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!

Leader Updates - October 21, 2018

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Rev. Ray Owens - Pastor of Visitation

As Calvary United Methodist Church’s Pastor of Visitation, I am privileged to be with members and friends of our church family and their loved ones at very important moments in their lives. Praying prior to surgical procedures, hospital visits following surgeries, visits with those who are suffering from illnesses, home visits following discharges, and phone calls prior to and following medical events are all ways in which I am able to offer God’s comfort and encouragement at these important times.

Each weekday, Angie Bicknell, our church office coordinator, calls our two local hospitals inquiring as to whether any of our church family are patients. She then contacts me via basecamp letting me know of such admissions.

With current HIPPA laws protecting patient privacy, it is up to each person to indicate that Calvary UMC is their church home. In addition, members can contact the church office letting us know of an approaching admission. You can also call or text me at 309-242-0362 or e-mail me at ray.owens@connectwithcalvary.org to let me know of a pending admission.

In addition to these hospital calls, I visit our members who are homebound or residents in nursing care facilities. I am also privileged to provide vesper services at Westminster Village, officiate the Celebration of Life of church and community members and officiate their weddings. The Call to pastoral ministry does not end with one’s retirement. I am most grateful for the opportunities that our Calvary UMC family provides me in continuing to fulfill this Call.

Leader Updates - October 14, 2018

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The generous mortgage retirement gift along with careful spending by the staff has allowed Calvary to experience a drop in expenses for the year. While this decrease in expenses is something to be thankful for, the finance committee is concerned that giving income for the year has decreased as well. Because of the reduction in expenses, we are in a stable financial position, even though giving income is less than anticipated. In order to fulfill our ministry plan for the year, we can not rely on expense budget cuts alone. Please prayerfully consider how you might be able to contribute to this shortfall as we finish the year strong. We want to accomplish all the ministry that God has called us to this year. Thank you for being a part of what God is doing here in Bloomington-Normal, across the country, and around the world through the ministry of Calvary.

Mark O’Flaherty - Finance Committee Chair

Leader Updates - October 7, 2018

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Larry Gamblin - Director of Building & Grounds

If you were at or by the church last week, you saw the big lift that was in the front of the building, in fact in the circle drive most of the week. 

Leaks at the main entrance of our building have been a problem for many years. Union Roofing was hired in the summer of 2018 to assess the steeple tower and look for the cause of these leaks. Water was found to be entering the building after running down the steel steeple frame. Thus, water soaked the carpet around the columns, especially the ones at the front of the building. There are aluminum drain pans at the base of the tower. These pans are suspended about 50’ from the ground, necessitating a 100 foot lift in order to reach the back side of the tower. The old sealant was removed and new black sealant was applied at the joints. When we had rain around September 1st, it became apparent that there was still a leak around the bottom of the column beam. After the Dryvit (finish on the exterior of the columns) was repaired on September 27th, the lift was available and Union Roofing returned on September 28th to search for the remaining leak. With water from a hose, this leak was located where a brace had been welded to one of the columns. A small hole from the welding process allowed water to come in. Now that the leak source has been determined and repaired, we will be able to repair the damaged drywall in the main entrance of the building.

Leader Updates - September 30, 2018

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As many storms have taken their toll in different areas around the world, including hurricane Florence along the eastern coast of the United States and super typhoon Mangkhut near the Phillipines and mainland China, please join us in prayer for those who have been impacted. As of noon last Thursday, UMCOR and her partners deployed the Early Response Teams and supplies for communities along the East Coast. UMCOR International Response is in close communication with our partners in the Philippines.

Remember, using UMCOR as the avenue to giving means that 100% of you gift goes to the Carolina relief. No administrative expenses are taken from your gift.

Gifts to help in the relief effort can be given directly to Calvary UMC - Carolina Relief if you’re writing a check or by using our electronic means of giving through the website, the Calvary app or by following the instructions in the bulletin if you choose to text a gift. If you have any questions, check with Angie or Amanda at the Connections Center kiosk Sunday mornings, call the church office, or drop us an email.

Blessings and peace

Leader Updates - September 23, 2018

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As we approach Pastor Debbie’s retirement date, the Staff Parish Relations Committee has been diligently working with Pastor Randy, Calvary’s Staff and our District Superintendent in order to make sure Calvary’s spiritual needs and administrative requirements continue to be fulfilled. We do not want to make hurried decisions with Pastor Debbie’s departure but rather we are currently assessing the needs of our Church to look for a possible solution or solutions as we go forward into the fall. SPRC will continue assessing the many rolls and tasks that Debbie handled and determine how best to progress in meeting Calvary’s needs. As we continue this process we certainly ask for your continued prayers for wisdom and discernment during this time of transition for our Church. 

