A Brief History of Crosscreek Baptist Church, 1975-1992

Prepared by Charlotte Aday, April 18, 1992

In the mid 1970’s the population of the Pelham area grew rapidly and the Shelby County Baptist Association soon saw the need for a place for people to worship and serve the Lord in Pelham. John Duncan, director of missions for the Shelby County Baptist Association, led the way in finding available land and financing. The down payment  was made by the Association and a loan from the Alabama Baptist Convention was obtained for the balance.  In the spring of 1975 a local survey was conducted in an attempt to reach area residents interested in starting a Baptist mission.  These people conducted a Bible study for several weeks and held an organizational meeting.

The University Baptist Church in Montevallo, Alabama and the Vestavia Hills Baptist Church of Vestavia Hills, Alabama both agreed to support and assist this new mission effort. The first worship service was held in Jim and Martha Blair’s garage on Creekview Drive in Pelham on June 15, 1975. Rev. George Steincross of University Baptist Church led the 18 people present in worship.

In September of 1975 a call was extended to Rev. Richard Wash to become the pastor of Crosscreek Trail Baptist Mission.  Dr. Wash, a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, had at that time been pastor of Cedar Hills Baptist Church in Brewton, Alabama for 4 and a half years. Richard moved with his wife Janice and their 4 sons to the area in October.  Richard delivered his first sermon on October 5 and conducted the first baptism in November of 1975.

In the next few months major strides were taken by the mission. Renamed Crosscreek Baptist Mission, the small group was able to move from the garage to a rented house adjacent to the purchased property.

Also at this time, the members, under Richard’s leadership, composed the church covenant and objectives.  This document reflected and established some important beliefs and attitudes which have continued to be important to this congregation. Among these beliefs is a commitment to an open membership.  Anyone seeking membership is accepted upon statement of faith and baptism; there is no vote taken.  Stewardship, evangelism, ministry and a commitment to a Christ-like life style are also key elements of the covenant.

In 1976 the mission held its first Vacation Bible School, along with Backyard Bible Clubs.  The library was established, construction was begun on the building and with the recommendation of David Noel, the first minister of music, the Irish Blessing was accepted as our Hymn of Parting.  A tutoring program was also suggested by David to meet a need he saw among the young people. This turned out to be a vital ministry among the youth of our community which has continued.

The mission began a child care program (Mother’s Day Out) in 1976.  This program, proposed and directed by an original member, Jan Baird, had a dual purpose: one of ministry to parents and their young children by providing a caring, Christian environment, and one of outreach, to bring people into contact with Crosscreek Baptist Mission. Due to its success it was soon expanded to 2 days a week.  In the fall of 1977, four and five year old kindergarten classes were added; later, a three year old program was added.

The first election of deacons was held in April of 1977 with the membership having set up policies and guidelines for the selection and role of deacons.  Among these was the acceptance of women as deacons, which the members believed was in accordance with New Testament belief and practice.

Construction continued in 1977 with the men of the congregation helping. Completion was accomplished by summer and on July 10 the building was dedicated.

The music worship expanded in 1977 with the gift of an organ. Debbie Noel was the first organist to enrich the worship services with her playing. The mission had been given a piano earlier and now in 1977, Cheryl Ramsey, a talented musician, came to be the pianist. Cheryl continued to bless the congregation with her playing, singing, and children’s choir leadership for ten years.

On the first Sunday in October, 1977, Crosscreek Baptist Church was constituted as an independent church.  Representatives from University Baptist Church in Montevallo and Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, the original sponsors of the mission, were present.

Attendance continued to grow and in May of 1978 the membership voted to sell $150,000 in bonds to finance a new educational building. This addition was ready for use in September of 1979; the dedication was held on Anniversary Sunday in October of 1979.

