If a church serves only its members, the impact it makes is limited.
Calvary Harvest Fields wants to be known as a church without walls, not an uncommon concept, but one that Pastor Dan Nold wants to embrace to the fullest in the region.
To kick off that sentiment, the church will have a grand opening from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday — complete with giant inflatables for teens and adults, crafts and carnival games, live music and door prizes — for the community. If it rains, the event will be inside from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
“The vision that the church has had from the beginning is this property would be a place for the community, breaking down walls between the church and community and to be a place everyone could enjoy,” said Calvary Communications Director Ginger Larson Hall. “It’s not just for us. It’s for everyone.”
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The 26,200-square-foot church is housed on Harvest Field’s 104 acres and is home to an about 500-seat auditorium for services and reservations by the community, an indoor play area safe for children, open fields, ponds, a sand volleyball court, fire pits, The Lodge for meetings and workshops, a soon-to-be-completed soccer field and a grand view overlooking Happy Valley and Mount Nittany.
Calvary will host open hours for the play area.
Calvary also deeded 10 acres of land to Harris Township for Tussey Pond Park.
“As we designed it, we always had in mind the community,” Nold said. “We met with architects, and we told them we wanted it to be for the whole community, so that all people and all gatherings could find value and use in it. That shaped how we would build and have it be a gathering spot.”
They had Calvary Harvest Fields, a Baptist general convention, on their minds for a long time — more than a decade.
“There were obstacles, I would call them, to overcome,” Nold said. “Some of it was getting city sewer out there, and that was a pretty long process. We also had to build along with other developers with a new road for access. Just a number of obstacles. We thought we’d build it eight years ago.”
Nold feels there was a spiritual purpose behind it taking so long to complete the project.
“There were other things God wanted us to do before we had the building,” Nold said.
He’s happy to see the fruits of their labor at work now with the building up and running.
“The play space has been open for people to come in and enjoy,” Nold said Wednesday. “There were 12 moms and about 20 kids in there yesterday, and about half of them weren’t from Calvary, and that gets me jazzed. We wanted it to be a community space and for it to be used as a community space.”
He also hopes the openness of the church draws people closer to their spiritual side.
“On one hand this process has been an exercise in perseverance and to work together to do it, and to see it now is satisfying, but it’s never been the top goal to build a building,” Nold said. “It’s not about the building. It’s about the people. I get far more satisfaction seeing what people get out of this and developing connections with them. We’re trying to connect Christ, the community and their calling.”
Calvary also rents space periodically for services at Gray’s Woods Elementary School, Camp Kanesatake in Spruce Creek, Penns Valley and The State Theatre.