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Part V:  The 90's - The End of  a Century

1989 Through 1999 of the Bernard Era


Pastor Nominating Committees are the vehicles by which churches looking for pastors seek out ministers looking for churches. Calvin’s PNC, chaired by John Wiseman, had been elected by the congregation in September 1987, and was composed of Bob Bridges, Joyce Campbell, Harry Fry, Wilma Glover, Mark Grippa, Betty Higgenbotham, Marty Nordsieck, and Sandy Stara. In addition, the Rev. Mr. Lloyd Baird of the Batavia Church was our very helpful Presbytery liaison. A national Presbyterian clearing house collects resumes from pastors seeking new pulpits and information forms from churches seeking pastors and attempts to match the two groups.


The process was lengthy, time-consuming, and paper-intensive, but also produced innumerable possibilities. Over the course of a year, the PNC was introduced to 121 candidates! In midsummer of 1988, the PNC settled on a candidate, but he rejected us when his salary demands exceeded our budget capabilities. We had to go back to the drawing boards. When we sought additional resumes, one of the resumes we received was from the pastor of the Ludlow church in our own Presbytery. The committee heard him preach five different sermons, met with him twice, and received favorable references for him. He was our man, and the congregation approved his call on January 8th, 1989. The Rev. James E. Bernard became Calvin’s pastor on March 1st, 1989.

    Rev. James Bernard



 Rev. Bernard & Congregation

It was a time of high expectations and also a time of adjustment.  New pastorates always are.  The church had been through seven years of a roller coaster ride that saw the exit of a popular pastor, the conflict of an unhappy pastor-church relationship, and a slow and long healing process under the tutelage of an interim minister.  Pastor Bernard had to adjust from planning entire worship services to working with liturgy teams and producing sermon outlines ahead of time from the lectionary.  He also adjusted his administrative style to one that enabled laypeople to carry out some of the tasks he had done in the past.  The transition period was smoother than expected, and by the end of 1989, it was clear that the fit between pastor and congregation was a good one.  Otherwise, 1989 was also a good year.  We gained 8 members for a year-end total of 182. The Senior High Youth Group was led by Harry and Penny Fry and Kathy and Don Grever.  We also mourned the loss of Thelma Brenner and Helen “Grandma” Burnes.


After the tumultuous eighties, what Calvin needed was a period of leadership and pastoral stability, and Jim Bernard was able to provide that. Within the framework of overall stability, there were a number of changes that were occurring. In 1990, our church building heating was converted from oil to natural gas, and wonderful air conditioning for the sanctuary made summer worship a delight. Perhaps that is one reason why weekly average attendance increased by a significant 14, while membership increased by 5 to 187. Todd Houston became the Sunday school superintendent, and Bob Bridges chaired committees to review the new Presbyterian Hymnal, and also the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. 1991 saw Session reorganized to six working committees and 12 members (up from 9). Kim Meyerrenke became the Music/Liturgy Coordinator. We sold 3.4 acres of our church property for $30,000 and resurfaced our parking lot. We also sold house pins to support Saul’s Homeless Shelter and presented them with a $1,000 check. We mourned the death of Lew Colvin.



Was there ever a time that Jane Wiseman was not choir director? Well, yes there was, but it was so long ago that few can remember. After a beautiful and excellent run of thirty-two years, Jane retired. She was succeeded by a daughter of the church, D. Marie Campbell (now Pierce), who has quite a run of her own as she is currently in her fifteenth year. In other musical news, Kay Horning took a six month leave of absence from accompanist and Rozanne Wetzel filled in ably. Nine evangelical teams took Calvin literature and brochures door to door in the neighborhood. Bill Horning was commissioner to Presbytery. Calvin started its Neighbor-to-Neighbor program and the church supported the Tegge family mission to China. Pastor Jim taught a special advent study called Incarnation, and we mourned the passing of Wilbur Harting, Mildred Riddle and Christine Moeller. Membership was 178. The following year, 1993, saw 29 liturgy teams planning our worship services. We enjoyed the acquisition of 150 new 1992 Presbyterian hymnals, and supported Ken and Christine Wood-Henderson in Kazakhstan. Our membership was 176.


1994 through 1998 were years where our efforts to evangelize paid off in membership growth. 1994 saw an increase of 8 members to 184. 1995 increased by 7 to 191. 1996 saw us grow by 7 more, and by the end of 1998, we had finally crept over the 200 mark with a membership of 201. Praise the Lord! Those were busy and productive years. Kate Williams spearheaded the start of the TACK program for kids in 1994. That same year we initiated First Fruits Sunday, a success to this day. We continued our support of the Hendersons in China and worked with Habitat for Humanity. Sadly we mourned the death of Woody Conrad, Al Ellis and Herman Davidson. 1995 saw the acquisition of a new Rogers organ to enhance our worship. Mary Smith and Janett Stamler were producing the Calvin Caller, and a new church directory was published. We lost our dear friend, Pat Rumke. In 1996, our Calvin Choir participated in the IPM Music with a Mission event and with the help of our loyal supporters, raised the most money per choir member in the competition. Rebecca-Ruth Circle bought new Bibles for the Adult Sunday school class. Under the leadership of Steve Van Eman and Cyndi Skull, each person at the Thanksgiving stewardship dinner and worship service was given a $10 bill and asked to invest it for the Lord. That $1,200 investment grew to more than $3,000 by year-end. We lost Ed Glover that year. In addition to reaching 201 members in 1997, we supported a child through the Christian Children’s Fund, Greg Moore reorganized the library, Vacation Bible School contributed over 200 cans of food to the SEM Food Pantry, Ruth/Rebecca Circle gave a birthday party for SEM Manor residents, and the Taste of Calvin cookbook was published. Old Man River rose far beyond its banks, and we spent time helping and supporting the flood victims in New Richmond, including Cranston Memorial Church.


Mary's House

The estate of Mary Zapf left us a sum of money in 1998, and rather than spend it on ourselves, we wanted to share it with others. What a marvelous sharing it was! The church negotiated with Clermont County Habitat for Humanity and we agreed to fund and build a house in New Richmond for the Tina Collins family. The church mobilized and many workers from Calvin contributed their brawn and brains to construct that house. We were the first church in Clermont County and the first church in the Presbytery to fund a Habitat home. It was a great experience for us and a great way to do hands-on mission. The other blockbuster event in 1998 was the Lay Renewal Week, October 15-18. A team of Presbyterians conducted a number of group events that prompted us to examine our commitment and our efforts toward the church and its programs.  We mourned the death of our friends Paul Barbro, Wally Brenner, Lillian Davidson, and Don Castle.


1999 was the year we paid off the church mortgage, two years early I might add.  It enabled us to devote more resources to mission and we eagerly did that.  We even bought a bobcat for the Clermont Habitat for Humanity.  Average worship attendance grew to 142 and the choir received new choir robes.  One of the highlights of the year was the installation of our own Ralph Campbell as Moderator of Presbytery, which met in our sanctuary for the installation.  Another one of our own, Matthew Long, began Commissioned Lay Pastor’s School.  Long-time church treasurer, Chris Goetz, took a well-deserved rest and was replaced by Ellen Steiner. 

First Stained Glass Window

NO SMOKING signs went up in the church, and our first stained glass window was installed.  We continued our special evangelization efforts by distributing 1,400 packets (including the Jesus tape) to area homes.  We were down to 190 members, but eager to say hello to the 21st century and bid goodbye to the 20th century.

"Face of God

Genesis 1:  1-2


On to The Turbulent Two Thousands

Back to The Ambivalent Eighties




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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