Bismarck Calvary United Methodist
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
A United Methodist Congregation




The sermons for January & February 2019 will be: 

Sermon Guide for January & February, 2019


Message Title


December 24 – Christmas Eve

Children’s Program & Candlelight Service


December 30

“The Forgotten Word of Christmas”

Luke 2


January 6

“What Wise Men Do”

Matthew 2

January 13



Luke 3

January 20

“The Challenge of New Horizon’s: The State of the Church”

Joshua 1

January 27

Special Speaker – Bishop Bruce Ough


February 3 - Communion

“Excited by our Faith”

John 1

February 10

“God Sometimes Changes His Mind”

Jonah 3

February 17

“How’s Your Faith”

1 Thessalonians 3

February 24

“Our Veil”

2 Corinthians 3 & 4 





















     We continue to forge ahead with initiating some of the prescriptions that we were offered:

     First, Strategic Outreach.  Our next outreach will be Christmas Eve as we invite the community to our Children’s program and Candlelight service at 5:00pm.  This will be followed up with our “Walk with Jesus” to be held just prior to Easter. We have reached out to Rita Murphy elementary school in our neighborhood and we are praying for the school and its staff and teachers, etc on a weekly basis as well as doing prayer walks around the school property.

     Second, maximizing ministry with children and families. Wednesday Worship and AWANA has gone well and we are contemplating what we can do to make this even better during the Lenten season. Be in prayer as to what we should do. Pray for our youth and our cohort team as they train and plan how to involve our youth in the Lord’s work.

     Third, the extended greeting time in the worship service is working well, every one of us also have many God moments in our life that others could benefit from hearing, we need to share them more freely during worship.  To have greater impact our prayer team needs to grow, is God calling you to pray for Calvary, it will be more effective if we do it more collectively. We have been encouraging the congregation to be a part of stewarding all our gifts for the Lord, whether that be our time, our talents and particularly our financial stewardship leading to all of us tithing to the Lord. In this regard let me share the following article from the Conference office:

Electronic giving increases offerings

     “We have families give exclusively online,” says Rev. Mark Tracy, who serves Clark United Methodist Church. “It is the way folks will give, more and more, in the future.”

     Clark United Methodist Church in South Dakota is utilizing Vanco payment solutions for people to give electronically. Tracy says, “We have pew cards that folks can use to donate from their phones.”

     The congregation investigated electronic giving solutions and did not hesitate. They “just pulled the trigger,” Tracy said. They did not face any challenges.

     Fewer people today are using cash and checks for their financial transactions. As a result, churches have an opportunity to expand their giving opportunities. This is not about credit-card giving which could lead members into debt. Many companies offer “debit only” giving that eliminates this worry and presents a chance to overcome giving obstacles.

     Darby Jones, writing for United Methodist Communications, outlines several reasons churches should offer online giving options. Here are few reasons:

1.      Giving is a biblical mandate. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means giving of one’s self faithfully and regularly. Churches need to support a variety of ways to let this happen. Don’t be surprised if you go to a church in a developing country and find a chicken, goat or cow given as an offering. Whether it is eggs in a basket, cash in a plate or electronic funds transfer, it’s all faithfulness in God’s eyes.

2.      Checks are becoming outdated. Some people don’t even carry checkbooks, and cash in the offering plate is no longer tax-deductible without documentation. Do not limit people’s options when technology grants so many other options such as debit cards and Smartphone apps to transfer funds. Some churches give electronic givers a card to put in the offering plate that says they gave online, or invite them to put an empty envelope in the plate so there’s no discomfort or perception that they didn’t participate.

3.      Some church attendees don’t attend worship. Think about all the people serving in the nursery or who choose only to attend a Sunday school class. Again, you lose their contributions when you limit their options.