With Pastor Debbie’s retirement as of September 30th, SPRC is honoring her request to not have a retirement open house or celebration. However, we will have a collection box in the atrium over the next few weeks to collect retirement cards for her.

If anyone has any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact one of the SPRC members.

Leader Updates - September 16, 2018

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David Bolliver - Trustee Chair

The Trustees committee would like to make members aware of some current projects and give a glimpse into our future plans for maintaining the church. In the next few weeks, the towers below the steeple will be repaired and resealed. Larry Gamblin has been working to ensure that we had the areas above the towers properly sealed so that the repairs would be permanent. Flooring in the parlor, preschool rooms and nurseries will be removed and replaced within the next month or two. It has been ordered and once it arrives installation can be scheduled. 

Looking ahead, we are in the process of getting bids to replace our lighting with LED lights with the prospect of saving $1200.00 per month on electricity. In the next two years we are planning to have additional flooring replaced, reseal the parking lot and work with the safety team to install equipment to enhance safety. In addition, we will need to begin replacing some of the original equipment like water heaters that were installed in the building originally. We are blessed to have such a great facility and staff that maintain it so well.

Leader Updates - September 9, 2018

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Randy Reese

What happens next? That question is on a lot of people’s minds as the church digests the announcement of Pastor Deb’s retirement effective September 30th. 

The Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC), our Lay Leader Joe Landon, the Managing Directors Team (Pastor Randy, Pastor Debbie (until 9/30), Isaac Gaff, Lori Short, Ray Slaubaugh), and our District Superintendent, Rev. Jim Barnett are in prayer, discussion, and discernment about what the next step is for Calvary. As I said last Sunday, the most important step is to pray - to wait upon the Lord - and then to pray some more. The compelling question is what is the best for God’s Kingdom church called Calvary. How do we care for the ministries over which Pastor Deb has primary responsible - like The Outreach Team, small groups, young adults group, and her counseling time. In addition, she and Pastor Randy partner on preaching, weddings, funerals, baptisms, new member process, worship planning, and the list goes on. The big picture view as well as the nuts, bolts, and details view are all on the table.

Please be assured that Deb is making sure that the ministries for which she is responsible are covered in this interim.

I’m encouraging you to be a part of the process of discernment by praying as well using, if you wish, the following framework:

1)Thank God that He is God and has His hand firmly on Calvary
2)Ask God to give His wisdom to those involved in the
Discernment process - the SPRC, Pastor Randy, Rev. Jim
Barnett, the Directing Team
3)Surrender to God’s will - pray against Satan causing confusion and chaos through this time of change in Jesus mighty name.

Your faithfulness in prayer is the most important piece as we work through this new season in ministry.

Blessings and peace,
Pastor Randy

Leader Updates - September 2, 2018

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Debbie Reese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I want to share with you that my relationship with Calvary is going to change…..I’ll be around, but just not as often.  For the reasons I’ll state below, I have chosen to retire as of September 30, 2018.

The multiple health problems I’ve experienced over the past couple of years have left me with a much lower energy reserve than before.  While I continue to give Calvary 110%, it now takes more out of me than before.  Calvary is an awesome, active church that requires long hours and high energy.  I realize that my heart and soul are lively, but my body seems not to be able to keep up.  In fact, I have just scheduled a shoulder replacement surgery after my doctor told me that was the only viable option for me at this time. 

In addition, my mother-in-law lives with Randy’s brother, David, in Greenfield, Illinois. She is 95 years old and is home alone while David works as a carpenter in that area of the state.  She has recently suffered what we believe to be a TIA (transient ischemic attack) leaving her confused about where she is living (she lives in the home she and her husband built over 50 years ago).

While praying about next steps, both Randy and I felt that God was leading us to care for Mom in our home for the remainder of her days.  Since she has many ‘female’ needs, I suggested that it should be me who cares for her.

Randy and I have prayed long and hard about this decision and God has shown us ways in which we can make all of this happen.  Be assured that we are working with the Staff Parish Relations Committee to assure that my retirement will not create any lapses in ministry…..and that may mean that God will call some of you to take on ministries in a new way.  Whatever happens, God is still on the throne.

While I will not be at the church as often as before, I will be giving 100% of my heart.  Maybe I will even serve alongside of you as a volunteer sometime!

Thank you for understanding our choice for this next chapter in our lives.

In Christ,
Debbie Reese