Sunday, March 14, 2004

March 14, 2004

6:15 AM Welcome to Open House Sunday at Calvary. In my sermon today, I’m quoting part of the letter Bruce Lavenau wrote that was placed in the cornerstone when it was sealed on November 11, 2003. Here is the complete text of that letter: November 11, 2003 To: Future Generations From: Pastors and Elders of Calvary Memorial Church As representatives of Calvary Memorial Church, we express our love and affection to you who follow after us. We thank the Lord for His multitude of blessings. We share the thoughts of the psalmist: “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations” (Psalm 145:13 KJV). There is a day coming when we will all – past, present, and future – be united with Him. Until then, we pray that you will continue to proclaim faithfully the “Good News” of salvation through Jesus Christ and Him alone. We pray that this will be done both here in Oak Park and around the world. For many years, the building on Madison Street featured the following verse behind the pulpit: “That in all things He might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18b KJV). It is our prayer that this will always be the case. For its first five years, the church met in a storefront on Madison Street. In 1920, a building was erected at the corner of Madison and Wisconsin. This building went through a number of expansions over the years. In July 1977, a fire rendered the building unusable. The current site on Lake Street was initially rented and finally by the Lord’s grace purchased in 1979, with two mortgages for $1.5 million. The Lord has blessed, and we presently have four Sunday services frequently reaching a total of 1,400 people and Sunday School of around 750. Because of crowding, we are in the midst of an extensive remodeling program that will make the facility more usable for the present. This box and cornerstone were rescued from the Madison Street building after the fire of 1977. The box contained a Scofield Reference Bible, some carvings for ink stamps, church letterhead, and a newspaper clipping about the original building. We have added the following items to give you some perspective of the church since then: 1) An Anchor for the Soul. This is the most popular book written by our senior pastor, Ray Pritchard. It was distributed in New York City shortly after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. Several hundred thousand copies were also sent to prison inmates across America. 2) A church history booklet. Written for the church’s 75th anniversary, this booklet outlines many of the key events until 1990. 3) Statement of Faith. We are grateful to God for keeping us faithful to the truth during our history. The doctrinal foundation of Calvary has remained constant since 1915. 4) Sample bulletins. These bulletins give an overview of church life in 2003. On the back page you will see a listing of the staff, elders and deacons, and missionaries. 5) Legacy brochure. This pamphlet gives an overview of the renovation project now underway. 6) Sermon tape. Each week we recorded the sermons on an audio cassette tape. We expect our technology will seem quite antiquated by the time you read this! Other significant items in the history of the church included Dr. Harry Ironside speaking at the 25th anniversary in 1940, participation in two Greater Chicagoland Billy Graham Crusades in 1962 and 1970, and an ongoing rapport with local Christian schools, including Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The church has been through two world wars, the Great Depression, and conflicts in Korea, Viet Nam, and the Persian Gulf. It began during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson and continues today as George W. Bush prepares to seek a second term. Terms such as League of Nations, United Nations, atomic bomb, cold war, rock and roll, the pill, Watergate, civil rights, space exploration, secular humanism, school prayer, election reform, talk radio, gay rights, free choice, right to life, women’s liberation, and born-again have been or still are phrases that evoke controversial reactions. There have been many societal changes: voting rights for women, the modernist-fundamentalist controversies, increased material prosperity, decline in both sexual morality and the two-parent family. Medical advances include organ transplants and new pharmaceuticals that have extended life expectancies. Yet drug abuse and new diseases such as AIDS cloud the picture. Childbirth has never been safer, yet abortion clinics have killed millions. Technologies including radio, television, cell phones, and computers, along with automobiles and airplanes have created a society very different from that which existed when our church began. Currently, we are in a war in Iraq, seeking to combat terrorism. Our nation is still feeling the effects of the 9/11 World Trade Towers disaster. On a lighter note, certain things do remain constant, such as the fact that neither Chicago baseball team has won a World Series since our church was founded. Maybe that will have changed by the time you read this. Dr. Lloyd Perry of Trinity Seminary was interim pastor in the middle 1970s between Pastors Gray and Gerig. He would often conclude with the following benediction. It was true then, it is true today, and we know it will be true whenever this box is opened: May a dying Savior’s love, a risen Savior’s power, an ascended Savior’s prayer, and a coming Savior’s glory be the abundant portion of all those who have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. May the peace of God be our portion; may the God of peace be our partner both now and until we meet again.

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