KALO - The Rev. Beryl Vinchattle thought he'd spend his working life on the road, taking the word of God into small towns and large, wherever the spirit took him.
The spirit, however, dropped him at the Otho-Kalo Community Church in Kalo five years ago, and he's been shepherd of that flock since then.
''I came out to fill in one Sunday on Oct. 10, and we've been here ever since,'' he said.
-Messenger photo by Sandy Mickelson
The Rev. Beryl Vinchattle of the Otho-Kalo Community Church looks up a Bible passage. The church will celebrate its new addition at an open house on Aug. 17. The public is invited.
Under his guidance, the little church decided to re-create itself and put on a new addition that houses the sanctuary, a kitchen and dining area and a classroom. The old sanctuary remains and may be used for weddings or special occasions.
An open house to show off the new addition will be 2 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 17.
It's a chance for members to show off their new church home to former members or anyone who just wants to know what the Otho-Kalo Community Church is all about.
WHO: Otho-Kalo Community Church.
WHAT: Open house.
WHEN: 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 17.
WHERE: At the church, 1203 Nelson Ave., Kalo.
THE CHURCH sponsors missionaries in two places: Dale and Darlene Merrill to Belarus, Russia, and Doug and Ramona Waldo, a street ministry in the inner cities.
A JAM SESSION is held at 6 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month, with music by banjo, accordion and guitar.
CHURCH SERVICES are 10:30 a.m.; Sunday school at 9:30 a.m.
''The word of God is preached here,'' Vinchattle said. ''I think that's why a lot of people come.''
Deacon Earnest Dutcher, of Otho, says, ''I think just being a little country church has a lot to do with it. A lot of people like the setting.''
Dutcher said the oldest member of the church is Louise Brown, who was 101 on July 8. ''She's been with this church for so long. She was 93 and still driving to church.''
There are approximately 90 members in the church, but Sunday attendance varies between 30 and 70 on any given Sunday, Vinchattle said.
The project cost about $225,000, but much of it was completed with volunteer labor, and ''labor's worth as much as the materials,'' Dutcher said.
''We never stopped,'' Vinchattle said. ''We just kept putzing along. We did a lot of it ourselves. I pounded nails there for a couple of years, but we have everything now in place where we can move ahead.''
Through the years, new members continue to join the church. Baptism into the church, by total immersion, has been done in Badger Lake at Kennedy Park, at Twin Lakes and Storm Lake, even at the YMCA and in Webster City at Fuller Hall. One baptism was in a gravel pit, and Vinchattle once used a horse trough in Kansas.
''He baptized me in Dolliver Park,'' Dutcher said. Then he laughed.
And Vinchattle laughed, adding, ''You can find some pretty deep holes at Dolliver Park if you're not careful.''
The 83-year-old preacher didn't answer the call to ministry until he was 42 years old. Before that, he farmed and auctioneered. Once he answered the call, however, he took his faith cross country, stopping to preach wherever the spirit took him.
He recalls going to a church service just to worship and the church fathers looked at him and said, ''You're a preacher, aren't you?'' He nodded and got up to preach. That little church had been in danger of closing its doors and had prayed for a preacher to come to it and turn it to a new path. Vinchattle was the answer to their prayer, and he says now that the little church is making a comeback.
In his own churches, Vinchattle would ask people to ''come up and give their heart to Christ.'' His wife, LaVanne, sang a cappella, at these altar calls.
''We see Jesus with the eyes of heart,'' Vinchattle said, turning to his wife. ''Sing that.''
She immediately broke into a soft verse of ''Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, to see Jesus.''
Vinchattle nodded, a soft smile crossing his face. ''Baptism doesn't get you saved,'' he said. ''You have to ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart.''
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org