Calvin Presbyterian Church
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Part IV:  The Ambivalent Eighties


“Getting on with business” is the phrase that Pastor Kranzley used in his annual report for 1980, and it was an apt expression for a church that had moved from the sting of financial pain at the beginning of the 1970s, through a period of explosive growth and, finally, the completion (not without pain) of a new sanctuary and fellowship hall. Our facilities were in place, our people were primed for mission, and the new decade promised to be one of continued growth and service to the larger community. 1980 was the year that Calvin joined IPM, the Inter-Parish Ministry and, along with our membership in SEM, the Southeastern Ecumenical Ministry, we expanded and improved upon our ecumenical relations. In 1980, Sharon Brummett was the Chair of the SEM Legislative Board. We participated in the Beech Acres Feast with a cookie booth. 80 children dazzled us with Vacation Bible School, and the Memorial Garden in memory of Ron Verwold was completed. Carolyn Stephens chaired the first Worship Committee, and the Session included Jerry Arnst, Paul Barbro, Bob Bridges, Joyce Elliott, Helen Lang, John Middleton, Bonny Parker, Ray Rumke, and Carolyn Stephens.


If you were around in 1980 at the end of the Carter Administration, you can remember some of the worst inflation and interest rates ever. Our church and the new facility were not immune to these problems; in fact, the new building and its mortgage was the source of the problem. Our adjustable rate mortgage increased substantially, and the increased mortgage payment was enough to put us in financial difficulty. Even though our membership was a hefty 255, there was not enough income to sustain our budget. During 1981, Session undertook some cost-cutting measures including the elimination of a paid babysitter, a policy to rent out church space for income, recycle collections, a big cut in the mission budget and a pastor’s salary freeze in return for a three month leave of absence. There were some good events in 1981 to counterbalance the budget crunch. Jane Wiseman reported that we added 10 new choir members and George Hupp was appointed parish associate.


Here it was 1982 and we were planning to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Kate Williams chaired the committee to plan for the event. Pastor Kranzley was in his tenth year as our minister, and the church had grown steadily during his tenure, and the year ended with 266 members. At mid-year the church was rocked back on its collective heels as Pastor Rick announced that he was leaving at the end of July to become pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church across town. During September, Parish Associate George Hupp filled the pulpit, while Bart Brenner became our interim minister in October. Those able gentlemen were instrumental in maintaining the programs of the church and the morale of the congregation, along with our capable and can-do Session.


By 1983, our financial situation was back to normal, Bart Brenner was doing an exceptional job of church-leading as our interim pastor, and our Pastor Nominating Committee was looking for a new pastor.  Kay Horning and Sid Martin taught a Kerygma Bible study class.  Church membership was holding up very well during the interim period, and we closed the year with a membership of 272.  In July the PNC presented the Rev. Bryce McGowan to the congregation.  He was approved and began his ministry with us in October.  We said goodbye to Bart Brenner who moved on to the Loveland church as their stated supply.  The church had weathered the 14 month interim period without skipping a beat, and we were primed to continue the progress that we expected. 

Rev. Bryce McGowan

1984 did not disappoint us; our year-end membership was at 276, an all-time high, and our pledges had increased from 74 to 111 during the 1984 pledge campaign that was specifically targeted to those young people who had

not previously committed themselves financially to the church.  In 1985, we had our first Thanksgiving Stewardship dinner, and it was followed in December by a live nativity scene.  Rande Stefanski was editor of the Calvin Caller.  Still, all was not well at Calvin.  There was an undercurrent of resentment by some toward the Rev. McGowan, and our all-time high membership fell from 276 to 238 at year end.



You who attend annual congregational meetings know that they are generally all sweetness and light.  Pastors get their annual raises, committee reports get accepted with little comment, and budgets get picked on.  This was not so at Calvin’s annual meeting in January, 1986.  Some members who were opposed to Bryce voiced their displeasure, and it was clear to all that we had a pastor problem that needed fixing.  A three member committee, composed of Bob Bridges, JoAnne Davis, and Rande Stefanski, was appointed to interview members of the congregation and the pastor, and to present its findings to Session.  Their interviews revealed that approximately one-third of the congregation supported the Pastor, one-third of the congregation were neutral, and approximately one-third of the congregation had trouble with the pastor, particularly with respect to issues of confidentiality, lack of leadership, and weak sermons.  Our impending struggle was mercifully cancelled when Pastor McGowan announced that he would leave Calvin at the end of June, 1986, to become a retirement community administrator.


The year preceding Pastor McGowan’s departure had weakened the church.  A number of people had withheld or reduced their pledges and, once again the church faced financial difficulties.  Some were happy with Pastor McGowan’s departure, while others were unhappy.  An unexpected consequence was the attitude of the Presbytery who directed Session to work with the Presbytery Committee on Ministry and conduct workshops with the congregation to alleviate our “hostility” and “negative attitudes”.  The Presbytery advised us that all of the above items needed to be accomplished before they would be able to let us proceed with a search for a new minister. 



Perhaps the most helpful measure taken to put us on the path to normalcy was the appointment of the Rev. David Black in August, 1986, to be our interim minister during this period of readjustment.  He was well-suited in temperament and reconciliation skills to lead us through the period ahead.  On the “good news” side, Jane Wiseman celebrated her 25th year as the Calvin choir director, and Ralph Campbell served as editor of the Calvin Caller.

 Rev. David Black


In 1987, our 30th anniversary dinner, called “A Tribute to Calvin,” featured past members and pastors and enabled us to reflect on the highs and lows of the past three decades. David Black continued as our interim minister, and our membership was down to 198 at year-end. Mark Grippa chaired a self-study committee, and Presbytery gave us the green light to form a pastor nominating committee in December. We were finally getting back to normal. 1988 saw Patti Hattendorf and Helen Lang teaching adult Sunday school, Ken Ellis attempting to reactivate the men’s group, Ralph Campbell becoming the clerk of session (he’s still there!), and Joyce Campbell in the church office. The organ was moved to the left side of the sanctuary, and new choir robes were purchased and arrived just in time for Christmas. The PNC was busy at work, but their efforts were set back when a candidate whom they were going to pursue withdrew in mid-summer. They went back to work and, late in the year, were attracted to a candidate from the Ludlow Church. Chairman John Wiseman and the Pastor Nominating Committee were confident that they had a special Christmas present for Calvin Church. On January 8th, 1989, the congregation called Jim Bernard to be Pastor of Calvin Presbyterian Church.


On to The 90's - the end of a century

Back to The Sensational Seventies 


Home Page: A History of Calvin Church


During 2007, Bob Bridges, our church's resident historian, reminisced about each decade of Calvin’s existence. Although he wasn’t at the church in the ‘50s, he's spoken with many who were. He has pieced together a sketch of those earliest years.  In 2010, he updated the church's history.



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