction and follow up conversation from General Conference the next three weeks in this Leader’s Update section. 

  • Monday night - 2/25 -  I’m inviting you, as a member of the Body of Christ, to gather at Calvary at 6:30pm to pray together as you are able. That’s the Monday before decisions are made on Tuesday, 2/26.  We’ll meet in the Parlor (and hopefully need to move to the worship center if we outgrow the Parlor).

  • After the General Conference Session on the 26th, I will, to the best of my ability and understanding, share what happened and how decisions made there might affect Calvary. My guess is there will be a lot of questions on procedure even after General

Conference is over.  I may need a bit of time to process, so please exercise the spiritual gift of patience.

Please be in prayer this week for the General Conference. Below is a suggested prayer activity for each day this week.


Give your ideas about the General Conference over to God - in others words: your views of General Conference, your views of the options, your views of notions and beliefs - give them over to God. Give the good, the bad, the confusion, and the unknown to God. Pray the name of Jesus over them and offer them God.


Pray over our delegates who are going. I know these folks and they are good people who love the Lord. We don’t agree on everything, but they are our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Clergy: Sylvester Weatherall, Andy Adams, Sara Isabell, Chris Ritter, Bob Phillips

Alternates: Randy Robinson, Roger Ross, Jan Griffith

Laity: Rhonda Whitaker, Bunny Wolfe, Kim Woods, Steve Shonert, Larry Weber 

Alternates: Marian McCray, Anish Hermon, Carol Sims


Pray over the Bishops who are presiding over the conference. Pray for wisdom, discernment, capacity to help everyone stay focused, and grace to lead through the strong feelings and disagreements.


Pray over the witness of the church to the city of St. Louis and to the rest of the world. Pray that the Holy Spirit help us to be at our best in disagreement. Pray that love and grace are left in the ears of those who hear our dialogue.


Begin to pray for a peace that passes all understanding to settle into the venue, into the delegates, into the Church as a whole.


Pray that God would speak a word to people everywhere to be still and know that He is God. Again, begin to pray the name of Jesus over those who are starting the journey to St. Louis. Pray for all of those who will help with the logistics as delegates arrive.


This is a day set aside for prayer in St. Louis. Please pray with them: Come Holy Spirit, come.  Come Holy Spirit, come.

Post Conference Briefings:

Bishop Beard will be hosting Post-General Conference Briefings.

The link to sign up is https://www.igrc.org/newsdetail/12748295You MUST register to go. If one of the sites below is not listed at the website, that means the site has filled.


Saturday, March 2 -- Champaign Faith UMC, 10 a.m.

Monday, March 4 -- Willow Hill UMC, East Peoria, 6:30 p.m. 

Thursday, March 7 -- Geneseo First UMC, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 9 -- O'Fallon First UMC, 10 a.m. 

Thursday, March 14 -- Harrisburg First UMC, 6:30 p.m.

Leader Update - February 10, 2019

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When Calvary hosts a funeral service, we have the opportunity to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus to those who have experienced loss in their lives. The service of worship held is meaningful; but often, the meal following the service is where the majority of ministry takes place. As people who follow Jesus, this shouldn’t surprise us. Much of Jesus’ ministry was done around the table at a meal. 

For many years, there have been many Calvary folks who have worked hard and behind the scenes to make this much needed and much appreciated ministry of funeral meals happen. We’re now ready to train and equip the next generation of servants to continue this ministry into the future. Opportunities to help vary and can be matched to your availability. If you’re looking for a way to get connected to a ministry that makes an impact in the lives of hurting people, we’d love to get you connected and continue the great work that is already happening. See Amanda or Angie at an Atrium Kiosk, email Amanda Nesby at Amanda.nesby@connectwithcalvary.org, or give Amanda a call at 309-808-4821.

Leader Update - February 3, 2019

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By Val Funk - Director of Kid Connections & Lori Short - Managing Director of Family Ministries

Calvary Kid Connections preschool fills the building with laughter and learning throughout the week. Kid Connections was founded in 1970 as an outreach ministry of Calvary United Methodist Church. Christian values combine with an academically sound, research-based curriculum to provide a safe, stimulating Christian preschool program in which each child is encouraged to reach his or her full potential. Kid Connections is a nationally accredited program where all children of all faiths are loved and welcome.

