1856 - The first religious service held in the lakes regions was at the Gardner Cabin just two months after the Spirit Lake Massacre. A crowd of 12 or 20 men came, stacked their guns in the corner, and heard an inspiring sermon by Rev. Prescott who was a Methodist minister. No women lived in the settlement until the following year. Rev. Prescott lived in the Gardner cabin and held regular Methodist worship services during his years of living in the cabin.
1863 - Rev. Samuel Pillsbury, a circuit riding preacher, came to Lake Okoboji. He also lived in the Gardner Cabin and held Methodist services in the cabin and the school annex next to the cabin 1864, the first camp meeting in northwestern Iowa was held in a grove, at what is now known as Ft. Dodge Point. Pillsbury Point was named after Rev. Pillsbury.
1925 - the Lake Okoboji Community Church was organized and a large summer tabernacle was erected near the lake shore at the end of Carita Street.
1927 - The tabernacle was abandoned when the members petitioned the Northwest Iowa Methodist Conference for a church in Arnolds Park. This was done after a canvass was made of Arnolds Park and
Okoboji, with 80 residents declaring themselves Methodist. Rev. Edgar Hammerle was appointed pastor and under his supervision the church on Hwy 71 in Arnolds Park was built. The land was known as the Parker property and was purchased for $7000. The house and several cottages were sold and together with $2100 given by the Community church, a building fund was started. Rev. Hammerle was an architect and builder as well as pastor and he put in long hours with the help of others to build the present structure. A matching parsonage was built just south of the church building.
1928 - The church was dedicated in August.
1932 - The actual building was completed In October, a special Sunday service was held in the Gardner log cabin in commemoration of the first religious service held by the Methodists in Arnolds Park.
1992 - In May, the 135th Anniversary was also celebrated with a special service at the log cabin.
1947 - In September, the name of the church was changed from Episcopal Calvary Methodist Church to Calvary Methodist Church.
1970 - The name was again changed to Calvary United Methodist Church. This was due to the merger of the EUB Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1964.
Charter members of the Calvary Church were: Arthur J. Marshall, Florence Marshall Gilchrist, Clara Graves, Clara Swarner, Evelyn Swarner, Muriel Swarner, Marjorie Swarner, Mrs. V.P. Miller, Emma Arp, Frank Elson, Maude Elston, Mrs. M.Goltry, Mrs. F.G. Gustafson, Olga Nielsen, Mary E. Miller, Dorothy Miller, William K. Taylor, Margaret Taylor, Lizzie Thompson, Emily Kellog, Minnie R. Allen, Hazel Christensen, William Christensen, C.B. Elston, Lena Elston, Margie Ego, Minnie Phillips, Minnie Hammerle, Carle Sherburne, and Edgar Hammerle. In February of 1970, the District Superintendent proposed a new type of ministry in conjunction with the Arnolds Park church. This ministry was to fit the needs of the times with an outreach approach in the community. An ordained minister would be assigned to the church with added duties of serving the lakes area in the summer months. It was called the Iowa Great Lakes Ministry. The minister and helpers would circulate throughout the area providing spiritual help to those in need.
1984 - The Arnolds Park church became part of a two-point charge with Fostoria.
1989 - This church was made a part of a three-point charge adding Excelsior United Methodist Church.
1991 - A Boat Worship Service was held at Claire C. Wilson Park, where people would come by car or boat.
1992 - The Worship Walk was another interesting program to tell the life of Christ from birth to resurrection.
2002 - Calvary United Methodist Church became a single charge once again.
2014 - The land on West Okoboji Grove Road in Arnolds Park was purchased to build a new church and the Highway 71 location was sold and deconsecrated. Church services for the next year were held in the Pavilion at the Arnolds Park Amusement Park.
2016 - The new church was completed and dedicated in August.
CALVARY'S PASTORAL HISTORY
CARL K. HUDSON
ARTHUR B. CAMPNEY
R. D. STREETER
DR. SARAH ROHRET
REV. CHRIS ST. CLAIR
2018 - Present