Keeping the faith: local church celebrates 20th year, looks to build its own
Brian Larson was giving his first sermon as a senior pastor in a Southern California church when the thought, “two years,” came into his mind, loud and clear.
It was so clear he even jotted down “two years” in his calendar. As it turned out, it was exactly two years to the date that he ended up accepting the call to be a senior pastor of a church in a little mountain town called Truckee.
A Southern California boy born and raised in Burbank, Larson had always wanted to live near the mountains, but when he was invited to interview in Truckee, he admits he had to look it up on a map.
When the minister arrived in town with his wife, Joyce, and the first two of their six children, people asked him if he had received another word from the Lord as to how long he would be here.
“I said, ‘None whatsoever,’ but people continued to press me about how long I thought I would stay. So I said, ‘Oh, five years.'”
That was in 1975.
In 1981, Larson began working with a group of believers that were meeting in the auditorium at Tahoe-Truckee High School. The group, known as the Calvary Chapel of Truckee, is now celebrating its 20th year together.
One reason Larson thinks the church has become so popular is its unusual setting.
“I think many people have come to the high school because it is a non-threatening place,” said Larson. “For whatever reason, a traditional church building will conjure up negative feelings in some people. Many feel more comfortable coming for the first time to a school rather than a church building.”
It’s the atmosphere that induced Minister of Worship Pastor Jim Mensie into Calvary Chapel.
“I finally got to a point in my life, where I said, ‘I want to know who Jesus is,” said Mensie recalling his first experience with the chapel. “At that time, our next door neighbors were going to a church at a school. My friend kept telling me, ‘Hey, man, they don’t do hymns! They don’t have stained glass windows. They don’t have an organ. The pastor is funny. The guy up front plays the guitar. We do this fun music!'”
It’s the setting, upbeat atmosphere and unusual style of Preacher Larson that has built Calvary’s congregation to over 500 people.
But Calvary Chapel is finally looking to build. The church bought 126 acres at Klondike Flat on Highway 89 North in the late 1980s and the congregation has begun looking for an architect and applying for building permits to start work on a new structure.
Larson says the church is committed to building debt free, which he realizes could take a mini-miracle.
“It has been my desire from the beginning for this church to be built by God himself, or not at all,” said Larson. “There are plenty of monuments out there as to what man can do and what man can build. I wanted and still want Calvary Chapel to be purely a work of God.”
“As such he is free to grow it, shrink it or take it away, as he sovereignly wills. The goal of Calvary Chapel will remain the same – to help people know Christ better and walk with him more closely. It’s as simple as that.”
For more information about Calvary Chapel of Truckee, call the church office at 587-1711.
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