Our wonderful, caring and creative preschool staff, comprised of 6 teachers and one director, combine to lead 7 classes that take place during the day Monday through Thursday and serve 92 children. A preschool board made of Calvary members serves to oversee the mission and vision. Many families without a church home find the preschool to be their first step to claiming Calvary as their church home. Calvary’s Kid Connections Preschool is a place where kids have fun, learn, are given a foundation of God’s love and are loved!

Leader Update - January 27, 2019

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As winter weather begins to hit its stride, we wanted to take a moment to remind everyone where to find information about cancellations at the church (if they become necessary). We will always post cancellation information in two places:

  1. The very top banner of our website (www.connectwithcalvary.org) and 

  2. On our voicemail message (or via live person) at the main church phone number 309-452-5413.

If the weather looks somewhat threatening or if you hear of other cancellations in the area, it's always best to check either of these two sources to find out about cancellations at the church. Thank you for helping us all stay safe together as we connect with God, one another, and our world through worship, wisdom, and works.

Leader Update - January 20, 2019

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As we close the books on 2018, we wanted to share a financial update with the congregation. In many ways, 2018 was a year to celebrate God’s provision financially at Calvary. Below are a few highlights:

  • The mortgage was paid off and the Good Samaritan Fund was endowed through a generous estate gift of $3,729,000.

  • We were able to increase our operating capital to the top end of our approved limit (3 months) by the end of 2018.

  • Our total expenses for 2018 were 10% under budget. This came without the assistance of the mortgage retirement gift and mortgage payoff.

  • Our total expenses for 2018 were also 3% lower than our total expenses for 2017; again, without the assistance of the mortgage gift.

  • We ended the year with a surplus of $228,116.

  • Even though pledged giving was down 18%, our non-pledged giving was up 76% for an overall reduction in giving by 3.5% from 2017.

Please take a moment to thank God for a good financial year for Calvary. Pray also for continued ways to partner together through the ministry of generosity to bless those in the community and around the world in the name of Jesus.

Leader Update - January 13, 2019

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Please keep these Calvary Leaders in prayer as they serve this congregation and Christ's church all over the world through ministry at Calvary.

Church Council

Chair: Jon Butler (2020)

Secretary: Barb Bills (2018)

Lay Leader: Joe Landon (2020)

Mark O'Flaherty (Finance)

Amy Davis (outreach)

Jill Jones, Jon Butler, Alice Staley (Lay Members to Annual Conference)

Matt Swingler (Stewardship)

David Bollivar (Trustees Chairperson)

Dale Herring (SPRC)

Diana Brown (Lay Leadership Vice Chairperson)

Alice Staley (UMW)

**Rev. Randy Reese (Pastor)

**Dr. Isaac Gaff, **Lori Short, **Ray Slaubaugh (Staff Managing Directors)

Lay Members of Annual Conference

(2020) Jon Butler

(2020) Alice Staley

(2020) Ralph Smith

Committee on Nominations and Leadership Development

Chair of Nominations and Leadership Development: Rev. Randy Reese

Lay Leader: Joe Landon

Vice Chair: Diana Brown

(2019) Diana Brown, Ellie Dew, Tracy Vincent

(2020) Joe Perring, Tina Carby, Ralph Smith

(2021) Lindsay Mitchell, Beth Wall, Sarah Craft

Staff Parish Relations Committee

Chair: Dale Herring

(2019) Matt Harr, Amy Moser

(2020) Grethe Armstrong, Dale Herring, Judie Bennett

(2021) Elizabeth Simpson, Kaye Schroeder

Finance Committee

Chair: Mark O'Flaherty

(2019) Mark O’Flaherty, Jim Brown

(2020) Cathe Carter, John Croft

(2021) Stephanie Mattson, Suzann Reid

*Randy Reese (Pastor)

