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Calvary Lutheran Church Marquette, Michigan


Built on the Rock the Church doth stand, Even when steeples are falling; Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land, Bells still are chiming and calling. Calling the young and old to rest, But above all the soul distrest, Longing for rest everlasting. (TLH 467:1)

When the Scandinavian hymn writer Nicolai F.S. Grundtvig wrote those words in 1837, He wasn’t thinking of a cold piece of granite, but of the Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4), the Lord Jesus Himself, Who is the Cornerstone of the Church (the hymn is based on Ephesians 2:19-22).

In 1955, Trinity Lutheran Church of Marquette forsook its own founding principles when it terminated the call of Pastor Egbert Albrecht and withdrew from the Wisconsin Synod. On April 17th, 1955, sixty-five of the communicants of Trinity withdrew from the congregation and established Calvary Lutheran Church, remaining in fellowship with nearby St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (WELS) of Green Garden.

After just six months, in October of 1955, the membership of Calvary purchased five lots on the corner of Sixth and Ohio Streets. They made plans to build a house of worship in which to glorify the Rock, the Lord Jesus. After they began digging, they discovered that the building would literally have to be built upon the rock: the bedrock.

After Pastor Albrecht accepted a call to Wisconsin, Pastor Bertram Naumann was called, accepted the call, and was ordained and installed on July 14, 1957. The year 1959 proved to be a year of decision for Calvary and St. Paul’s congregations with regard to fellowship relations with the Wisconsin Synod. Mr. Frank O. Paull Jr. and Mr. Alvin Wendt were co-delegates at the WELS convention held in Saginaw, Michigan. After this convention, in October 1959, sister congregations Calvary and St. Paul’s voted to suspend fellowship with the WELS and the Synodical Conference.

In August of 1960, Pastor Naumann and Russell Zerbel attended the organizational meeting of the Church of the Lutheran Confession in Watertown, South Dakota. Pastor Maynard Witt acted as temporary chairman and Pastor Paul F. Nolting as secretary. It was at this meeting that participants chose the name “Church of the Lutheran Confession” (CLC).

In January of 1961, Pastor Naumann and Delegate Warren Contois attended the final organizational conference of the CLC. The Joint Parish of Calvary, Marquette and St. Paul’s of Green Garden were among the thirty-three charter congregations of the CLC.

In 1964, the joint parish called a second part-time minister, Paul G. Fleischer, as assistant pastor of both Calvary and St. Paul’s. The idea of dividing the joint parish into separate congregations gained steam and by 1965 Pastor Naumann was installed as pastor of Calvary and Pastor Fleischer as pastor of  St. Paul’s in Green Garden.

Pastor James Sandeen followed Pastor Bertram Naumann, serving from 1967 until 1974. St. Paul’s of Green Garden continued in the CLC until August of 1977, when it withdrew, having rejected the CLC position on fraternal insurance organizations. Pastor Jonathan Schaller served those who left St. Paul’s and helped them to organize and establish Good Shepherd Lutheran.

Pastor Walter Schaller, father of Calvary’s current servant, was installed as pastor of Calvary in 1974. On April 30th, 1978, he was also installed as pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran. Then, since both congregations were being served by the same pastor, the members of Good Shepherd joined Calvary in 1979. 

Since then, Calvary has been served by Pastors David Sweet (1987-1989), David Reim (1989-1997), Joel Fleischer (1997-2014) and Andrew Schaller (current).

Marquette is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is named after the Jesuit priest who founded the area. “U.P.” is a commonly used abbreviation for Upper Peninsula and those who live up here are affectionately called “Yoopers.” Marquette is home to Northern Michigan University. The city is located on the shores of the pristine waters of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. The lake serves both to moderate our weather and add to the depth of our snow.

The Upper Peninsula has long been known for logging and for the mining of iron ore, which is used to make steel. While some of the mines have closed, mining still continues today and the ore is still shipped out by means of large ore ships.

The membership of Calvary is still founded upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. We are still at work proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. There are currently eighty members of Calvary, including four children. During the tenure of Pastor David Reim, the sanctuary was beautified with the addition of stained-glass windows, windows that still serve to glorify the Lord Jesus. Most recently we have been advertising on local radio stations and making use of other ways to get the message of “Christ, the Rock of Our Salvation” out in the community. It is our prayer that the Lord Jesus will bless these efforts and give us face-to-face opportunities speak of Him to others.

Calvary’s purpose remains to build upon the Rock. This is illustrated in our current advertising tag line: “Calvary Lutheran Church . . . it’s all about Christ, it’s all about the Cross.”

We are God’s house of living stones,
Builded for His habitation;

He through baptismal grace us owns
Heirs of His wondrous salvation.

Were we but two His name to tell,

Yet He would deign with us to dwell,

With all His grace and His favor.

(TLH 467:3)

Andrew Schaller is pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Marquette, Michigan.