We continue to forge ahead with initiating some of the prescriptions that we were offered:

     First, Strategic Outreach. With the success of the neighborhood “Block party/Car Show” we will be hosting another community outreach on October 31 with a “Light up Your Night for Jesus/Trunk and Treat” activity from 6:00-8:00pm in our church parking lot and church building. Signee’s from the block party will be invited as well as invitation being handed out and mailed in the neighborhood. Please join us for the fun. We have also reached out to Rita Murphy elementary school in our neighborhood in order to start a relationship with them. Our first meeting went well and we are praying for the school and its staff and teachers, etc on a weekly basis as well as doing prayer walks around the school property.  We have also reached out with an idea of how we might assist the children and families and are just awaiting a response from the principal.

     Second, maximizing ministry with children and families. Wednesday Worship and AWANA has gone well with a number of new students and the worship format is encouraging parents to stay and join in the worship for the first half hour.

     Third, we have been calling everyone to be part of the process as extended greeting time in the worship service is working well, God moments during worship have truly been inspiring, prayer cards have been coming in, people have come to the front of the sanctuary for prayer following the service, prayers are being added to the white board in the “War Room” and the Prayer Team has even been getting text requests. God is truly at work.

     We also have a men’s Sunday school class going and Youth Cohort training is continuing with many wonderful new ideas as to how to assist the Sunday school and other activities of the church work better.  We also will be encouraging the congregation to be a part of stewarding all our gifts for the Lord, whether that be our time, our talents and particularly our financial stewardship leading to all of us tithing it all to the Lord.

     We will continue to forge ahead with the Holy Spirit direction.



     We welcomed a new Administrative Assistant to the church office the beginning of October. Lois Backman is our new Administrative Assistant. Please welcome her and stop in to greet her and match a face to the voice you will hear on the telephone.


Thank You!

     A big thank you also goes out to all those who have made donations to the décor of Calvary United Methodist Church over the last two years.  We are so grateful for the new and fresh appearance of our church.  We received many compliments from the Journey Renewal Consultation team about the décor of our church.  It should also be noted that at least 80% to 90% of the new décor has been donated – and we are all so grateful to those who have been so generous. Thank you!






     On May 20, the Dakotas Conference Journey Renewal Partnership Team met with the leadership of our church.  They said, “Our prayer is that God will use this process to focus and maximize the potential of your congregation for fruitfulness for Christ.  We pray this will be a Pentecost moment in the history of this congregation and that the good things about Calvary UMC will become a spring board for the GREAT things God wants to do in and through this congregation.”  After sharing five strengths and five challenges for our congregation, the following prescriptions were shared:


1.    Maximizing Ministry with Children and Families

Throughout the weekend, people at Calvary spoke of their dream of seeing more children and families begin to call Calvary their church home and have opportunities to grow as followers of Jesus. In order to make this a reality, the following steps will be taken: 

       A task force will be formed to do a comprehensive evaluation of Wednesday programming to determine ways in which its impact can be maximized.  This will include exploring options such as:

§  Engaging in new ways of promoting the program in the neighborhood.

§  Providing special times when kids are encouraged and equipped to invite friends.

§  Offering a small group or relationship-building option for parents of children with a focus on topics such as parenting, finances, marriage, etc.

§  Creating a new worship experience that appeals to children, youth and young families.  

    Each church member will be asked to pray for how God is calling them as individuals to support the ministries with children—to be spiritual “parents and grandparents.” This will include things such as:

§  Volunteering to serve in Sunday School or at Awana.

§  Helping with the set-up/preparation so those working with the kids can focus their energies on the children.

§  Writing notes of encouragement to young parents or church members who volunteer with kids to let them know they are appreciated and prayed for.

§  Knitting/crocheting prayer squares for kids.

§  Making cookies or other goodies for Sunday school/Awana/kids events.

§  Serving at special events so kids witness the tangible love of Christ through people of all ages.   

As this team gets clarity on how to maximize the impact of the church’s ministries with children, they will also explore how they can help youth stay engaged in discipleship and in the life of the church. This may start with things such as regularly involving them in worship leadership, integrating them into the leadership of kid’s ministries, creating opportunities or spaces for them to connect with each other and other UMC youth, and intentionally seeking THEIR perspectives on faith, discipleship and how the church can best support them and other youth on their journey.



