By Dave Cover
We’re not big on celebrating anniversaries at The Crossing. It’s just not our style. Add a pandemic and you get why nobody has bothered to mention that this summer marks The Crossing’s twenty-year anniversary. But we should stop, take a breath, and remember all that God has done in and through our story together. Here’s an abridged version of the history of The Crossing.
The Crossing’s Beginning
It was 1997 when a pastor at Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis asked me if I wanted to start a new church in Columbia. We were having lunch in St. Louis while I was getting my Master of Divinity degree from Covenant Seminary. I was commuting while also directing the ministry of CRU (a campus ministry) here at Mizzou.
By 1999, some people from Central had started a new church in Kirkwood called Greentree Community Church. Their new pastor and I began to have regular meetings to discuss how Greentree and Central could partner together to start a Columbia church after I graduated from seminary that year.
I was excited because a long-time friend of mine graduating from seminary with me agreed to start this new church with me as pastors. But a couple months out from launching The Crossing, he took another position at another church. I didn’t really blame him. A bird in the hand kind of thing. Who knew whether this new church would really get off the ground?
But I was bummed.
That weekend Keith Simon called me from his home in Chicago. I first met Keith in January of 1987. A friend of his brought him to a Bible study I was leading with CRU. Keith became a student leader in CRU, then eventually joined our staff for a few years before leaving for seminary in Chicago. But now he had become an assistant pastor at Naperville Presbyterian Church near Chicago, having graduated from seminary a year earlier.
I told him of my disappointment that my friend had changed his mind. Then I asked, “Do you know of anybody that would want to start this church with me?” He quickly said, “Yeah, me!”
By the summer of 2000 the funding had come together and so had our full-time staff team of me, Keith, Scott Johnson (a worship leader Keith worked with in Naperville), and Rachel Tiemeyer (a student I knew in CRU just graduating from Mizzou).
We had our team. Now we just needed a congregation.
So we spread word around town that we were starting a new church. We had lunches and dinners with anyone willing to meet with us. Coming to a church that didn’t exist yet was kind of hard to sell.
We figured the best way to start was just to start. One small thing we needed was a place to have church. We found a room in the Memorial Union at Mizzou. There, we wheeled our big plastic tubs filled with a little church, set up our sound system, laptop and projector, our little table for free donuts and coffee, and somehow people came. We grew about 10% every week. Within two months we were needing a bigger place to meet.
It just so happened that the principal at Rock Bridge High School started attending. He set up a lunch with the teacher in charge of the large auditorium at Rock Bridge, with its roughly 460 seats. A lot was riding on her Yes or No. She politely shook our hands and we all sat down for lunch. As she later recounted to us, she came to the lunch already decided she was NOT going to approve our request, but by the end of our lunch she heard herself saying Yes to us. Strange.
We met at Rock Bridge on the first Sunday of August 2000, just two months after starting the church. We had 70 people and 390 empty seats. It was a little embarrassing, but then our growth exploded. Eventually we needed three services on Sunday mornings, but by 2004 we would come to need still more space.
Looking for a Place to Build
We had found a great piece of land off Green Meadows, but it was really expensive. We waited a day too long to put an offer on it, and we lost it to another buyer (it’s now a subdivision). I remember saying to Keith in our disappointment, “I know God is sovereign, but I also know we’re idiots. And the idiots lost out.” I was wrong, of course. Not about our being idiots. But about why we lost out. The “God is sovereign” part caused us to lose out because something better was coming.
It just so happened that Shay’s cousin was a realtor who happened to know of a new parcel of land just up for sale along a new road being built to be called Grindstone Parkway. The new option was more acreage for a third of the price! The idiots found their land!
Phase one of our building was completed the summer of 2006, then phase two between 2012-2014. Each phase was a huge financial stretch for a congregation always a lot smaller than what we were building for. But people joined together in generosity at each phase because they wanted us to have room for anyone and everyone God wanted to bring.
Even during this current, unprecedented time in our church’s (and world’s) history, we have continued to witness God’s sovereignty and grace.
And the story continues. Now what will we do together?
Whether you’re new to The Crossing or you’ve been attending since the very beginning, your story is an important piece of both our church’s history and future.
We want to hear those stories! Leave a reply below and share your own story of how you came to attend The Crossing and how your life has since been impacted.