During this time of construction and growth, the church called Rev. Ed Snow to be Associate Pastor and Minister of Youth.  Rev. Snow, a graduate of the University of Montevallo and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, accepted the call in June of 1978, and was ordained to the gospel ministry on November 5, 1978. Since that time, Ed has served the congregation in a variety of ways;  a few of these are, leading the youth activities, serving as in the pastor’s absence, planning and directing “Leisure Timers” (activities for retired members) and serving as Minister of Music.

In an April business meeting in 1979 the church accepted a logo design submitted by member Terry Padgett. The design is composed of four fish symbols surrounding a circle which encloses a cross.

With the growth of membership and the physical facility, the child care program also grew.  In 1979 Beckie McRee became director of this ministry and has led the program through an expansion to a five day program in 1983, then into a full time day care provider with kindergarten in 1986. Recognizing the wear on the building caused by the increased traffic and use by the child care participants, this branch of ministry has contributed to the maintenance and improvement of the property. With a commitment to providing the best quality of care for the children, Beckie has been vital in establishing and maintaining a program which adheres to the original goals of ministry and outreach.

In 1980, the church purchased the remaining 1 and 1/4 acres of adjacent land, on which it had held an option since the original purchase.

As membership growth continued, the need for a larger worship area became apparent.  On June 5, 1983, the church implemented the “Dare to Build” program; members made a commitment to give above their tithe to finance the construction of an addition that included a larger sanctuary, a recreational room and extra classrooms.  Worshippers arrived for the 1983 Christmas Eve services minutes after church members finished installing the last pew.

The music ministry of Crosscreek has been blessed by a number of talented people, including David Noel, Jerry Bishop, Mike Lawrence, and Greg Hollis, who all served as part-time Ministers of Music. In 1982 the church was able to call a full-time Minister of Music and Youth, Gary Schaefer. Gary served for about 1 and 1/2 years.  When he left, Ed Snow took over the duties of Minister of Music. A talented musician, Ed had served in this capacity previously as the need arose.  Since assuming the lead in the music program, Ed has advanced his music education by attending classes at the University of Montevallo, where he finished requirements for a bachelor’s degree in music in May, 1992. Debbie Noel,  Bo Whittendon, Julie Murphree and Minonette Kline all have served as organists. The congregation has been blessed by Janice Snow’s ministry as organist and keyboard musician since 1984, and by Regina Rozsa’s service at the piano since 1987, when she assumed the position vacated by Cheryl Ramsey.

True to its covenant and objectives, Crosscreek Baptist Church has been involved in mission efforts in Shelby county, across the country and internationally.

In 1981 the staff initiated efforts in the growing Meadowbrook area of northern Shelby county to reach residents interested in starting a mission.  On May 3, 1981, Jerry Kline was called as pastor for the Meadowbrook Baptist Mission; Crosscreek Baptist Church paid his salary. In 1984, 2 larger churches, Mountain Brook Baptist Church and Brookwood Baptist Church, purchased land for the mission and took over the support of the mission. On February 10, 1985, Meadowbrook Baptist Church constituted as an independent church.

In August of 1985  a motion passed in the monthly business meeting to begin a ministry at Calvary Hill Baptist Church at Moore’s Crossoads,   Alabama.  It was renamed Crosscreek South and the staff of Crosscreek Baptist Church held services there each Sunday following services in the “home” church. In November, 1986, the mission called Rev. R. E. (Gene) Snow to serve as pastor; the Home Mission Board paid his salary. In 1987 the name was changed to Crossroads Baptist Mission and financial assistance was obtained from the Alabama Baptist Convention.   On September 23, 1990, Crossroads Baptist Church was constituted as an independent church.

In another effort to reach the local area, members Spruce and Georgeanne McRee, of Crosscreek Television Productions, made videos of the Sunday morning worship services and televised them on the local cable channel. The church membership helped in part to finance these productions. For about 1 and 1/2 years, starting in November of 1985, the worship services and other special events, including a number of musical presentations, were viewed by area residents.

Crosscreek’s staff and members have a long history of involvement in home and foreign missions.

