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Crossroads United Methodist Church takes care of those near and far

March 31st, 2014 7:14 pm by Leigh Ann Laube

Crossroads United Methodist Church takes care of those near and far

Crossroads United Methodist Church began in 1933 as West View Park Methodist Episcopal Church South and, after changing names a few times, was known as Stone Drive United Methodist Church beginning in 1968. Contributed photo.

In late October 1929, a group of 125 residents stood at a crossroads of faith and decided to organize a new church. Four years later, West View Park Methodist Episcopal Church South opened its doors under founding pastor, the Rev. Dr. Sullins Dosser.

West View Park changed names a few times during the next six decades, and was known as Stone Drive United Methodist Church beginning in 1968. In 1994, the congregation of Stone Drive United Methodist Church found itself at another crossroads — highway expansion was encroaching on the church property, parking was inadequate and the community was projected to decline in population during the next 20 years.

So the Stone Drive congregation voted to become the core congregation of a new church, Crossroads United Methodist Church.

Located on 14 acres on Bays Cove Trail in the Allandale community, Crossroads is planted at the crossroads of two major roads, between municipalities, near two county borders, and near the Tennessee/Virginia line.

The last worship service at Stone Drive United Methodist was Sept. 27, 1998. The first worship service at Crossroads UMC was held on Oct. 4, 1998, with the Rev. Mark Fleenor. That day may have been Alice Clark's first visit — "The church was full. It was wonderful and you felt so welcomed. We've been here almost every Sunday since," she said — but her ties to the church go way back. Clark's uncle, the Rev. Lewis Turner, served as minister of West View Park Methodist from 1950 to 1955.

Though the Stone Drive congregation had accepted that changes were necessary, it was difficult to move.

"The congregation went through kind of a grieving process," said longtime member Sherry Renfro. "They knew the church was not a physical building, but a body of believers. But, it was a grieving process having to move from home."

To further connect the two churches, Crossroads has Stone Drive's steeple, bell, cross and stained-glass window.

In June 2008, Randy Lantz was appointed pastor of Crossroads. Lantz, a former AFG employee (now AGC), was called to the ministry at the age of 55. He previously served at Fudge's Chapel United Methodist Church in Surgoinsville.

Several years ago, Lantz posed this question to his congregation: "If Crossroads disappeared off the face of the Earth tomorrow, would anyone other than ourselves miss us?"

"Back then, I would have said, 'Probably not.' Today, I would say 'Yes,'" Lantz said. "The thing that makes my job easier is I have lots and lots of folks willing to give of their time and resources."

Since 2008, the church has increased its mission and outreach efforts. It participates with other Methodist churches in the Terrific Tuesdays children's ministry, and sends volunteers once a month to the Washington County Jail for service projects. One Saturday a month, volunteers serve at the Salvation Army. The church stocks a food pantry and clothes pantry, which is opened from 10 a.m. to noon, every Thursday. Members of the Girlfriends ministry collect fleece blankets that are used on the pediatrics floor at Holston Valley Medical Center; knit caps for premature babies and oncology patients at Holston Valley; and collect backpacks to be distributed to children at Holston United Methodist Home for Children in Greeneville.

The congregation delivers snacks and drinks to local oncology and radiology patients, and donates food on a monthly basis to the Light House Ministry Center in Elkhorn City, Ky. They partner with Washington Elementary School students in a reading program and, in turn, those students have collected food and clothes for the church.

The congregation supports a Methodist missionary in Turkey and is involved in the Kairos Prison Ministry. The church has a bread ministry and the congregation delivers homemade bread to nearby neighborhoods. It's planning to host an Easter party for residents of the nearby Holly Hills Apartments complex.

"We want to be an Acts 1:8 church. We want to take care of those close by, then go out overseas," Lantz said. "The idea is we need to come in here and be built up, hopefully through the service, then go out ... and show the love of Christ to others."

Lantz and others say Crossroads is attracting a younger generation of church-goers. They look to the praise band as an example. The 16-member band has members ranging in age from 14 to 65. The youth group has about 10 active members.

Crossroads holds Sunday worship services at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. There are adult and youth Sunday school classes and a nursery. On Wednesday nights, there's a meal before Bible study.

"It's a fun fellowship, but we're serving with a purpose," said Renfro, who was born into the West View Park congregation and baptized there. "That's the only way you're going to reach families in this day and time. We know the problems our families are facing, our kids are facing, and we're trying to make a safe haven."

It's a safe haven shepherded by Lantz. "Anybody we reach out to, anybody who comes in the doors of this building, my goal is to bring them to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ the spirit or, if they have a relationship, bring them closer."

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