Central Park in Valparaiso became an outdoor chapel on Sunday as more than 1200 people gathered for Calvary Church’s Father’s Day service. Well before the 10:45 am start time, church members and visitors from the community set up camp chairs or spread blankets on the grass. Classic cars and food vendors lined Lafayette Street for the Cruise In that followed the service.
“It was an emotional experience for me to look out and see a thousand worshippers from Calvary all together,” said senior pastor, F. Lionel Young. Parishioners usually split between the church’s two Sunday morning service times. “It is one thing to look at the numbers on paper,” said director of worship, Kurt Felsman. “But seeing and worshipping with everyone in person was great!” Band members from Christian contemporary group Sevenglory, for whom Felsman is the lead singer, mixed with the Calvary Church worship band as they do every Sunday they are in town. But it was the children’s worship group, J.U.M.P., who opened the event and got the crowd on its feet and singing. “It was especially great to see the young children worshipping God with all their heart through song and dance—how awesome!” said executive pastor Mark Lackey.
The church took advantage of short breaks between songs to promote upcoming events like their Vacation Bible School program coming July 15-17. Mayor Jon Costas spoke for a few moments to welcome the fathers in the crowd and to credit the influence of his own dad.
When Young walked on stage to share his message, A ‘Word’ to Dads on Father’s Day, the dark skies that had threatened throughout the morning were finally clear and sunny. Young encouraged fathers to remember that neither they nor their children are perfect. The job of being a dad, he said, is about letting go of perfection, embracing one’s need for help from God, and looking for opportunities to teach and guide kids with a hefty dose of grace. He pointed out that the church community is full of people willing to aid and mentor both parents and kids. “I have learned that no one has to go at it alone,” Young said.
Calvary Church’s service was the first of its kind in Central Park Plaza since the plaza opened in 2011. As families formed lines in front of food stands, children tossed frisbees provided by the church, and friends perused classic cars following the service, people seemed in agreement—a beautiful day, an exciting worship time, a great pastoral message, and an experience worth repeating. Said church member, Debbie Deutsch, “It was as close to perfect as you can get!”
Calvary Church, 1325 Evans Ave., Valparaiso, is an independent Bible church committed to spreading the word about Jesus Christ throughout Northwest Indiana and the world. Calvary offers a contemporary worship experience and relevant expository preaching to nearly 1200 worshippers. For more information, visit www.calvaryweb.net.