Pastor Donn Heinrich Ushers Flanders Cavalry Bible Chapel into its 40th Year

By Alexander Rivero, Staff Writer

   Cavalry Bible Chapel wasn’t always at its current address of 76 Main Street in Flanders. When it opened up in 1983, for a full year and a half it ran its prayer group sessions at a local elementary school, as well as in the homes of church members who would do the work of setting up the necessary space fit for a sizable gathering, and then disassemble everything back into place. Now, quickly approaching its 40th anniversary on Main Street, Pastor Donn Heinrich’s main difficulty is the upkeep of the church itself. 
    
    “It’s certainly a good problem to have,” says Heinrich. 
    
    The Chapel, which is a small independent Baptist church, began out of a need for families of a prior church, many of whom today still travel between 20 and 30 minutes to attend service each Sunday, to have a place of worship that not only centered itself on its belief in the biblical texts, but practiced the message of those texts in action each day.    
    
    Heinrich, at the helm since 2001 and whose father was the previous pastor, earned a college degree in bible studies from Bob Jones University, and continued on at BJU to earn masters degrees in pastoral studies and counseling.
    
    Heinrich’s career as pastor, he says, has filled his life with countless opportunities for growth. Now in his mid-50s, he acknowledges the otherwise obvious fact that neither he, nor any one of us, will ever arrive at spiritual perfection, but the point of it all—the studying of scripture and the cultivation of those lessons in daily practice and thought—is to aim for such perfection anyway. 

    Through it all, it helps to have had a solid example of just what it takes to live the life of faith, one gift among many his father gave him. Heinrich says he saw a good example of what it meant to be a Christian through his father, a man committed to the Bible, to establishing a relationship with God and to have it serve as his primary source of guidance in his every action. 
    
    “Watching my father when I was growing up was a very impactful experience for me,” says the pastor. “I saw the life of faith from the inside out while growing up, and in my own home, the faith lived out, and had a profound effect on me.” 

    When preaching, Heinrich proceeds by biblical book, each of which can contain years’ worth of lessons to unpack, analyze, discuss, and apply. He spent two years discussing the Book of Jeremiah and is now on the book of Hebrews, one he originally wanted to push through in thirteen weeks but found the time constraint too overbearing to fully excavate the book’s lessons. 
    
    “To fully discuss any of these books can take a very long time,” he laughs, referring to books in both New and Old Testaments. 

    “I try to rotate the books we discuss so that it’s not always in the New Testament but in the Old Testament as well.  I read through the Bible myself in the year. I refresh my own sense of the books and what I’ll be focusing on during gatherings.” 

    
    Heinrich cites the Book of Psalms as the place where he opens to most often now, as he gets older. 
    
    “As a kid, I’d often wonder why the older folks loved the Psalms so much. And I find myself gravitating to them more often than not these days,” he says. “We enter into the stories of the psalmist, and see the challenges of life in there, these very real, very relatable problems people face every day.” 

    He typically prepares himself for Sunday service by reading over relevant texts in the Bible, and also by looking at supplementary materials, scholarly commentary, that help shape his own insights and his sermons. It is the books themselves that take precedent over any particular topic of interest, and Heinrich will stay on a particular book, usually to its completion, before moving on to the next one.
    

    Calvary Bible Chapel offers Sunday school service at 9:45 every Sunday morning, followed by regular service at 10:45 am, where those who come will read and discuss passages of scripture at length. Following the 10:45 service there is an afternoon service, which is brief. Many of the Chapel’s newest members begin their attendance here, and proceed to the 10:45 service as they come back. Wednesday service offers readings of shorter passages of scripture, and where the smaller gatherings allow for a more personal atmosphere. 

 

For more information on Calvary Bible Chapel, visit www.calvaryflanders.com.

 

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