by Elsie Walker
“Preaching the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible”, is the motto of the Calvary Bible Chapel, an independent Baptist church on Main Street in Flanders. In addition, words that congregation members use to describe the church are “family” and “music”. The congregation treats each other like family, enjoys the musical gifts shared during services, and enjoys sharing special programs, such as the church’s annual Christmas cantata, at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, December 22nd.
“Big churches have lots of programs to promote ‘small-group fellowship’. Well, we are a small group! Being part of our small group of believers is being part of a family,” said Pamela Heinrich, of Mt. Olive, wife of the church’s pastor.
David Marine, of Rockaway, who has attended the church since childhood, also mentioned that when he thinks of the church, the first word that comes to mind is “family”… “both in the literal sense that there are multiple generations of families that attend, but also in the fact that you can’t attend a service without getting the sense that people generally care for each other. While some churches may have that sense during a single Sunday service, I know that everyone at Calvary Bible Chapel is going home and praying for the needs of others…that if there’s a specific need, these people will be the first to lend a hand and they are the encouragers and shoulders that can be collectively leaned on in a time of need. That mentality and Christian love starts with our pastor and his family who consistently leads by example, but it is spread throughout all members and has exemplified Calvary Bible Chapel since I first darkened its doors as a kid.”
The pastor of the church is Donn Heinrich; his father was the pastor before him. Heinrich’s father pastored churches in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. In 1983, some Christians wanted to establish a church in Mt. Olive. For a little over a year, they met at the Tinc Elementary School, before purchasing the old Presbyterian building. Heinrich joined his father in serving the church in 1997, and has been the pastor since 2001.
Heinrich and his wife, Pamela, have three teenagers: Joshua, Abigail, and Anna. Over the years, the family has fostered dogs from a rescue, getting the dogs ready for their forever homes. Also, Heinrich describes himself as a “long suffering Jets fan”.
When asked what he likes most about being a pastor, Heinrich said, “I enjoy the daily interaction with people and reading the Bible.”
Marine shared what having Heinrich as friend and a pastor has meant to him: “Pastor Donn was the older brother I never had (I’m an only child), and I remember him coming to my little leagues game as a kid. When we had an extra ticket to a Mets game, he was the one who’d I want to invite. I was an usher in his wedding and he was a groomsman in mine. I share all this because for as long as I’ve known him, he has always been an exemplary person of Christian character who I am proud to call my pastor. Sometimes, when you get to know people that well, you can see the cracks in their character, but for me it has made me even more appreciative of his servant-leadership that both he and his wife, Pam, and even his children are all living examples of as well.”
Christian educational opportunities at the church include Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. The Sunday school offers a class appropriate for every age group, including classes for lower elementary, upper elementary, and a combined teen/adult class. On Wednesday nights, there are additional offerings for children and youth to grow in faith.
“My wife, Tara, and I have four boys who have all been born and raised as part of Calvary Bible Chapel. Sunday school classes for their different age groups is offered, as well as youth group on Wednesday nights and ‘Patch Club’ for the younger kids, where they learn verses, sing songs and hear stories as part of a kids’ curriculum,” shared David Marine.
Among those who provide the Christian education are Pamela Heinrich. “I love teaching! Helping my students learn that God’s Word is relevant and applicable to every aspect of their lives is very exciting to me. To know the Lord Jesus as their own personal Savior is a goal for each child, but that’s just the beginning of learning more about God and His plan for their lives. Having a small part in that teaching is humbling and thrilling at the same time,” she said.
Each Sunday, the church has a service at 10:45 a.m. and another service starting around 12:50 p.m. Nursery care is available during services.
David Marine’s mother, Jennifer Marine, of Morris Plains, described the two Sunday services:
“The first service is more formal; the organ plays the congregational hymns along with the piano, brass instrument and two stringed instruments. There’s an opening prayer, congregational hymns, Pastoral Prayer, scripture reading, special music and Bible preaching. The afternoon service is less formal and shorter. Hymns are sung with just the piano accompanying. Sometimes, requests for favorites from the congregation are taken and sung. After the singing, we’re given a message from God’s word. The piano is played by one of the very capable piano students in the afternoon.” She noted that once a month the afternoon service is a communion service.
Music is important in this church and is an opportunity for many to share their gifts. As church pianist, accompanist, and choral/piano organizer, Jennifer Marine talked about her background and the music ministry of the church. “I was a music major in college and taught music for 30 years in two different Christian schools, so it’s something I love to do. I give piano lessons to five of our students at Calvary Bible Chapel, ages 9 – 16. We do not have a choir that sings every week, but we do have one that is on the music schedule to sing at least once a month, rotating with various soloists, as well as duets, trios and quartets. There is a special musical number presented every Sunday morning. Our ministry of music is very strong, Christ honoring and a blessing to the hearers. Three of our youths play other instruments during our singing on Sunday mornings. They are wonderful.” Pamela Heinrich added that those youth are members of the Lakeland Youth Symphony that meets weekly in Mountain Lakes.
On Sunday, December 22nd at 10:45 a.m., the church will be presenting the cantata, “Everlasting Light”. Pam Heinrich explained that it is choir/small group/solo singing interspersed with scripture and dialogue. “Those singing are all church members that include our teens and a song by our children as well,” she noted.
The church’s family feel is truly sensed each Sunday when the congregation shares a meal between services. It is an inter-generational gathering of, as Donn Heinrich puts it, gray heads and young people, just as in any family sitting down to a Sunday meal.
“At noon, we enjoy lunch together. Some weeks we bring hot foods for a buffet. Some weeks it’s soup and sandwich and other weeks bring your own. At lunch, we have animated conversation, often sharing insights about the morning sermon. Here we also catch up on the goings on in our lives,” shared Jody Douglas, of Morristown, who has attended the church for seven years.
The church is involved in two outreaches: visiting Mt. Olive Manor and supporting missionaries.
For twenty years, the church has reached out to its neighbors at Mt. Olive Manor. Going there once a month, congregation members share in singing, scripture and prayer with the residents. On occasion, the children of the church join them and share their musical talents or distribute a small craft they’ve made. Donn Heinrich said the residents especially like when the children visit.
Another important outreach for the church is supporting missionaries. The church is “engaged and knows our missionaries,” explained Donn Heinrich. Letters are exchanged with missionaries in foreign countries, like Uruguay and South Korea. Pamela Heinrich talked about the importance of this support.
“Spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is essential as God commands us to do so in His Word: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20a). Our missionaries are not just folks whose pictures hang on our lobby wall or whose names appear in our weekly bulletin. We know them by name, pray for them every time we meet as a church, and then support them in prayer in our homes as well,” she said.
In reflecting about the church, Douglas summed up the thoughts of many. She shared, “The people who worship at Calvary Bible Chapel are indeed a family in the Lord. The pastor leads as a faithful servant of Jesus Christ and the elders serve the members. We are blessed to have talented musicians, adults and young alike for worshipful music. Everyone at Calvary has opportunity to use their gifts to serve the Lord by serving others.”
Calvary Bible Chapel
76 Main Street
Flanders, New Jersey 07836