Church History

Church History
Calvin Presbyterian Church
1958 — 1983
Early in 1956 the National Missions Committee of the Cedar Rapids Presbytery requested from the Cedar Rap­ids and Marion Council of Churches comity rights in the area of the new Erskine School (36th Street and Clark Road S.E.) This was granted with the understanding that within a two-year period there be evidence that the obliga­tions of
the request were being fulfilled.

In February, 1957, Dr. Wm. H. French, field secretary of the United Presbyterian Synod of Iowa, approached the committee requesting to be included in the project. The Rev. Mr. R.J. Tjaden and Dr. French were instructed to contact realtors regarding available land and with approval of all concerned a 2-5/8th acre tract purchased at 38th Street and Mt.
Vernon Road S.E. A three-bedroom manse was purchased at 702 40th Street S.E. Changes were made in the basement to allow for church meetings and social functions to be held during the week. Both of these properties were purchased from the Grande Avenue Church trust fund.
The Rev. Alfred A. Kelsey, D.D., came from Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, Tampa Florida, as the mis­sionary developer on April 20, 1958.
Through an arrangement with the Cedar Rapids School District it was possible to secure the use of Erskine School on a rental basis. The first service was held there on August 3, 1958, with 76 present. A completely organized Sunday School began the next week with Mr. Edwin Edgerly serving as superintendent.

On February 8, 1959, an Organization Service was held at 3:00 p.m., with a charter membership of 120 persons.

On May 1, 1960, the present church building, 715 38th Street S.E., was completed and dedicated. The Rev. Alfred A. Kelsey served as pastor until Feb­ruary, 1968. He and his wife, Margaret, and their child­ren, Donald R., Mary L., and Philip A., lived in the manse until he was called to another congregation.

On July 1, 1968, Rev. Earl A. Huebner was called and began his ministry September 1, 1968. He had served as associate pastor of Westminster Church in Waterloo, Iowa. He, his wife, Lavonne, and their daughters, Deborah, Mary, Nancy and Sharon lived at the manse, 702 40th Street S.E.

The merger of Calvin Presbyterian Church and the Sinclair Memorial Presbyterian Church was finalized in October, 1968. At this time the name of the church was changed and was then called Calvin-Sinclair United Presbyterian Church. The first Sunday service after the merger was held on November 17, 1968, and Communion was held at the two services - 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

The Rev. Earl A. Huebner retired as of June 30, 1979. On January 1, 1980, Dennis Eide came from Russell, Minnesota and served until August 31, 1981.

On October 30, 1982, the Rev. James Hires, with his wife, Donna, and their son, Joshua, arrived in Cedar Rapids and he began his ministry with Calvin-Sinclair on November 1, 1982.

Pastors of Calvin
  • Rev. Alfred A. Kelsey, D.D.    Tampa, FL

Missionary Developer - April 20, 1958
Minister from Aug. 3, 1958 to Feb. 25, 1968
Wife, Margaret
Children:    Donald R., Mary L., Philip A.

  • Rev. Earl A. Huebner    Waterloo, 1A

Minister from Sept. 1, 1968 to June 30, 1979
Wife, Lavonne
Children:    Deborah, Mary, Nancy and Sharon

  • Rev. Tom Bower-student from Seminary Dubuque, IA

Interim minister June 3, 1979 - Dec. 31, 1979
Wife, Jean
Children:    Sarah and David

  • Rev. Dennis Eide

Minister from Jan. 1, 1980 - Aug. 31, Wife, Bonnie
Children:    Matthew, Aaron, Carrie

  • Rev. David W. Jurgens    Iowa City, IA

Interim minister Sept. 27, 1981 - Oct. 31, 1982
Wife, Dixie
Daughters:    Ruth and Emile

  • Rev. James Hires    Arlington, KS

Minister since November 1, 1982
Installed, November 21, 1982
Wife, Donna
Son: Joshua


Sinclair Memorial Presbyterian Church
1868 - 1968
The second Sunday of July, 1868, a Sunday School began with Mrs. E.J. Lund in a small frame building on the corner of 5th Street and 7th Avenue East. This was organized as mission Sunday School for especially the Bohemian children of the city.

