In 1889 a few immigrants gathered together as the Swedish Reformed Church and began meeting in Boulder Colorado. Today, their sons and daughters were in attendance at Calvary Bible Church, 120 years later.
It was a rich time together, my mind and heart are full, so I'm going to go about this the only way I know how . . . . random style.
--We had 2 former pastors share along with our current pastor, Rev. Tom Shirk, today. Rev. R.W. Hauser (pastor from 1961-68) was supposed to speak for 5 minutes and took 20. (smile). But, this was one of the richest encouragements I've ever heard from the pulpit. As he looked out on the church he helped to build, he exhorted us, through tears, to hold to the innerancy and authority of scripture.
"Keep it that way" he said, with full emotion. That means a little more coming from a guy who's preached the word for 50 + years.
--Then Rev. Culbertson (pastor from 1971-93) spoke and told of his bookcase full of pictures from his time here. His wife battles severe Parkinson's disease and doesn't do well in airports, so he drove from Wisconsin to be with us this morning. That meant a lot to me, he was a dear man and encouraged us to dream about the future God has for our church. Again, that means alot coming from an older man. Thanks to him and his wife for making the trek.
--Being a college town, we have many nationalities present in our church, and as we remembered Calvary's missionary legacy, we read our passage for the morning, Psalm 96:3-4 in 11 different languages
My favorite was going from an African tongue (the name escapes me) to Spanish. They could not have been more different! (smile). Also, to hear that passage in Greek was special. . Astrik Deirmendjian (84 years old) got up there and read it loud and proud. She was poking around the office this week looking for the Septuagint (the Greek old testament), to our shame, we didn't have one anywhere! But, she found a translation, and did a great job.
--We had 120 years of history on display inside the church, (much of it was in Swedish, we didn't switch languages until the early 1900's) and after the service, as I was tearing down equipment, Wally and Joann Schielke, (82 and 79 years old) pulled me aside and showed me some pictures that they were in from 1952. Her words were powerful to me.
--She talked about how "everyone had a job and everyone did something back in those days", "there weren't many of us". They helped to drywall the old church building on Broadway and Balsam, and everyone served. It struck me how we have trouble staffing our children's ministry from Sunday to Sunday.
--Wally wanted me to make sure we gave credit to someone who wasn't recognized in this morning's service. Done:
Gordon Oskarson was a missionary to China and when he came home to Bouulder in the 50's he bought the land on Broadway and Balsam and sold it to Calvary for us to build our building. A few years later, the church was in pretty bad financial shape, so Gordon bought the property back from from the church and gave it to the church AGAIN, so that we could continue to meet. An amazing, amazing story.
Wally said, "Gordon is a real un-sung hero in this story, and wasn't recognized this morning". What a great man. . . I"m pretty sure he didn't ask for the tax write-off either (smile).
Thank you Gordon! You were remembered today among Wally, Joann and myself.
--I was struck at our church's perseverance through the Great Depression. We almost folded, membership and money were down. But, that small group of believers persevered through it. . . I"m grateful for that. Today folks leave a church when they don't like the music or when the pastor says something that offends them. . . . try sticking with your church through the Great Depression!
All in all, these saints humble us, and show us what real sacrifice, perseverance, and faithfulness are all about. I'm humbled to be in their presence and to sing with them. And, I'm humbled for how faithful God has been to us, and how great He has shown Himself to be.
To God be the Glory, . . here's to 120 more years (that's 2129 Tom! (sorry couldn't resist))