by Rev. Kris Moore, Calvin Presbyterian Church
Dear Beloved Community,
I have recently discovered how important the churches in the Presbytery of Cincinnati were to the founding of Calvin Presbyterian Church. I write to express our gratitude, to remind us all of how interconnected we are, and to encourage you to learn more about your church’s early years.
Mark Williams, an elder at Calvin Presbyterian church, was an infant in 1955 when David Krehbiel knocked on the door of his parents’ home. Would the William’s family be interested in joining others in the area hoping to start a new church? Mr. Krehbiel had been hired by Knox Presbyterian Church to spend ten weeks, working full time from June 20 to August 28, to ascertain the viability of starting a Presbyterian congregation in the then rapidly developing Amelia-Withamsville area of Clermont County.
Although not formally organized, a small group of believers had begun conducting services on May 15, 1955. A six-acre lot across the street from a cornfield had been donated and was being “held” for the hoped-for church and a manse.
In time the Presbytery endorsed the new congregation. When Service of Organization was held on September 22, 1957, the William’s family joined others from the area as Calvin’s charter members.
A building fund drive was also underway. Per Presbytery’s records, in addition to the Presbyterian National Mission Agency, the following Cincinnati Presbytery churches pledged funds to help build a church home for Calvin:
Calvin Presbyterian Church again says, “thank you” to all these churches for your investment in building Calvin’s sanctuary, your belief that God can and does do new things, and for being a beloved community to us when we were in our infancy.
My document scavenger hunt, which unearthed this information, began when Calvin decided this will be our last year. It was my desire to weave the past with the present as we remember, grieve, and celebrate what Calvin has been and is now. We have periodically dipped deep into the well of Calvin’s history in the past months. It has been interesting, memory-nudging, and at times disheartening. Most of all, it has been deeply affirming.
Later this year Calvin’s session will act on the congregation’s prayerful request and ask the Presbytery to permit us to dissolve the congregation in the summer of 2023. Upon discovering document listing the building fund contributors, I was struck by how many of them no longer exist. It was a reminder we are not the first to journey down this path.
Through this process I have learned is this and want to pass it on to you:
Learn about your congregation’s beginnings. Humans, by their nature, are creatures wired for story and respond to physical, concrete, tangible evidence. So, find the documents, pictures and stories, and share them with your congregation. Celebrate your roots and beginnings. There are times throughout the year when doing so is timely – All Saint’s Day, your church’s anniversary, Reformation Day. Perhaps even Pentecost.
Those who founded our congregations were vanguards. They were visionaries with deep faith, believers with steadfast commitment, and courageous leaders often living seemingly ordinary lives. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they did the extraordinary: they envisioned, established and built your church.
In these days of rapid change, when the protestant church’s future is uncertain, we need to tell their stories: how they publicly professed their faith, spoke out on matters of social concern over the years, and embraced the gospel vision to make disciples. You may find that spark of inspiration you have been seeking is hidden in your own church’s records, whether at your church or at the Presbytery, or maybe even both. Take a look and see what you find.
Blessings to you all.