Source: Sherman Publications

Celebrating the past and next 50 years

by Phil Custodio

October 19, 2011

Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church's 50th anniversary activities culminates in a special Celebration Worship Event, 12 p.m., Nov. 13, at Clarkston Junior High School, 6595 Middle Lake Road.

"It will be a blow out celebration," said the Rev. Jonathan Heierman, pastor of the church.

The church celebrated the half-century mark with events throughout the year, including services with previous senior pastor, benefit concert with flutist Alexander Zonjic, and other events.

The church's Kids Against Hunger service project, Sept. 24, was very successful, Heierman said.

The usual goal is 15,000 meals, but I said since this is our 50th anniversary, we should have a goal of 50,000 meals – that's a lot," he said. "We packed 51,000 meals."

About 250 volunteers helped pack meals, which go to local families in need through Lighthouse, as well as to Kenya and Haiti.

Commemorating the anniversary, the church's annual fall spiritual growth journey is 50 days, instead of the usual 40. The theme was "blessed to be a blessing," he said.

It's based on Genesis 12, where God calls on Abraham and Sarah to be a blessing to others.

"Blessings come to us so we can pass blessings on to others," Heierman said.

The church's first worship service was Sept. 18, 1960, in the Kindergarten room at Clarkston Elementary School. The congregation was formally organized on Jan. 22, 1961.

The church building on Bluegrass Drive was built in 1962, with buildings added on until 1999.

"We continue the history of strong youth and children’s programs to make this a better place for all generations and pass on our faith to the kids," said Heierman, pastor for the past 13 years.

It's not just a year of nostalgia, he said.

"We acknowledge the past but the key is looking ahead and setting the stage for the next 50 years," he said. "The best years for the congregation are in the future."

They've added contemporary worship, video screens, praise choir, and programs for the community while maintaining their traditions. Three years ago, the church also added a second site in White Lake.

"The opportunity presented itself and there was a sense of calling to community," he said. "It was very exciting to expand. I wish we had more room to develop here, but we like being in the heart of downtown."