*Ray Slaubaugh (Director of Operations)

*Jon Butler (Chairperson of Church Council)

*Sandy Theile (Accountant)

*Kevin Hoss (Treasurer)

*Dale Herring (or other representative of SPRC)

*Joe Landon (Lay Leader)

Chairperson of Trustees

* Matt Swingler (Chairperson of Stewardship)

*Member of Finance by Virtue of Office

Strategic Leadership Team

(2019) Dawn Sanner, Joe Landon

(2020) Heather Plattner

(2021) Stacey Tetzloff

Stewardship Committee

Chair: Matt Swingler

(2019) Jim Brown, Diana Brown

(2020) Matt Swingler

(2021) Steve Seibring, Nancy Behrens

Board of Trustees

Chair: Ted Coussens

(2019) Gary Dickson

(2020) Larry Phillips, Susan Hoss, Rebecca Craig, Sandy Whiteley

(2021) Larry Oleson, Greg Webb, Jan Murray

Memorial Committee

Chairs: Libby Burns

(2019) Libby Burns, Betty Dorsey

(2020) Jean Wetter

United Methodist Women

President: Alice Staley


Chair: Amy Davis

(2019) Rob Wall

(2020) Ron Kennedy, Peggy Kennedy, Jim Jones, Trevor Perring(2021) Andrew Short, Mindy Goodman, Leann Fujimoto

Preschool Board

Chair: Angie Bicknell

Treasurer: Marcy Dienslake

(2019) Sandy Dickson, Angie Bicknell

(2020) Brooke Frantz, Melanie Moody, Megan Lieb, Penny Brown

(2021) Sue Rutkowski, Carrie Green

Leader Update - January 6, 2019

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Pastor Randy Reese - Directing Pastor

Looking ahead into 2019, here are some preaching - teaching plans that I’ve been working on.


  • The Words of Jesus - Who is Jesus?

  • The Ways of Jesus - How does Jesus do things?

  • The Witness of Jesus - To whom does Jesus witness or testify?

  • The Works of Jesus - What does Jesus do?

Series #1: Who Is Jesus?

  • 1/06 - “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12-20)

  • 1/13 - “I AM the Bread of Life” (John 6:22-35)

  • 1/20 - “I AM the Gate and the Good Shepherd (John 10:7-18)

  • 1/27 - “I AM the Way, the Truth, and The Life” (John 14:1-6) Ray Owens

Teaching/Conversation thoughts:

  • Sunday, 1/27 at 9:00am in the parlor - Special Called Session of General Conference information

  • “Living Faithfully - Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church” -Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm - 1/16, 1/23, 1/30, & 2/6

Leader Update - December 23, 2018

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By Pastor Randy Reese - Directing Pastor

In light of the upcoming celebration of the Christmas and New Year's holidays, the office and building schedule for the next week or so looks like this:

Office Hours:

  • 12/24 & 12/25 - closed

  • 12/26 & 12/27 - 8am - 5pm

  • 12/28 - 8am - 1pm

  • 12/31 - 8am - 12pm

  • 1/1 - closed

Building Hours:

  • 12/24 - gym closed

  • 12/25 - closed

  • 12/26 & 12/27 - 8am - 5pm

  • 12/28 - 8am - 1pm

  • 12/29 - closed

  • 12/31 - 8am - 12pm

  • 1/1 - closed

We will return to regular office & building hours on 1/2/19. 

And …. From all of us called the staff at Calvary United Methodist Church, we wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May God’s blessings and peace surround you.

Leader Update - December 16, 2018

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By Matt Swingler - Chair of Stewardship

Back in November, I provided an initial update on behalf of the Stewardship Committee to share Calvary's progress toward achieving the 2019 stewardship campaign goals. The yearly campaign plays a significant role in establishing the operational ministry budget which includes funding for ministry programs, facility needs, outreach initiatives, and congregational care.

Here we are one month later and rapidly approaching the start of a new year. While we continue to see the totals increase week over week, the number of pledges coming in has slowed in recent weeks. As a result, we still have a little bit of work to do to hit our target goals in order to position Calvary to continue its ministry and mission in the coming year. 

