Barbara Gunn 

  • Restoration- We all know the need for wholeness and seek to create an environment in which all can find restoration through relationship with one another and the Divine.
  • Affirming the worth of every person – We want to embody a community in which everyone belongs and has equal value. Every voice matters in God’s kingdom.

Walking into Crosscreek, you will see a diverse group of people mingling together. The makeup of the group isn’t important because we’re just family visiting before the morning worship service starts. The environment is warm and inviting. What I see in Crosscreek in 2022 is in stark contrast to what Calvin and I saw many years ago.   As we walked into a Baptist church near the University of Alabama’s campus, we were greeted by unfriendly faces and made to feel very unwelcomed in God’s house. The environment felt distant and hostile. We did not feel the love of Christ in that church.

A few years later as a young couple with a new baby, we joined a church in Birmingham expecting to experience church life like what we had grown up with back in Tuscaloosa and Livingston.  Instead, we encountered the same unfriendly people, who made us feel unimportant and unloved. We were not willing to travel to Birmingham every Sunday to be made to feel unwelcomed, so we didn’t attend church much.

We started attending Crosscreek because of a spring snowstorm.

We started attending Crosscreek because of a spring snowstorm. The area churches had cancelled services because of the weather. We were invited to Crosscreek by a work colleague of Calvin who did not attend the church but knew people who were members of the church. We were skeptical because of our college experience. On our first visit to Crosscreek we saw a roaring fire in the fireplace and welcoming faces. After the service we were greeted by very friendly people and invited to come back. During the early years of Crosscreek the adults were the only worship leaders of the service, and the youth and children were not very involved unless it was after vacation bible school or a special musical play. Today Crosscreek has evolved into a church where all ages of people are actively engaged in the worship experience.

Even though I love my view of Crosscreek, there are more ways that we can be more intentional about being an authentic church community. We could be more conscious about the way we interact with each other during and after church. We could ask questions such as: do you have any special prayer needs for this upcoming week or how have things been going for you this past week? We need to make people feel that we are interested in their lives away from church. We would see people more available and willing to help each other. Since we live in a country with many “hot” button issues we would see people learning to listen to another person’s point of view. When we feel mentally abused and misunderstood, we would be more forgiving and quicker to seek reconciliation. To be a more authentic church community we must be willing to let our guard down and become more vulnerable to each other. We would actively seek out opportunities to get to know each other better.   

There are several things that we can do to increase the likelihood of Crosscreek being an authentic church community. At the end of worship service, instead of rushing out, we could slow down and mingle more. We could stop being superficial with our interactions with each other. We should take a chance and invite others into the rhythm of our lives.  An example would be me inviting someone to walk with me since I enjoy walking at the park. Some of us are retirees and we could be more available to visit church members who are unable to get out of the house or run errands for them. We could all aim to have a more teachable spirit, because we could learn a lot from each other. We should also be more willing to forgive each other when misunderstandings occur because that is what happens when you are in an authentic community made up of people with different experiences. This will lead us to being more vulnerable to each other.

It is our prayer that we as Crosscreekers not settle for being anything less than an honest, supportive, forgiving, vulnerable, friendly and loving authentic church community.