BARNUM - Members, family and friends of Calvary Presbyterian Church will gather for a final time on Sunday to worship in the church that has served them for decades.
A service of celebration and thanksgiving will be held at 10:30 a.m., followed by dinner. The closing worship service will be at 2 p.m. This day of celebration and remembrance is open to the public.
The Rev. Jim Davis of Countryside Ministry, where Calvary was one of six sister congregations, said that members of Calvary were not ready to cease as a congregation, but they believed continuing to maintain their building was not the best stewardship of their resources. In the summer of 2009, church members decided to close the building and return to where they began, worshipping in the homes of members.
Although it was a painful decision, he said, members of Calvary say they believe this is where God is calling them.
While Sunday will be the final time worship will be held in the Calvary church - the building will be taken down sometime during the next several months - the congregation of Calvary Presbyterian will continue to exist, meeting in the homes of members.
Before the first church was built in 1898, a county mission met in various homes over a long period of time. Some of the early speakers were Sen. J.P. Dolliver and the Rev. Lyman C. Gray, who officiated at weddings.
The Rev. Milton Greene, of Fort Dodge, was a member of the committee on home missions from 1894 to 1898, and since we were a mission of the First Presbyterian Church of Fort Dodge, it was through his efforts that Calvary was organized, said Calvary's pastor, the Rev. Jim Davis.
The first building was constructed at its present location 2 1/2 miles southwest of Barnum on an acre of land donated by T. J. Hill. It was dedicated July 24, 1898, under the name First Presbyterian Church of Johnson Township, Webster County. The congregation independently organized one year later on Oct. 26, 1899.
Many members wanted to name the new church for Greene, but it was he who insisted that it be called Calvary. Soon after that, Greene returned to the mission field in Puerto Rico and established several churches there, and later in Cuba. He died in 1921 in Wisconsin.
With this background, it is no wonder that Calvary has always been a church with a mission, both at home and abroad.
The first pastor was the Rev. W.A. Pinkerton. The first building committee was John P. Walrod, Archibald Black Sr. and Albert Bakey.
On Aug. 29, 1936, the church building was struck by lightning and burned. The present church was built on the same site, and dedicated June 26, 1938, with the Rev. George Steele as pastor. Serving on the building committee were Herman Walrod, Ralph Brown, Arthur Ruebel, Horace Julius and Otto Schmidt.
In 1940 the basement entrance on the southwest corner of the church was added.
Calvary's congregation continued to grow and was a vibrant rural mission for decades; however, the exodus of people from rural to urban areas began to take its toll. In the 1950s, Calvary was no longer able to support a full-time minister, so they shared a minister with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fort Dodge. This arrangement lasted for 10 years.
Rev. Norman FrerKing was called in 1985, and he would serve Calvary on a part-time basis for the next 17 years, retiring in 2002 after he suffered a stroke.
Calvary continued to strengthen its local mission during FrerKing's pastorate. As the church grew in its support of the Presbyterian Bible Camp at Milford, it developed a relationship with Coppin Chapel in Fort Dodge and participated in joint worship services with neighboring congregations.
Calvary joined a shared ministry with other area congregations in the spring of 2001, resulting in the creation of Countryside Ministry in the fall of 2001. Six congregations - Calvary Presbyterian Church, Barnum; Fulton Lutheran Church, Roelyn; United Church of Christ/Congregational, Moorland; Zion Lutheran Church, Gowrie; Faith Lutheran Church, Harcourt; and Trinity Lutheran Church, Boxholm - formed a cooperative ministry in which they shared staff and programs.
Calvary has not only benefited from being part of Countryside Ministry, but it has also offered a wealth of leadership and support for the programs of Countryside Ministry during the past nine years.