Stewardship campaign results thru December 5, 2018.

  • $1,041,487 in pledges target = $1,400,000

  • 19 new pledgers target = 30

  • 93 increased pledge amounts vs. prior year target = 150

  • 218 total pledges

For those individuals that haven't pledged yet, but still intend to do so, please visit the stewardship page on the Calvary website to learn more.

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace and joy as you celebrate Christ's birth this holiday season!

Leader Update - December 9, 2018

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By Pastor Randy Reese - Directing Pastor

Our Director of Building and Grounds, Larry Gamblin, is having hip replacement surgery on Monday, December 10th. We pray and wish him the best for the surgery and recovery. Our staff of custodians Karen, Darren, Javy, Anna, Noah, and Greg will handle the daily cleaning needs, set ups, lock-up, etc. Steve Paulin will oversee all maintenance related issues. For your needs, contact the church office Monday-Thursday, 8-5 and Fridays, 8-1. Should something arise outside of those hours, you can call Pastor Randy. Call the church number and in the message under emergencies it will ring to his cell phone or you can leave him a message.

Extra patience will be appreciated during this season. If you’d be willing to help with short notice should something arise (i.e. ice or snow during the week or Saturdays), send a note, an email, or talk to Amanda or Angie at the Connection Center kiosk.

Leader Update - December 2, 2018

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By Pastor Randy Reese - Directing Pastor

This past Sunday, I had a chance to meet with a number of folks who are interested in the matters before the 2019 Special Called Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. The conference is focused on one subject - the matter of human sexuality - and the search for a way to come to some agreement or direction or decision how we, the United Methodist Church can live with each other, even though we are separated by thought and theology on the LGBTQ matter.

The response to the two gatherings was good, and a request was made that I repeat the session at least once, or maybe twice more. I plan to offer a session on a Wednesday night early in January while Wednesday evening programming is going on and once more on a Sunday morning in January at 9:00am - this time with a time of explanation and then allowing for a time of testimony or sharing about this matter. 

For those of you who joined me last Sunday, thank you for your questions and your gracious spirit. I will at the next sessions again ask that we learn together what is coming before the General Conference without the debate of who’s right or wrong.

The notes from last Sunday can be found here. These are the Bishop’s notes from his gatherings.

I will also be leading (as may some others) a time of reflection and study using a book entitled “Living Faithfully - Human Sexuality and The United Methodist Church” from Abingdon Press. It can be used as a four week small group study for a short term group or an established small group. They can be found at Cokesbury and on Amazon. I have a few books left from last Sunday and have ordered another 25. They cost us about $10 if you want to make a donation or share in the cost, but I don’t want cost to be an issue - I would encourage you to just read with the hopes of understanding each other even if we never agree. Peace and Blessings!

Leader Update - November 25, 2018

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By Jon Butler - Chairperson of Church Council

The Church Council is a part of every United Methodist Church and is established by the Book of Discipline. The Council serves as the decision-making and oversight body for the church, except when votes of the entire membership are required. The council uses their meetings to focus on the issues that help to make Calvary the great church home that we all love. The council works with the appointed pastors as well as the Managing Directors from the staff to help guide the church through issues that range from the annual budget to strategic planning and goal setting.

The council is comprised of lay leaders, the pastors, the managing directors from the staff, as well as the chairs of the Finance, Stewardship, Board of Trustees, SPRC, Strategic Leadership and Outreach Committees. Because of the work of the Church Council, we have also been able to recently authorize and appoint members to our Safety Team as well as our Investment Team (thanks to a significant donation to the church).

The group takes time to discuss and consider recommendations and actions from these committees as well as take a “whole church” look at how we operate and how all of these pieces fit together. Please be assured that we take this work very seriously and that we do our best to help Calvary connect with God, with one another and with our world.