In the area of home missions, pastors Richard Wash and Ed Snow led a revival in Hatcher Pass, Alaska; Richard also led a revival in Laramie, Wyoming through an associational partnership program. Later, Ed led a youth group on a mission trip also to Laramie where they led Backyard Bible Clubs and  Vacation Bible School.  As a result of the involvement in these areas and first-hand knowledge of needs, the church membership voted, in 1988, to send its Annie Armstrong Home Missions Offering to the Wyoming Baptist Convention and the Hatcher Pass Baptist Association of Alaska, dividing the offering evenly between the two groups.

When members Ken and Liz Sawyer moved to Plymouth, Indiana, they participated in the work of a young church there. Knowing the needs of that small congregation through communication with the Sawyers, Ed led the youth on two trips to Plymouth, again working with the Backyard Bible Club and Vacation Bible School formats.

Other youth mission endeavors have included trips to Baldwin County in south Alabama, and to Cherokee, North Carolina, leading worship programs in parks and campgrounds. In the summers the youth have participated in Backyard Bible Clubs within Shelby County.

Direct mission efforts on foreign fields started in 1983 when Dr. Wash participated in a “Partnership with Nigeria” program through the Foreign Mission Board.  Richard’s trip was approved by church vote, as were later trips to British Guiana,  Australia, Hong Kong and Korea.  The Crosscreek membership was blessed by Charles and Betty Sands, missionaries to Korea, who spent a year as members at Crosscreek in 1983-1984, while “Charlie” took a one year leave of absence to teach at Samford University.  They returned to Korea and were later visited by Richard and Janice Wash who worked with them in their endeavors. In 1992, Charlie and Betty were led to move their ministry to China.  The Crosscreek congregation has truly been blessed by these two; contact with them has led to an enlightened and continued interest in missions around the world.

In an effort to minister to an observed need, the church voted in September, 1983, to participate in a “Medical Apartment Ministry” organized by the Birmingham Baptist Association.  This was a ministry to non-resident families who were in Birmingham while loved ones were in local hospitals. Crosscreek Baptist helped furnish and maintain an apartment for several years.  Also in the area of local ministry, the church family participated in a monthly “food in-gathering” which was distributed through the Shelby County Department of Human Resources.

Under the stress of a large building mortgage, in February, 1989, the church applied to the First American Bank for refinancing and it was granted.  In 1988 the Alabama Baptist Convention was petitioned to change the status of the debt incurred  in the original purchase of land, to a grant status, thereby absolving the amount still owed.  This was granted.

Major change came to Crosscreek Baptist Church in the last months of 1990, when Dr. Richard Wash announced his application to the Foreign Mission Board with hopes of serving in Hong Kong. His resignation was received on January 27, 1991 and was effective after the morning service of February 17, 1991.  In March of 1991 Dr. Fisher Humphreys accepted the position of Interim Pastor.

On March 15, 1992, the resignation of Beckie McRee as director of the Child Development Center was announced to the church.  She will remain in the position while the church searches for a replacement and she and her family will continue to serve and worship in the Crosscreek family as they have for many years.

On April 12, 1992, after several meetings and listening to two sermons, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to accept the pastor search committee’s recommendation of Dr. Jerry Curry as the new pastor. Dr. Curry, an experienced pastor, is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Luther Rice Seminary in Jacksonville,  Florida, with post-doctoral study at Oxford University in  Oxford,  England. The church celebrated as he accepted the call and started his ministry immediately.

Crosscreek Baptist Church is a congregation that blends tradition and innovation.  While it is a Bible-oriented, theologically conservative fellowship, Crosscreek realizes that its practical application of its faith would be considered liberal by a majority of Southern Baptists.  The fellowship treasures its traditions that have developed: the churchwide Thanksgiving Dinner, Anniversary Dinner on the grounds, swimming pool baptisms, the Lottie Moon Chrismas Auction and others.  Flexibility and innovation are also encouraged and sought, as seen in the variety of ways the Lord’s Supper is celebrated, in the churchwide talent shows, outdoor services, and in the diverse activities planned for the different groups within the church.