Southern Baptists coming to Phoenix
for Crossover 2011 will aid an oasis of local churches Saturday, June 11, in
ministering to the spiritual thirst in their communities.
Crossover will mark its 23rd year as the key evangelistic outreach event prior
to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, slated June 14-15 in Phoenix.
Dozens of congregations will join volunteers — from Arizona
and across the nation — at 70 ministry venues throughout the Phoenix-Tucson
corridor, a 120-mile stretch encompassing 5.2 million residents. The North
American Mission Board (NAMB) is working with the local Crossover coordinating
team to provide volunteers with opportunities to share the love of Christ as
they participate in block parties, prayerwalking excursions, Intentional
Community Evangelism outreach projects and acts of kindness.
“We’re excited about getting our churches into the streets and sharing the
Gospel with our community,” said Jerry Martin, associational missionary for the
Valley Rim Baptist Association and Crossover coordinator for the Arizona
Southern Baptist Convention.
“We want to be a presence in our communities and begin to make a difference in
unreached places,” Martin said in asking Southern Baptists to pray for Arizona
Baptists as they prepare for the June outreach.
What makes this year’s Crossover events unique to the decades-long tradition is
that it will directly impact and strengthen 10 new churches that are just starting
in the five Baptist associations of the Phoenix-Tucson corridor — Central,
Estralla, Valley Rim, Gila and Catalina Baptist associations.
“We are so delighted that our (SBC) family
is coming out,” said Steve Bass, executive
director for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention. “Our people had a great
experience in 2003 and they’re absolutely looking forward to this. I think all
up and down the line we are grateful for Southern Baptists who come and help
engage the harvest field.”
Crossover will help existing churches identify and engage their neighborhoods,
Bass added. The event also will help spread the word about the new church
plants, many of which are only beginning to form relationships and core groups
in their communities.
“Many of our churches need to be introduced or reintroduced to their
neighborhoods. Crossover makes that happen,” Bass said. “Pastors and churches
need encouragement. To have the Southern Baptist family come and walk with them
in their neighborhoods or work with them at a block party is incredibly
encouraging. It’s absolutely a blessing to us.”
New church starts participating in Crossover 2011 in Phoenix
are Valley Life
Church with pastor Brian Bowman; Symbiotic
Church with pastor Dennis Conner;
International Baptist Ministries Fellowship with pastor Yaw Poku; and El Puente
Church with pastor Armando Barraza.
Other church starts in the area that are participating are Vintage Church in
Tucson with pastor Tommy Russell; Community Church of Red Rock with pastor
Jimmie Woods; Mission Point Baptist Fellowship in Chandler with pastor Bill
May; International Baptist Ministries Fellowship in Gilbert with pastor Yaw
Poku; Silent Hope Ministries, a church to the deaf in Mesa with pastor Jeremy
Fass; Seyenna Vista Apartments Church in Mesa with pastor Louis Spears; and New
Jerusalem Missionary in El Mirage with pastor Clarence Bradley.
“We have 30,000 homes in this area with no church around,” said Bowman of the
new Valley Life
Church. Sent in January by the
Mullins Baptist Association in Oklahoma,
Bowman is in the beginning stages of developing a core group, with plans to
make a splash during Crossover in local shopping centers and neighborhoods.
Church will not officially launch
until next year, but Bowman hopes Crossover will provide follow-up
opportunities that will prove crucial to a successful start.
“Our challenge is getting our name out there and gaining exposure,” Bowman
said. “At Crossover we’re able to take over this huge parking lot in the
community of Norterra. We’ll be giving away movie tickets. We’ll have bounce
houses and a block party at this shopping center.”
NAMB church planting missionary Louis Spears noted that one in three residents
in greater Phoenix lives in
multifamily housing communities that are closed to door-to-door witnessing. And
only 3 percent ever leave their communities to attend church. The Valley Rim
Baptist Association has made it a priority to start churches in such settings.
Steve Bass also highlighted the vibrant work
among the international communities, including ministry among Hispanics and
“Our Hispanic ministries are leading the way in gathering volunteers and
casting vision for reaching Spanish speakers,” Bass said.
Among the multi-ethnic Crossover events will be outreach efforts and block
parties hosted by 16 of the state’s 23 Hispanic churches. The group will gather
Sunday, June 5, for a Hispanic rally of local churches, spend the week doing
outreach to Spanish speakers, finish with block parties throughout the city and
hold a celebration of the week’s successes during the weekend before the SBC
Bass noted some challenges as well.
“One challenge is having an outdoor event in June in Phoenix,”
he said, alluding to the sweltering heat. “Another challenge is that while we
are the largest evangelical group in Arizona, we’re not the only religious
group here spreading their message. We have to distinguish ourselves from the
LDS (Latter-day Saints) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses who also go door to door
and have a huge influence out here.
“You never make a clear presentation of the Gospel in a vacuum,” Bass added.
“You’re always presenting over and against competing views.”
Since its beginning in 1989 in Las Vegas,
Crossover has provided Southern Baptists an opportunity to collectively shine
light in communities across North America as equipped
churches and incoming volunteers mobilize to encourage each other and make
“I hope thousands of Southern Baptists arrive early for the convention this
year to participate in Crossover,” said Kevin Ezell, president of the North
American Mission Board. “What’s so exciting is that after we leave, the new
churches we’re helping will be reaching people for Christ and making disciples
for years to come. I’m thankful that Steve Bass
at the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention and the local associations near Phoenix
are making church planting such a priority for Crossover this year.”
To learn more about Crossover 2011, visit www.crossover2011.org. To assist new
church plants in the Phoenix area, visit www.churchplantingvillage.net/crossover2011.
For those unable to travel to Arizona
this summer, Southern Baptists can join in an online prayer community at
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Miller is a writer for the North American Mission Board.)
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