Birthday Party for Jesus

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Come celebrate with KidVenture at a birthday party for Jesus on Wednesday, December 19th from 6:30-7:30pm in Rooms 111 & 115. Bring a package of diapers or another baby item to donate to The Baby Fold's Healthy Start program. We will end the evening with a live Nativity featuring some of our oldest KidVenture students beginning around 7:10pm in the Worship Center. All are welcome!

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!

Donate Your Car

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The Tornquist Family Foundation is a 501 C3 non-profit organization that helps low income families obtain transportation. Did you know that you can make a tax deductible gift of your used vehicle and help a family obtain transportation? For details and more information about how you can help, contact John Tornquist at 309-663-1428 or via email. To learn more about the organization, visit our website.

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.

Midwest Food Bank Volunteer Opportunity

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On Thursday, December 13 from 6-8pm volunteers from Calvary will meet at the Food Bank where we will learn our task for the evening. A typical night at the warehouse consists of doing one or two of the following: repackaging individual food items, putting bulk items in smaller bags, or marking out labels on packages so the items can be shipped off to a place of severe need. This is a great way to serve our community. NEW: children ages 5-9 may now volunteer with a parent and those ages 10-17 may volunteer with a group who is bringing adult leaders. We greatly appreciate your willingness to give a helping hand. Space is limited to the first 30 volunteers who sign up. Sign up at here.

The Amazon Women CDs to Benefit Midwest Food Bank

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The Amazon Women will be selling their new album titled “Grace” as well as their original Christmas album with all proceeds to benefit the Midwest Food Bank. Both albums will be available as a CD or a digital download. Suggested donations are $15 per album or $25 for both. They will be available at a Connections Center kiosk on Sunday morning, December 16th and also in the church office for the next couple weeks.

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!

Christmas Offering

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The Calvary Church family is again this year receiving a Christmas offering - an extra mile gift that speaks of our heart to make a difference in the lives of others during this Christmas season. This year, the Church Council decided to give the Christmas offering to the Baby Fold. Of course, you may direct your Christmas gift to any place of your choosing and we will get it there, but we’re going to focus on the Baby Fold. You can designate which of these three areas of Baby Fold ministry you want your gift directed to or you can simply give and we’ll let them direct it to one of these three areas:

  1. The foster care parent support and training program.

  2. A need to upgrade the sensory rooms as well as a need for specialized equipment for children on the autism spectrum.

  3. A van for transportation of their students in the vocational program at the Hammitt Junior-Senior High to various local business partners. Work skills are integrated with the curriculum and help students develop skills to thrive so they can become fully contributing members of the community.

Your gift may be given via check, noting at the bottom your desired direction, or through any of our online giving options.

Christmas 2018 Staff Love Offering

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The Staff Parish Relations Committee invites the congregation to share our appreciation for Calvary’s staff this Christmas for all of the hard work they do throughout the year! A collection will be taken up between now and Christmas. There are a variety of ways to contribute including: write a check with ‘staff appreciation’ on the memo line, give through the Calvary app, or online. Thank you for loving on Calvary’s staff this Christmas Season!

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.

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.

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 9:00pm (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.

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!

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.