2.    Strategic Outreach

In order to reach new people with the Good News of Jesus Christ, as well as make the best use of resources, a team will be formed to develop a strategic plan for neighborhood/community outreach. Guided by a coach, this team will identify task groups for the purpose of:  

  Mission Field Research

§  This group will focus on developing a close relationship with teachers and administration at Rita Murphy Elementary school to determine how Calvary UMC can BE Good News to the children and staff of the school. They will also reach out to the leadership at the Coca-Cola plant to better understand the needs of their workers and discover how the church might be in ministry with them. 


§  Streamlined and strategic event planning Based on the mission field research as well as key MissionInsite data (eg 33% of parents in a one-mile radius are single parents), the team will determine what events might be most strategic and in alignment with their volunteer capacity and missional goals.  Examples of events might include: a parent’s day/night out babysitting event; a VBS-like activity day on a school holiday when parents have to work; a parenting class; a neighborhood “block party” held at the city park next to the church; a grandparent/grandkid sock hop, etc. These events will include excellent marketing and promotion, clear “hand-offs” for further connection and involvement, and structured follow-up for invitation. (This team will be provided with Triad training a concept of planning events in a way that “bridge” to the next event, moving people into closer relationship with the church each time they attend.)


3.    Stewarding our Gifts

Throughout the weekend, we heard a concern that there were not enough volunteers to accomplish the vision for ministry that people have.  Therefore, in order to most effectively steward the resources—human and otherwise—at Calvary, a leadership coach will work with Pastor Perry and church leadership to evaluate church administrative systems and practices to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness. This will include things such as looking at how and when meetings are planned, how discipleship is integrated into meetings to keep leadership focused on the “Why,” and what functions can be streamlined in order to make the best use of limited time resources. This recommendation will focus on how youth and young adults can be mentored and empowered in leadership and service that best fits their gifts and capacity. Additionally, it will explore how leaders who have served faithfully can be

given permission to discern God’s next calling to service and equipped to do so.  Finally, in order to address financial concerns, a coach will work with Pastor Perry and church leadership to implement best practices in financial stewardship development and financial management and investment for future sustainability and impact.


4.    United in Christ

Finally, because people dreamed of overcoming a sense of negativity with a feeling of being united in Christ and in mission and ministry to the Bismarck area, the following steps will be taken to create this culture:


  “You Belong Here”—The congregation will be trained and equipped to give intentional attention to becoming as prepared as possible to make every person who walks through our doors feel welcomed—promote the feeling we are glad they are here. This will include thinking through all aspects of the Sunday morning/Wednesday evening experiences and how everything from signage to greeting to an invitation “to join us again” can make a person feel like there is a place for them.  




§  Celebration and Appreciation—Because “we replicate what we celebrate,” an intentional focus will be placed on giving thanks to God as well as thanking others for allowing God to work through them. People will be encouraged to share or submit “Yay God” moments — stories of where they are seeing God at work and who they see God working through.  They will also be encouraged and equipped to express thanks to others who have blessed them or who they see making a difference. “Two-Minute God Stories” will be integrated into worship as well as children’s ministry, so young and old alike will be reminded of our “Why” and the importance of sharing what we have found in Christ and in a church home. 

§  Fueling Momentum—Breakthrough Prayer asks God to break through into the church in powerful new ways, thus revealing God’s preferred reality.  However, prayer doesn’t just act as a catalyst.  It also acts as a firm, rooted foundation for a Holy Spirit movement.  Any powerful God movement is bound to have spiritual pushback and a foundation of prayer anchors us in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to do more than we could ask or imagine.  In order to continue to fuel the God movements in and through the church, Breakthrough Prayer and prayer walking will continue at the start of each meeting/gathering with a special focus on praying for ministry to and with young families and the neighborhood. Breakthrough Prayer will also be utilized in ministry with children and will be the launching off point for planning any outreach or ministry.

     On July 1 we passed these prescriptions with a 70% margin and so the Dakotas Conference will continue to help us with coaching to attain a new life cycle at Calvary.





     Calvary United Methodist Church has both a long and short history involving two congregations, three denominations, two languages, and a hospital.