When the school outgrew this building it moved to the second ward building, which stood on the site once occu­pied by “old” Washington High School - where the Amer­ican Legion building now stands.
Later it was moved to the old Presbyterian Church called “Little Muddy,” corner where the old post office stands, 3rd Street and 2nd Avenue East, and now called the Witwer Senior Center.

In the Spring of 1874 again they moved - to the Box Factory, 12th Avenue and 6th Street East, of T.M. Sin­clair & Co. Packing Plant (now Wilson & Co.) and Mr. Sinclair also held Friday evening prayer meetings there, and at his home Sunday afternoons a Bible class for men.
Hope Chapel was erected of brick veneer, where Little Muddy had been located, and was occupied in 1878. An addition was built for the Primary Dept. in 1883. In 1887 it was organized as the Third Presbyterian Church and used until fire claimed the building on November 21, 1901.

At that time Mrs. T.M. Sinclair decided to build a memorial to her husband and a brick church building was erected, plus a large manse, and was dedicated to the glory of God, March 29, 1903, on the Southwest corner of 12th Avenue and 10th Street S.E. That same year the name of the church was changed to Sinclair Memorial Presbyter­ian Church. In connection with the occupying of the new building, another building project was undertaken to provide a place of meeting for the Sunday School on the South side of the river, in what was then known as “Stumptown.” That work had begun in 1892.
Per session records, the first service in Sinclair Memor­ial was attended by 600 people for the morning service on “a beautiful, bright day.” At the evening service the four other Presbyterian churches joined in the dedication and about 1000 people were present.

The Rev. Charles G. Sterling, Ph.D., had been asked to serve in the pulpit in September 1898 and he agreed to serve for only one year. He came from Madison, Wiscon­sin and remained until his resignation,
May 1, 1904. From the 1903 City Directory, the other Presbyterian churches at that time were:

  • First Presbyterian Church, 3rd Avenue & 5th Street E.
  • Second Presbyterian Church, 3rd Avenue & So. 3rd Street E.
  • First United Presbyterian Church, 3rd Avenue & 2nd Street W.
  • Central Park Presbyterian Church, 1700 B Avenue East
  • (Also listed was: Fourth Bohemian Presbyterian Church, 901 South 7th St. E., known later as Hus Memorial.)

The Rev. Raymond V. Garvey was called to serve February 20, 1966 and preached the final sermon for the church on Sunday, November 10, 1968. He, his wife, Eleanor, and their children, Mark, Rebecca, David and Sharon, came to Cedar Rapids from Walla Walla, Washington and lived at 601 42nd St. S.E.

The church was merged with Calvin Presbyterian Church and the first service with them was on Sunday, November 17, 1968.

Pastors of Sinclair Memorial
  • Rev. August Cramer    Marion, SD

Minister from 1927- Apr. 27, 1941 (farewell sermon)
Wife, Dena
Children:    Serola, Gertrude, Lillian, Marvin, and Carol

  • Rev. William C. Porter    Waterloo, IA

Minister June 29, 1941 to July 1, 1944

  • Rev. Ralph B. Colton    Jasper, IN

Minister June, 1945 to August 31, 1958
Wife, Blanche
Children:    Eldon, Russell, Marvin

  • Rev. Edward L. Beall    Donneilson, IA

Minister May, 1959 to April 30, 1964
Wife, Mildred
Children:  Howard,  Dickson, Prince and Leyburn


  • Rev. Donald Ray Seminary student Dubuque, IA Christian Education Director 1962 to 1965 and assistant minister

Wife, Beverly
Children:    Cathy, Nelora, Diane, Carol, Dan, Ben


  • Rev. Raymond V. Garvey    Walla Walla, WA

Children:    Mark, Rebecca, David, Sharon
Wife, Eleanor
Minister February 20, 1966 to November 10, 1968