Sunday, June 29, 2003

June 29, 2003

Groundbreaking Sunday has arrived!

4:22 PM The service is over, the picnic is done, and we are back home again. A great day in every respect. I was told that the attendance was almost 1500, our largest-ever summer attendance. We used every chair we had and the big tent was packed to overflowing. Baptism was a great success even though the technical aspects had me baptizing in a galvanized metal tank, standing outside the tank, baptizing people as they sat on a cinder block. Much cheering as 12 people were baptized, including Jonathan and Stephanie Kirschner. Other highlights: the large children’s choir, Craig Hammond interviewing Rachel Glancy (a high school student who accepted Christ not long ago), watching the children bring their offerings to the front of the church, the men’s ensemble singing, “Find Us Faithful,” the cornerstone from the 1921 church building, perfect weather, singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” having the whole congregation together for worship, enjoying the rich diversity of our congregation.

I think the star of the day was Cliff Raad. He was one of five people who “volunteered” to help me on the platform. Cliff forgot his one line, “God is great,” and the place went up for grabs. It was beautfiul—and totally unscripted.

Special thanks to the Oak Park Police Department for their help. All the little details seemed to come together. A nice breeze kept things cool in the tent. And best of all, the Holy Spirit gave us a wonderful sense of unity and celebration all day long. I wish we could have one service for the whole congregation every Sunday—and I would love to meet under a tent again. We will post the final offering total on the Calvary website tomorrow AM. Also, the entire service will be avaiable for viewing on the website by Tuesday evening.

10:08 AM Children’s choir practicing on the platform, large, noisy crowd in the tent, more people arriving all the time, police directing traffic on Lake Street, baptismal candidates in robes, lined up by the platform. One man just asked me, “Are we having a lobster fest today? It feels like it’s 90 degrees in here.” The temp outside is 77 so it’s going to be warm under the tent—even with the side flaps open. Tent services are great fun, esp when we can have the whole congregation together instead of having four separate services. We get started in about 20 minutes.

9:16 AM Choir now practicing, musicians warming up, ushers, greeters and security setting up, baptistry filled and actually quite warm, lots of excitement. Several people have brought buckets and cans filled with change for the offering. Hospitality tent set up. Temp: 73 degrees, patchy clouds.

8:01 AM Sound crew setting up, baptistry half full, cornerstone inside tent, musicians beginning to arrive. Temp: 70 degrees.

7:01 AM The night crew (Rick Todd, Phil Newburg, Nick Pritchard, John Mark Edwards, Tolee Chang) has just left… . John Sredl is filling the portable baptistry … A few clouds, no rain … Preparations continue.

5:52 AM It looks like we may have a few clouds this AM but otherwise, it’s going to be a beautiful day in Oak Park. Within the hour, the first teams will arrive to begin the final preparations for the service at 10:30 AM. We’ll start filling the portable baptistry about 7:30 AM. The ushers are ready, the greeters are ready, the picnic planners are ready, the musicians and worship leaders are ready, the tent is in place, the platform is up, over 1000 chairs are set up with another 200 in reserve. We’re as ready as we can be. It’s going to be a wonderful day. My sermon this morning comes from Psalm 145:4, “One generation shall praise Your works to another,and shall declare Your mighty acts” (NKJV). If I can find enough strong men to help me, we are going to set up the concrete cornerstone from our first church building on Madison Street in 1921 to remind us of God’s faithfulness across the generations.

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