     The long history dates back to 1881 when an itinerant minister for the Evangelical Church, Rev. R.W. Teichman, held preaching services in the Bismarck-Mandan area.  Rev. F.W. Tesch was assigned to the Mission in 1883, followed by R.W. Teichman in 1885 and Rev. G.F. Liening in 1888.  In 1889, no pastor was assigned until Rev. W.C. Menges in 1906.  In 1907, the Swedish Lutheran Church on the corner of 7th St. & Rosser Ave was purchased and was called First Evangelical Church.  This location fostered a close relationship of cooperation with Quain & Ramstad Clinic that dates back to this time.  In 1907, the Evangelical Churches of North and South Dakota began construction of the first unit of “The Bismarck Hospital and Deaconess Home of the Dakota Conference of the Evangelical Church”.  This association gave the church a real sense of prestige in the community. 

     In 1911, a two-story parsonage was built on the rear of the church property facing Rosser Avenue.

     Services were held in both English and German, and, at times in different locations.  This first building was moved across the street and a new Neo-Gothic style architecture brick church with many stained glass windows was built on the spot in 1914 (we still have the cornerstone in our back room and the stained glass).  With the merger of the Evangelical Church and the United Brethren Church in 1946, the named was changed to First Evangelical United Brethren Church.  In 1949, the parsonage was sold and moved off the property in anticipation of adding on to the church and a new parsonage was purchased at 414 7th St.  The Church building not only became too small but it was found that it was structurally impossible to make the changes that were desired and so a new church was built on the corner of 11th St and Avenue F (924 N 11th St.) during 1955.

     For a time, the church at 7th & Rosser was rented to a Congregational/United Church of Christ Church.  This was followed by talk of Labor Unions interested in purchasing the building and putting a bar in the basement, plus an undertaker was also interested in the building.

     In the fall of 1958, the feeling arose that there was a need to re-open the church at 7th & Rosser to minister to the people in the downtown area and people in the area presented a petition of 60 signatures to the Conference asking to start a second church.

     The first service of this mission church (Second Evangelical United Brethren Church) was held on December 7, 1958, with Rev. Robert H. Strutz as supply pastor.  The congregation was officially organized on June 14, 1959, and changed the name a year later to Calvary Evangelical United Brethren Church.  The Church building was purchased from First Church for $25,000 (mortgage was paid in full in April of 1963). 

     Rev. Robert H. Strutz was appointed to serve the church along with Mandan in 1959.  Forty-one charter members began the church in 1959.  Just one remains a member at this time (Frieda Roth).  The merger of the EUB & Methodist Episcopal Church in 1968 brought another name change of Calvary United Methodist Church.  Calvary experienced slow growth through the 60’s.  A women’s missionary society, later known as the United Methodist Women, was organized in 1962 as well as a Youth Fellowship in 1963. 

     A complete redecorating of the church sanctuary was accomplished in 1971 to enhance its beauty and highlight the stained glass windows.

     A more moderate growth of the church took place in the late 60’s through the 70’s into the early 80’s with 232 new members being brought into the church with a tremendous 60 professions of faith in 1982.  This growth in membership and a realization that the church building was beginning to need some major repairs prompted the need for a new church building.  The District Building committee recommended property on south 12th Street. However, that meant taking over the “Open Door” ministry and the church decided against that kind of commitment.  I am told that the present JC Park property at the corner of Century Avenue and Fourth Street was also considered, but instead almost an acre of land was purchased at 609 N 34th St. for $62,500 on June 1, 1981 because it was close to an influential church member.  Ground was broken with members pulling the plow in June of 1982 and a new $300,000 church building begun.  The old church was sold to Bismarck Hospital (Med Center One/Sanford Health) and an auction sold some of the furniture, fixtures, etc. to help benefit the building fund and it was then demolished with the stained glass windows being preserved in the new church.

     Calvary moved to its new location and held its first service on January 2 or 9, 1983.  At the end of 1982, the membership had grown to 299 (with 199 in attendance), the second largest membership in its history.  But by 1987 the membership had dropped to 173 (with 123 in attendance) because of 119 withdrawals, 55 transfers and 18 deaths. It seemed that many left because of how the pastor was conducting the worship services and two or three families created a split encouraging many to leave the church.

