December First Wednesday - Chili Cook-Off

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Join us for December's First Wednesday, December 5th from 6-7pm, for Calvary's 2nd annual Chili Cook-off! We will also complete a project for our neighbors at Evergreen and end the evening by singing Christmas carols together. Register here to enter your chili, to bring other needed items for the evening, or simply to tell us you'll be joining us. Questions? Contact Lori Short.

New Never Grow Old Sunday School Class

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Ted Mims will be teaching a new Never Grow Old Sunday School Class. The class will begin on December 2, 2018 and meet from 10:30 – 11:30am in Room L6. The Adult Bible Study materials from Cokesbury will be used for the class. The format will include a prayer opening led by a class member or the teacher and review of the scripture associated with the lesson materials including Synthesis, Analysis and Evaluation of scripture and how it applies to our lives. Ted is a retired teacher and Department Head of Computer Science at the University of Illinois Springfield. He has previously served as a Sunday School teacher and Director of Sunday School at other churches prior to moving to Normal and Calvary. All are welcome to attend!

Angel Tree

The Angel Tree is a program of Prison Fellowship.  The Angel Tree connects parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts given on the parent’s behalf.  If you would like to purchase a gift for a child on behalf of their parent, Angel Tags will be on display in the atrium on November 18th and 25th, and December 2nd.  Angel tags will include the child’s first name, age, gender, gift suggestion, and message from the incarcerated parent.  Purchase one gift valued between $15-$25.  Wrapped gifts need to be returned to the church by December 9th.  If you would like to help with the Angel Tree, please contact Melissa Morris at 309-212-0470 or by visiting her at the Connections Center Atrium Kiosk.  Please let Melissa know if you can help sort gifts on December 13th and/or help deliver gifts on December 15th.

General Conference 2019 Conversation

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Pastor Randy will be in the Library on Sunday, November 25th at both 9:00 and 10:30 to talk about the focus of the Special Called Session of General Conference in February 2019. There is deep disagreement about what the UMC should teach about homosexuality, same-gender marriage, and the ordination of LGBTQ persons. The February session of the General Conference will be held to consider these issues and how they will be addressed by the UMC in the future. “My plan is to share with those who attend my best understanding of the 3 options being proposed at this special session in February. My intention is not to make judgements for any plan nor to get into discussions or debate regarding the human sexuality issue. Just like the whole of the UMC, Calvary has a broad, end to end spectrum of thought on this matter of human sexuality.” 

We also intend to offer a study in January called Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and The United Methodist Church. You can order the book to read personally, use in the study in January, or use in a small group setting. 

This is a highly charged issue, both within the church, nationally, and internationally. We in the church need to have conversation with each other - in the presence of the Holy Spirit - how we live life together in this day and time.

We will meet in the parlor at 9:00 and 10:30 next Sunday. We will continue to add chairs to the room as needed so patience may be needed when we get there.

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 still have an opportunity to do so here or returning the pledge card.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Schedule

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Join in the celebration of Christ’s birth at one of the following Candlelight Christmas Eve services:

  • Sunday, December 23 at 6:30pm (music similar to our 10:30 service)

  • Monday, December 24 at 3:00pm (music similar to our 9:00 service)

  • Monday, December 24 at 5:00pm (music similar to our 9:00 service)

  • Monday, December 24 at 7:00pm (acoustic music)

  • Monday, December 24 at 7:00pm (acoustic music)

Please note that we will have Sunday morning service at our regular times on December 23rd to celebrate the 4th Sunday in Advent - these Sunday morning services will not be Candlelight Christmas Eve services.

The Pause Before Christmas

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Heart and Soul, a women’s ministry of Calvary, invites all women to pause before the hustle and bustle of the holidays. A special evening for you is being planned on Tuesday, Nov. 27th from 6:30 to 8:00 pm in the gym. Guest speaker Wilma McLaughlin of Agape Counseling will be speaking on “What Am I Waiting For?” In addition to her message, there will be special music, dessert, an array of Nativity scenes to view, and time to visit with new or long-time friends. Junior and senior high daughters are also invited to join us for the evening. Childcare will be available. Please register online, at a Connections Center Kiosk, or by calling the church office.

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 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!

Christmas Poinsettias

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The Memorial Committee will be offering the option for you to purchase Poinsettias "In Memory Of or In Honor Of" individuals. They will be placed in the Worship Center during the Advent Season. Orders for the Poinsettias may be placed here or at a Connections Center Kiosk on Sunday November 4th, 11th and 18th. The cost of Poinsettias will be $20.00. All orders must be received no later than November 18th.

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 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.

2019 Stewardship Pledging


2019 Pledge Cards are available in today’s bulletin, at the Welcome Center, Connections Center Kiosk, Hub Desk, and online. Our online experience includes videos from Calvary members outlining why they invest in the ministries of Calvary and an interactive pledge calculator that can help you take a step toward tithing. Pledge Cards can be placed in the offering, dropped by the church office, or mailed to the church at your convenience. Online pledges are automatically sent to the office.

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

IMPORTANT UPDATE on Meeting on LGBTQ Conference Meeting in Chatsworth

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I need to tell you that I missed something important for attending Saturday's gathering with the Bishop in Chatsworth. I received word this morning that registration closed. I didn't register so I can't go either. My APOLOGIES in a big way. Because I'm not sure who was planning to go, I have no other way to let folks know then our communication stream via email, facebook, tweets, etc.

The good news is that the session will available for us to download after Nov. 20 so we'll provide a link as soon as we get it. Again, my apologies.

If you would like to attend the session at First UMC in Peoria, as of this writing, there are still seats available for Nov 18 at 4pm. You can sign up here.

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.