Healing Help for 125 Years: Lifelong Calvary Church Members Reflect with Gratitude
The Orland Park church is celebrating its lengthy longevity with a family party on Saturday.
It began in a barn in 1885 at 55th Street, where people came together and called themselves the Englewood Dutch Reformed Church. A year later there would be 33 official members.
One member from what is known today as Calvary Church in Orland Park can trace family members back to the barn.
"We have a long history with Calvary Church,” said Sandy Errico. “I have the names written down on a sheet of paper, so our family history with Calvary is documented."
Sandy was baptized at the church at 84th and Damen in Chicago. After her parents moved to the suburbs, they didn't travel to Chicago anymore.
"We went to a little church in Oak Forest for 10 years,” she said. “Then Calvary was built in Orland Park in the 1970s, so we went back."
Calvary Church is Sandy's life, and she involves herself in much of the church’s varied programming almost seven days a week, as does her family.
"My sons love the cadet group, they enjoy Sunday school as well,” Errico said. “Pastor Howard and Pastor Dave have been my rocks. They have been helping me through rough times. They are loving and compassionate, but that's what Calvary has always been known for, reaching out to help people."
One church motto is “helping the hurting.” A free class called Monday Night Life serves an important role for Errico.
"Monday Night Life is open to anyone,” she said. “It helps you get through past pains, addictions and just if you are hurting. This helps you begin to heal.”
Errico also appreciates the church’s outreach efforts, such as giving out school supplies and Thanksgiving baskets.
"My calling at Calvary is singing in the choir,” Errico said. “I love to get the message out through songs. I've been in the choir at Calvary more than half my life."
A favorite get-together for women is the Wednesday morning Coffee Break bible study, at 9:30 a.m. from September through May.
"Everything is confidential,” Errico said. “The ladies pray for you and support you spiritually. If you come here, you will feel welcomed and loved. My relatives have been here since the beginning. 125 years of going to church at the same church is outstanding."
Another lifelong member of Calvary is Joan Essenburg along with her husband Dale, from Orland Park.
"I was born and raised in the church," Joan said. “Our first daughter was baptized at the Calvary at 84th and Damen.”
Dale Essenburg became a member in 1966, and three months later he shipped off to serve in Vietnam. “Two years later when I came home, I became active at Calvary,” Dale said. “I've been a deacon, ran a men’s prayer group, was involved with the cadet club and helped build the organ chamber at the first Orland Park location."
The church provided Dale a comforting atmosphere when he experienced much the opposite growing up.
“I'm an adopted kid, later in my childhood. I came from a rape,” Dale said. “I wound up in foster homes. One home was a Baptist preacher, which was not very good. I was beaten and locked in closets. A start in life like that…I've had many struggles this church has pulled me through. Calvary is a church that preaches the word. Our pastors have had their crises in life. They're not perfect either. They've gone through struggles and then helped others in the church. We've had support from this congregation, when you have a problem, you can go and talk to them."
Calvary's Family Fun Day, celebrating 125 years, will be Saturday, Aug. 13, 10 a.m.-3p.m. at 16100 S. 104th Avenue in Orland Park. Everything is free which includes carnival games, a classic car show, pony rides, Xbox games, magic show, reptile show and more. Free hot dogs, brats and lemonade will be provided.