     The late 80’s and early 90’s saw another sharp rise in membership with Rev. Brickzin and 171 new members being brought into the fold.  When Rev. Brickzin left Calvary in 1995, he also left the denomination but that does not seem to have had an effect on the church.  However, it must be noted that membership at the end of 1996 was its highest ever at 301 and yet attendance was lagging in the 130’s, so maybe that was some effect on the congregation.

     Membership and attendance has been in continuous decline since 2000 with just a slight upward bump from 2003-2006 when the Mandan churches merged and First UMC, now Legacy UMC, was going through changes.  The membership at Calvary is presently 207 with 111 in attendance.

Pastors who have served the congregation and members added during their tenure were:



(Average Per Year)

Rev. Robert Strutz (also Mandan) 1959-1960

41 Charter Members

Rev. Ira Herzberg (1960-1968)

(served as Visitation Pastor, 1968-1986)

(Herzbergs had their own house and so upon his retirement in 1968, a parsonage was purchased at 1223 N 22nd St.)(loan was paid off 4/1979)

44 New Members        (5.5)

Rev. Norman Winkelman (1968-1979)

140 New Members      (12.7)

Rev. Walter Elmer (1979-1981)

19 New Members        (9.5)

Rev. Arthur Wesley (1981-1983)

73 New Members        (36.5)

Moved into New Church building at present address 1982-83

Rev. Gerald Fike (1983-1987)

46 New Members        (11.5)

1982 was the high point of membership at 299, but the number fell to 173 by 1987

Rev. Mark Brickzin (1987-1995)

171 New Members      (21.4)

Rev. Jim Cissel (1995-2001)

64 New Members        (10.7)

From 1995-2005 Sterling United Methodist was also a part of the Charge.

Rev. Joel Winckler (2001-2010)

138 New Members      (15.3)

Mandan churches merged and many came to Calvary 2003-2006; also Legacy changes.

Rev. Perry Schnabel (2010-present)

76 New Members        (9.5)


      Highlights of the last couple decades:

v  Building Improvements: New Sound System and Booth – 2003, Elevator – 2005, New Carpet upper floor – 2009, New Carpet in basement – 2010, Administrative Manager Desk – 2011, New Video System & Booth – 2012, Information Center – 2015, Coffee Center – 2017, Church Décor – 2017-2018.

v  Missions Financial in the last 20 years: Open Door since 1976, with Board Members doing some volunteer work, Ruth Meier’s House-only occasionally, Salvation Army-only occasionally, Teen Challenge, Gideon’s International (we do have one Gideon), Interfaith, Heaven’s Helpers Soup Café, various other projects the United Methodist Women have have supported financially, Covenant Missionaries (Graner’s) since 2006, Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) Singer’s since 2010 and Bryce Pilon since 2017.

v  Missions Outreach in the last 15 years: Served “The Banquet” at Trinity Lutheran since 2005, at least once a year, Trunk or Treat, or a version there of, at various times since 2005, Food Pantry (grocery cart) with one volunteer delivering and working 3 hours a week, Church Website since 2007, Visitation Team in 2008 but only lasted about a year and a half, Calvary Computer Club a few times since 2011, AWANA since 2012, CEF “Big Event” for a few years – but this is no longer held, Dakota’s Christmas boxes for a few years but switched to Samaritan’s Purse Operation  Christmas Child with much better participation, Solar Ovens until they moved to Zeeland. Did one year of an ‘Oven a Month’, video-record service and upload to U-tube and send to shut-ins 2017 (it was audio-recorded prior to that), Facebook Page 2017.  We have two men volunteering on their own behalf (not in the name of the church) at two elementary schools (Martin Luther and Lincoln), Heaven’s Helpers Soup Café – one person volunteering every other week.

     After the church went back to one charge, a second person was eventually brought on staff but that only lasted three years, it was a financial strain.  The church began having two services in 2007.  It was meant that the first service would be more contemporary but that has never really happened.  The first service has never grown to more than about 30 people at the most in attendance.