Edwards church chasing a God-sized goal
EDWARDS, Colorado – A local church is chasing a God-sized goal.
Calvary Chapel Vail Valley is raising $4.5 million before the end of the year to buy the building from which they’re ministering, the fieldhouse and performing arts center at Vail Christian High School in Edwards.
“It can happen,” said Tommy Schneider, Calvary’s senior pastor.
Yes, everyone understands it’s a lot of money, and everyone understands the local economy.
“We’re trusting God for a miracle,” Schneider said.
Schneider reflects Calvary, or maybe it’s the other way around. They’re both big and bouncy and full of fun and hard work, unabashedly Christian, doing what they can with what they have, where they’re at for Jesus’ sake today.
Calvary’s 13th anniversary is Oct. 10, and they’ll be kicking off their campaign – unless you want to write a check now, which would be fine.
They’re not asking for a handout, just a hand so they can keep lending a hand.
Toward that end, the building is a tool, not a monument, Schneider says.
“This congregation puts great emphasis on meeting the needs of this community,” Schneider said. “We’ve just scratched the surface.”
The building is a piece of that puzzle, providing a physical place to turn to when things go bad or there’s a need that needs to be met.
“The things you can do based from a facility like this are immeasurable,” Schneider said, sitting on a couch in the basement while dozens of preschoolers played in the gym just yards away.
“We want it to be available for people when they’re in need,” he said.
Calvary runs three Sunday services, all well attended. Last week they had more than 60 elementary school age kids, and more than 30 in the nursery and toddler rooms.
More than four dozen moms and their preschool children showed up for M.O.P.S. – Moms of Preschoolers. They meet a couple times a week in the gym, a big open space for kids to burn off all kinds of energy.
People come in for counseling all day every day.
“We clearly have enough people and stuff to fill it up, and we can come up with more,” Schneider said.
Calvary stuffed backpacks with school supplies and handed them out to anyone who needed one. More than 300 people showed up, and they didn’t advertise the event.
“Our heart from the beginning was to have a contagious love for God, to be intricately involved with the community,” Schneider said.
Calvary popped onto the local radar in a big way with its Fall Fun Nights in Avon’s Nottingham Park. Avon had run it for three years, but asked Calvary to take it over. They did it for 10 years before moving to the gym this year.
Calvary has run the family zone at Avon’s July 4th America Days celebration for more than a decade.
Between just those two events, that’s thousands of happy kids coming under a positive influence, trailed closely by their parents.
“The goal is to meet the needs of the community as it has changed,” Schneider said.
About that community. Calvary has seen 24 weddings in 23 months since starting its Sunday night service. It’s a younger crowd, and more international.
There was the professor from Istanbul who posed as a homeless guy for some research he was doing. He did the whole homeless thing, including living in his car. They feed you Sunday nights at Calvary, so it was one of his regular stops.
“We fed him and loved on him,” Schneider said. “Lots of times it would be the only meal he’d had that day.”
The professor is back in Turkey and watches the Calvary service every Sunday on the church’s website.
As a congregation, Calvary Chapel is beautiful and vibrant and living and growing.
But this is also a business deal, said Michael Routh, a Calvary elder who’s helping coordinate the effort.
Vail Christian High School over-extended itself when it built a fieldhouse and performing arts center to go with its main classroom building. That piled up around $12 million in debt.
The school’s bondholders cut them a deal last spring, but part of it requires the school to unload the fieldhouse building by the end of the year.
After that it goes on the open market, with the unpleasant possibility that someone unfriendly to the school could buy it.
“The school was saved, but they have to sell this building to make the business work,” Tommy said.
Routh said they’re taking an “If-You-Believe-It-They-Will-Come” approach.
“We’re trying focus on people. If we have everyone behind it, the money will show up,” Routh said.
It’s a little like a barn raising. People are coming up with all kinds of ways to help. Change jars sit on most bedside tables. One girls just brought in her third.
Some folks are running online auctions, one guy volunteered to blow out irrigation systems and give the money to the building fund.
“People are stepping out on faith and doing everything they can. God will bless that,” Schneider said.