Leader Updates - November 18, 2018

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By Matt Swingler - Chairperson of Stewardship Team

Four weeks ago, we kicked off the 2019 Stewardship campaign here at Calvary - a campaign centered on the theme of Building on the Past, Looking to the Future. Each week, we've had an opportunity to hear first hand from fellow members what stewardship means to them and why they choose to make a financial commitment to Calvary.

This week, the Stewardship Committee would like to provide a quick update on where we currently stand in relation to our targeted goals.

  • $900,000 in pledges to date (target = $1,400,000)

  • 9 new pledgers (target = 30)

  • 58 increased pledge amounts vs. prior year (target = 150)

  • 118 total pledges

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it's only fitting that we express our thanks and gratitude to those of you that have already submitted your pledge for next year. Your partnership will enable Calvary to continue its ministry and mission. And if you haven't completed your pledge just yet, no worries.....you still have an opportunity to do so here or returning the pledge card.

Leader Updates - November 11, 2018

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By Pastor Randy Reese - Directing Pastor

Calvary UMC has been a long time partner with the ministry of the Baby Fold. The church tithes it’s income to outreach ministries - some through the United Methodist Church and the rest is shared through the work of the Outreach Team. We are a Guardian Sponsor of the Baby Fold which means a support level of $10,000 a year plus the extras given through special askings and gifts. 

While churches, businesses, and individuals support the work, their Festival of Trees event each year adds resources to the work done there. Here’s their invitation to you from Norris Porter, Assistant Vice President - Major Gifts and Planned Giving. Norris is one of many of Calvary’s family who work at the Baby Fold. We also have a good number of our church family who lead and serve there in a variety of ways.


The Baby Fold’s 25th annual Festival of Trees is November 16-18 at The Interstate Center. Calvary is a faithful Guardian Sponsor because we know the importance of The Baby Fold’s mission - to help children and families have hope in a bright future. Come and see the Christmas beauty - over 100 trees, 90 wreaths, 90 gingerbread houses, and so much more. Come for some family fun while helping families in our communities to become whole, healthy, and self-sufficient. Tickets may be purchased in advance on- line at www.festoftrees.org or at the door. See you there!

Leader Updates - November 4, 2018

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By Lori Short - Managing Director of Family Ministry

Connecting is important to who we are as Calvary. We intentionally set aside the First Wednesday of the month to connect as an intergenerational family--with all ages in the same place. Why is this important? God designed us to live in community. Research from Fuller Youth Institute found that youth who felt involved and connected to the larger church had a much greater chance of remaining in church post high school. In addition, many of you have shared that you want to see and interact with children, youth and people of different ages/stages. People often only know others who attend the same Sunday worship service or class. We are a congregation of many interests, united by our love of Jesus! So, to address all of this, we set aside a time to meet as a whole church family--a family reunion--each First Wednesday during the school year. 

Each month’s event looks a little different but usually includes a meal. Often La Gondola (torpedo, chips, cookie) is offered, but potlucks, a chili-cook-off, taco bar, and other foods have also been enjoyed. Whatever the food, we engage around the dinner table, as a family, with conversation which allows for deepening relationships. Following dinner, we play games, learn together or serve together such as making fleece blankets or packaging meals. Service opportunities are favored, therefore many months are now centered around a mission project. Whatever the activity, the nights are designed for all-ages to interact together.

Whether you’ve never attended First Wednesday, it’s been a while, or you come every month, I encourage you to join in these Calvary family reunions. You’re an important part of our family, and there’s always a spot for you at the table.

Leader Updates - October 28, 2018

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New Outreach Coordinator

Outreach Ministry has always been an important part of mission and vision here at Calvary.  We set aside a good portion of our budget and ministry plan to engage with those Jesus identifies as most like himself – the poor, the hungry, the lonely, the under-resourced (see Matthew 25:34-46). We’re excited to enter a new chapter in this ministry with the addition of Al Behrens to the Calvary Ministry Staff. Al will serve as Calvary’s Outreach Coordinator. Al will work with the Outreach Committee, staff, and congregation to facilitate our growing outreach efforts throughout Bloomington/Normal and around the world. Please welcome this familiar face into this new role!