THE HISTORY OF CALVARY LUTHERAN CHURCH Two Rivers, WI 54241
The first services were arranged by Rev. Dwight H. Shelhart. After some consideration he organized the first worship service for the United Lutheran Church in America to be held on October 3 at the JE Hamilton Community House. 110 persons were in attendance. The furniture used in the portable church environment was built by Mr. Henry Greenwood. The church choir as well as Sunday School was organized during the week of February 6, 1944. The first pastor of Calvary, Rev. Edward Blenker, was installed on July 8, 1944. By September the Women’s Guild of Calvary Church was brought into existence. April 6, 1945 marked the first meeting of The Brotherhood of Calvary Church. July 1, 1945 marked the purchase date for the W.G. Ahearn property at 20th and Adams Streets as the site for the new church. The adjoining residence at 1519 was also purchased as a parsonage. As the congregation grew we were extended an invitation to meet at the local Elk’s Club building at 1415 16th Street. The first service there was on February 2, 1947.
On July 1, 1947 Pastor Blenker accepted another call to Illinois and on October 26, 1947 Rev. Wylock JE Scott was called to be the new pastor. In the following year, 1948, the role of Calvary was expanded to include the youth. On August 6, 1949 saw the contract for construction of Calvary Lutheran Church’s chapel unit. By October 16 the cornerstone was laid with Rev. Shelhart presiding. The Bells were donated by the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad for use in the tower of the chapel. Although the construction was incomplete, the congregation was able to hold its first Christmas Eve service that same year. From August 14-18, 1949 Vacation Bible School operated in the basement of the new church building. Youngsters were invited to join in the activities whether they belonged to Calvary or not. This continues even today.
Calvary Lutheran Church was dedicated on August 27, 1950. Rev Paul E. Bishop officiated the event. Pastor Scott left Calvary on April 22, 1951 and was replaced by Pastor Frederick Marks,a recent graduate from Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary. Pastor Marks was installed on July 29, 1951. The Luther Room received its name in April 1953 and was designated for educational and social purposes. By the 10th annual congregational meeting, plans were approved for the installation of stained glass windows in the nave of the church. A committee was also authorized to lay plans to secure electronic bells for the church tower. It was during Pastor Marks administration that the parsonage was rebuilt making it a more modern and comfortable home. Pastor Marks and his family left Two Rivers on April 14, 1956 and took a call to Holy Cross Church in Menominee Falls, WI.
Pastor Carl Ipsen was then installed on June 24, 1956. Pastor Ipsen served until March 5, 1961. The next pastor was installed on June 18, 1961. Pastor Marvin Oechler served until January 4, 1966. During Pastor Oechler’s term with Calvary a decision to erect a two story educational unit adjoining the chapel unit was reaffirmed. At that same time a new kitchen was also installed in the basement of the chapel unit. By September 1962, the new education unit was dedicated. On February 27, 1966 Rev. Paul Funk from Grace Church in Casper, Wyoming began his leadership duties to Calvary Lutheran. Rev. Funk resigned on July 15, 1969 to accept a call in Sheboygan. Pastor Ralph Bachman was installed August 3, 1969. During his term the church library was reopened on September 9, 1974. 1974 also marked the celebration of the silver anniversary of Pastor Clarence Schnoor, the only member of Calvary to enter the ministry to date. On November 14, 1976 Pastor Bechman resigned. He was replaced by Pastor Richard Bidwell who was installed on June 12, 1977.
November 8, 1978 was a special date. The final payment of the church indebtedness was made. For the first time since the property was purchased Calvary was debt free. November 1, 1980 Pastor Bidwell resigned. Rev. Robert Sullivan accepted our call and was installed on January 11, 1981. He left Calvary in October of 1997 after many years of service to Calvary. December 11, 1984 a new organ was purchased.
January 13, 1991 the new narthex cornerstone was laid. In addition plans were made for an outdoor meditation area on the eastern wing of the education unit. Through memorial funds and donations this area has continued to develop. During this same year of 1991 a digital piano was added to the Church. It has since enhanced the music at our services.
In February 2002 Pastor Kay Richter accepted the call to be the new pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church. She continues to serve our community.
In 2004, the need for a building renovation was recognized and a plan for changes to the building was accepted. The addition of a gathering space and elevator was completed in 2005. Calvary looks forward to beginning phase 2 of the project, which includes an enlargement of the sanctuary (worship space). We eagerly look forward to finishing this project with the help of all who call Calvary Lutheran Church their home.
Fast forward to 2016….In February, Pastor Kay received and accepted the call to serve in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In April, Pastor Lisa Ubbelohde became our Interim Pastor. Also in April, in preparation for a move across the country to the state of Oregon, Nancy Hoover, our Administrative Assistant resigned her duties. Replacing Nancy and serving as Church Secretary for Calvary Lutheran Church is Betsy Dow. Pastor Julie took over Pastoral Duties.
As of 2020 Teri Wagner was the church secretary and she retired and the position was taken over by Jennifer Loos. In October 2021 Pastor Julie Barger transferred up north to Tomahawk, WI to be closer to her family. Our amazing lay leaders have helped lead worship while Vicar Melissa was able to help us continue with communion based worships in between weeks. She will be heading to Green Bay to finish her internship at the end of May 2022. Thank you Melissa!
Starting in November 2022 we have been graced with a new pastor! Pastor Heather Yerion-Keck will take over for both us here at Calvary and our sister church St. Paul in Manitowoc. We welcome her and her wife to our humble church and look forward to what comes next!