Calvin "Cal" John Rychener g81
Calvin J. Rychener came to Fort Wayne Bible College (FWBC) in 1977 from Archbold, Ohio as the seventh of 10 children in the Lloyd and Marie Rychener family, one known for its vital Christian faith and superb athleticism.
A three-sport athlete at Archbold High School, Cal lettered two years in cross-country, four years in track & field, and three years in basketball. His junior year his mile relay team went to state, but round ball remained his first love. That same year his hoops squad won the tough North West Ohio Athletic League, while his senior year they went 20-3, finally bowing out in a tough overtime game on the regional level. In both his junior and senior years Cal was an All-Ohio Honorable Mention selection for his exploits on the hard court.
Cal points to the influence of a Sunday school teacher that led him to make a commitment to Christ while just in third grade—his actual decision came while talking to a friend in a local park during a public school art class! Baptism followed in fifth grade. A powerful sermon and invitation by his pastor, Charles Zimmerman of the Archbold Evangelical Mennonite Church, helped seal his call to ministry when Cal was still 17. Then the quiet, behind the scenes support of layman Ray Rupp proved critical time and again as Cal began seven years of formal education for ministry, first at FWBC, then in seminary.
Cal’s sister, Betty Jane (Rychener) Rahrer g87 would follow him to FWBC in 1982, but precede him in election to the Taylor University Fort Wayne Athletic Hall of Fame, first as a dominant multi-sport athlete (2008), then as a member of the phenomenal 1985 Women’s Volleyball Team (2009).
While attending FWBC, Cal majored in Pastoral Ministries, courted his future wife, Susan Diane Patrick, who also graduated in 1981 (with a degree in Elementary Education), and soon established himself as the outstanding basketball player of his era. He led the Falcons in scoring and rebounding all four years he played (1977-1981), was an NCCAA II First Team All-District choice all four years, was named the school’s Most Valuable Player his junior and senior years, and was honored as an NCCAA II All-American his final season, becoming the second All-American in campus history, after Todd Habegger.
In his freshman year (1977-1978) Cal played in 26 games (the team went 8-19, with one loss a forfeit), scored 434 points (16.6 avg.), pulled down 184 rebounds (7.0 avg.), and tallied 60 assists. One early highlight occurred when he made the Turkey Tournament (FWBC, Indiana Tech, IPFW, Saint Francis) All-Tournament Team just a few games into his college career.
The next year (1978-1979) was the best of his collegiate career in terms of team accomplishments, the only one with a winning record (15-14). The Falcons swept through a tough three-game district play-off at Maranatha Baptist College in Watertown, Wisconsin and made it all the way to the NCCAA II National Tournament in Springfield, Missouri. They finished fourth at nationals, exactly where they had been seeded. Cal played all 29 games, tabulating 426 pts. (14.6 avg.), 234 rebounds (8.0 avg.), and 66 assists.
Cal’s junior year (1979-1980) he lined up in 27 games (8-19 team record), racking up 522 pts. (19.3 avg.), 232 rebounds (8.5 avg.), and 55 assists.
The team record during his senior year was rather disappointing (4-17), though Cal kept up his torrid attack on the record book, finishing 21 games with 428 pts. (20.3 avg.), 136 rebounds (6.4 avg.), and 44 assists. There was one final moment of redemption, however, when the Falcons pulled off a huge upset, pounding top-ranked (in the North Central Christian Athletic Conference) Grand Rapids Baptist College (today Cornerstone University), beating them 109-91, with Cal pouring in 44 points. The Falcons then won their next game by 34 before finishing the season with a loss.
Over four years Calvin had played in 103 games (35-69 team record), finishing third (at that time) on the all-time scoring list with 1810 points, trailing only Peter Strubhar and Todd Habegger. Along the way Cal had also grabbed 786 rebounds and handed out 225 assists.
Calvin made an impact at FWBC in the classroom as well. He garnered the Sermon Award his junior year, a portent of things to come, and in his final year, he was elected to Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges and to the Delta Epsilon Chi scholastic honor society.
After graduating with his M.Div. (with a minor in Missions) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1985, Cal took his first pastorate at the (then) Grabill Evangelical Mennonite Church in Grabill, Indiana.
Five years later, in March of 1990, Cal and his family moved to Peoria, Illinois, where they planted Northwoods Community Church, a congregation that has since grown to over 3,600 in 20 years, becoming the largest church in the Peoria area. This Easter they are starting their first multi-site congregation in Galesburg, Illinois.
Cal has remained active in other venues as well. A long-time Green Bay Packers fan, he was a guest chaplain for the team for five years (2003-2007), a connection he still maintains to some degree. He has also traveled overseas repeatedly. Early on it was to the Dominican Republic, where his denomination has a long-standing outreach. More recently he has represented both John Maxwell with EQUIP training in Brazil (some six visits from 2008 through 2010) and the Willow Creek Association, with Northwoods Community Church sponsoring huge training events in Brazil. More recently Cal has traveled through parts of Africa in conjunction with the Franklin Graham ministry, Samaritan’s Purse.
Many have noticed Cal’s gifts for spiritual leadership, and he has received repeated recognition for his efforts, including selection as Peoria’s Outstanding Young Religious Leader in 1993, one of Peoria’s 40 Leaders under Forty in 1997, and Taylor University Fort Wayne’s Distinguished Alumnus for Professional Achievement in 2005.
In all this Cal remains very humble and grateful to those who have guided and supported him along the way, from his family and fellow church members back in hometown, Archbold, to his wife Susan, and their five children, Kathryn Rogers (b. 1986), Jonathon (b. 1988), Christopher (b./d. 1989), Victoria (b. 1992), and Nathan (b. 1994).