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Hands Up

The History of

Calvary Chapel
Des Moines

A Little History...

Who we are - how we began - where we see God moving us.

Prodigal Son

In July of 1976, at a small FourSquare church, the Highway Chapel, in Forest City , IA, Wayne Goranson had made a profession of faith at the age of 18. This was the summer before his freshman year in college. Wayne experienced a release of guilt and a peace he had never felt before, but he was neither discipled nor encouraged to be in the Word, fellowship and prayer.

Growing up in the 70s in a small town, sex, drugs and rock & roll were very much a part of his life. Living for himself and the experience of the thrill personified his life. Ten days passed and with the persistence of his friends, Wayne dove head first back into his lifestyle with more zeal than before. The door was opened wide for 13 more years of decadence.

In God’s sovereignty, Wayne ’s bride of five years, Brooke, left him. Life had taken him from Iowa, to Arizona, to Texas and finally California. Wayne began to read a Bible given to him by his brother, listen to Christian radio and go to Malibu Presbyterian Church. In God’s grace, He began to impress upon Wayne that he was a fool because he had no fear of the Lord.

In June 1989 Wayne totally submitted his life to the Lord Jesus. Brooke moved back into the house, saw that her husband had been transformed and committed her life to the service of the Lord two months later at Calvary Chapel Seal Beach. The rest is history. They dove head first into their new passion of getting to know their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They served at CCSB in various ministries and unknown to them at the time, the Lord was preparing them for church planting.


Simple Beginnings


So in July 1995 The Goranson's (Wayne, Brooke, Marillyn, Eric), D.A. & Debbie Haworth, Maria Romero (later to become Mrs. Weeks), and Eric Weeks began to meet in their home on Lincoln Way in Des Moines. In the fall of that year they started renting the Camp Fire headquarters on Hickman Road, and Heartland Christian Fellowship (HCF) was born. Within the year, they outgrew the facility and started to meet at Hillis Elementary School just down the street. For almost 4 years they were a church on wheels; setting up and tearing down every Sunday and Wednesday, longing for a facility to call our own. 

After a while Wayne and D.A. gave up and just believed the Lord would provide in His time. Wayne ’s barber told him about a little white church on the northeast side of Des Moines. So they contacted the owner – David Goodwin, Pastor of Christian Life Church . They struck up a deal and Easter 2000 was the first service in the new facility. 

In 2000 four families approached Wayne about starting a verse by verse Bible study in Panora , IA located about 40 miles west of Des Moines. For about 6 months Wayne and D.A. traveled to Panora every Wednesday to teach through the book of Acts. At this time the study was growing and many were coming into Des Moines on Sunday mornings. The people were in need of a pastor that could give them more personal attention. Wayne and D.A. prayed and D.A. took over the study, moved his family to Panora and continues even today ministering to the needs of this and surrounding communities through Calvary Chapel of the Raccoon River Valley

In 2006 the Lord began to stir in Pastor Wayne’s heart a desire to move on from the pastorate of HCF: to plant a work in Des Moines and turn it over to a native Des Moinian. Wayne and Brooke’s desire was to come alongside their son-in-law, Jon and daughter, Marillyn in ministry. 


Brent Fees and his wife, Tracey, had been attending HCF for a few years and was involved with the Youth Ministry and helping out as God led him. They began a Bible study in their home on the South side of Des Moines. Desiring to become a Pastor and fulfill God’s calling on him, he thought the Lord would want them to start a work on that side of town. Wayne shared his vision with Brent in 2007 and asked him to pray about moving on to the church property to see if the Lord would grant him favor to take over the fellowship. They moved and soon won the hearts of the people they would soon be ministering to, and Brent was ordained in 2007. 

In the meantime, Wayne had been working part-time and full-time for a local home builder since 1998. They approached Wayne in December 2007 about possibly entertaining the idea of starting a division in Costa Rica, Central America . There were a group of investors that wanted to finance a construction company to build retirement and vacation rental properties. Wayne visited that month and fell in love with the country. In January 2008 Brooke, Jon and Marillyn all joined Wayne for a visit to see if this might be the place to minister to the Costa-Rican people.  While in Costa Rica in 2008 they prayed about starting a horse rescue and using the rehabilitated horses to minister to at-risk kids. They had their eyes on Albuquerque, NM, but the Lord had other plans, and sent them to Ojojona, Honduras and started a ministry called Rancho Oasis for Youth in 2010 doing the exact same thing. 

More To Come

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Leaving HCF into the hands of Pastor Brent Fees and Assistant Pastor Josh Glosser, the Lord was working on Brent’s heart to see HCF grow and minister to even more people in the Des Moines area. It was when several people who were wheelchair bound couldn’t use the facility for lack of access. It grieved Brent that some people couldn’t be ministered to and were hindered from attending because of our church building; to the point where he approached the Elders with the idea of moving somewhere better. Through prayer, they prayed for someone to buy the church, parsonage, and tiny house on the property, while we searched out another location. Shortly after, that prayer was answered in 2011. 

It was a nervous time for HCF. Moving out of a building to look for another one, we felt as though we were back at Hillis Elementary School having Sunday services in a community center – setting up and tearing down every night. But the closer we came to finding a home, the more exciting it was to see God work. 

Through divine providence, the Lord gave us more than we could ever ask for in our current facility at 606 East 9th Street. We moved in April of 2012, and held our first service the week after Easter on April 15, 2012. The new building has wheelchair access on both levels as well as an elevator, plenty of classrooms with dividers to expand, and right in the heart of the city. It was a dream come true and a fresh new start. It was the end of an era as Heartland Christian Fellowship, and the start of a new one as Calvary Chapel Des Moines. 

The story of this little church and this group of people is about God’s faithfulness to those that diligently seek Him. More important than a building are the people. Many souls have come through the doors of HCF since the humble beginnings on Lincoln Way in 1995. Many lives have been changed. We always knew that HCF would never be a church of thousands, but that the people from HCF would impact thousands. People from this fellowship have gone to start churches in Arizona, Colorado, and Uganda; as well as missions in Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, and others. 

The race does not go to the swift nor the fight to the strong, but to those who wait on the Lord, trust in His faithfulness, and obediently venture out on this adventure we call life. The leadership at HCF and as Calvary Chapel Des Moines, have always desired to be used by God to equip the saints for the work of ministry and edify the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11–12). 

Come join us, and together we will inspire the world to walk with God. 

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