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Crossings Community Church marks 60th anniversary

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Crossings Community Church, 14600 N Portland, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]
Crossings Community Church, 14600 N Portland, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

When a member invited him to sit in on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in 1985, the Rev. Marty Grubbs didn't know what to expect.

He was intrigued by what he found — a group of people humbly admitting their failures and their need for help, while supporting and celebrating one another at the same time.

"It hit me that this is what the church should be doing: Those of you who are strong, bear with the failings of the weak. Confess your sins to one another so that you may be healed," he said, quoting Scripture.

Memories of that experience recently rose to the surface as Grubbs discussed the 60th anniversary of Crossings Community Church, where he is senior pastor.

The church was started as Westridge Hills Church of God at 2600 NW 55 on an Easter Sunday in March 1959 in Oklahoma City. The church that began with 55 people has a membership that swelled to 9,000 over six decades. Crossings' main church building is the heart of a sprawling complex at 14600 N Portland, and the church has satellite locations in Edmond and at Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington.

Grubbs said he was the church's new pastor back in 1985 when he attended that AA meeting at a member's invitation. Three years later, he preached a sermon series based on the 12-Step program that forms the basis of AA.

He said some people were shocked that a preacher would deliver that type of message on a Sunday morning.

"I think there were some traditions that just didn't see the 12-Steps fitting into a biblical sermon," Grubbs said.

Some attendees may have been surprised by the sermons, but most of them came back and they brought others with them.

Grubbs, 60, said that series touched a nerve with a lot of people in a good way, and the church began to grow exponentially.

"We look back at that as the spark that lit the fire that became the bonfire," he said during a recent interview.

Answered prayers

He said the church had grown to about 175 members when he became its leader, and they had a master plan to build a new sanctuary on their property at NW 55 and N Linn Avenue. Grubbs said the new sanctuary seated 450 when it was completed in 1988, the year his 12-step sermon series launched.

"I remembered walking in and I said, 'Oh Lord, let me see it full,' " he said.

His prayer was answered just a year later. By 1989, the congregation had doubled in size, and the church was holding five services. Nestled in a neighborhood, Grubbs said the neighbors were concerned about the traffic because people attending the growing church were parking on neighborhood streets.

Grubbs said the congregation began talking about splitting the church due to its fast-growing pace, but decided against it. Instead of dividing up, they moved to their current 77-acre property, where they had room to grow. Grubbs said the church had its grand opening on the Portland Avenue property on Labor Day 1999. By then the church's name had been changed from Westridge to Belle Isle Community Church, but the church chose its current name at the time of the move to the Portland location.

He said some people thought the decision to move to the outer reaches of the city was questionable, but it was the right thing to do, and it wasn't that far away. There just wasn't much in that area of the Memorial Road/Kilpatrick Turnpike corridor at that time, other than Mercy Hospital down the road on Meridian Avenue.

"It's six miles (from the church at NW 55 and Linn), but it felt far way at the time because there was nothing else out here," Grubbs said.

The preacher said he never imagined that Crossings would become one of the biggest megachurches in a metro area that has more than a few of them. The church is the largest of 2,200 congregations across the U.S. and Canada affiliated with the Church of God faith movement based in Anderson, Indiana.

Grubbs said he never dreamed that the congregation would enthusiastically support the opening and continued operation of Crossings Community Center, 10255 N Pennsylvania, which includes a free medical/dental clinic and after-school program for local public school students, among other things. And he didn't foresee the addition of Crossings Christian School, a private Christian school that opened at the Crossings' Portland location in 2001.

"I still cannot believe this is our reality," Grubbs said.

He might not have envisioned it all on the day he decided to lead the church, but Grubbs said he's proud of the church's staff and members who have taken Crossings' mission to heart: "Being available to help the least of us among us."

The church doesn't acquire debt for any of the projects it undertakes, and this is possible because members give generously of their money, time and talents, he said.

"I don't think we were given the resources to hoard them," Grubbs said. "Those are given to be given back."

A look back

On March 31, the church held "Celebration Sunday," to begin its yearlong 60th anniversary celebration. The special day included opportunities for members to see a walk-through history exhibit telling Crossings’ 60-year story. Grubbs said the exhibit will be featured throughout the building for some time, giving church members and visitors opportunities to view the display cases featuring church bulletins, vintage photos, sermon cassette tapes and other memorabilia.

The pictures and other items show how Crossings has evolved over six decades. He said the music and the types of church buildings changed for the modern-day church, and Crossings was no exception.

However, Grubbs said it's important to note that one important thing has remained the same throughout the years, though much about Crossings and the church as a whole has changed: Crossings has kept its focus on Christ.

It's something that makes him happy when he walks through the halls of the church on any given day or evening and sees people from different generations engaging in Bible study or taking part in activities for youths, Celebrate Recovery or the CareSeries classes and support groups offered by the church's LifeCare ministry.

"I truly believe we have been able to keep Jesus at the center," Grubbs said. "My greatest fear would be as a church to lose that — and I'm glad that we haven't."

Related Photos
<strong>The Rev. Marty Grubbs sits in the atrium at Crossings Community Church, where he is senior pastor. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]</strong>

The Rev. Marty Grubbs sits in the atrium at Crossings Community Church, where he is senior pastor. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-5745a3b6cbc398e82dff5f51d69542c9.jpg" alt="Photo - The Rev. Marty Grubbs sits in the atrium at Crossings Community Church, where he is senior pastor. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" The Rev. Marty Grubbs sits in the atrium at Crossings Community Church, where he is senior pastor. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> The Rev. Marty Grubbs sits in the atrium at Crossings Community Church, where he is senior pastor. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-59e84080058958b469e553d9e8d36e6c.jpg" alt="Photo - Church bulletins and other memorabilia are showcased in displays set up at Crossings Community Church to highlight the church's 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Church bulletins and other memorabilia are showcased in displays set up at Crossings Community Church to highlight the church's 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Church bulletins and other memorabilia are showcased in displays set up at Crossings Community Church to highlight the church's 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-49affb478202899081755784b228a8bc.jpg" alt="Photo - Church directories and other memorabilia are showcased in displays set up at Crossings Community Church to highlight the church's 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Church directories and other memorabilia are showcased in displays set up at Crossings Community Church to highlight the church's 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Church directories and other memorabilia are showcased in displays set up at Crossings Community Church to highlight the church's 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d5376af27520baaeda30ab92262f0987.jpg" alt="Photo - Memorabilia that tells the history of Crossings Community Church are showcased in displays around the church to highlight its 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Memorabilia that tells the history of Crossings Community Church are showcased in displays around the church to highlight its 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Memorabilia that tells the history of Crossings Community Church are showcased in displays around the church to highlight its 60th anniversary. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f238c0e7aa703cb1d1104199a0ffea9c.jpg" alt="Photo - Crossings Community Church, 14600 N Portland, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Crossings Community Church, 14600 N Portland, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Crossings Community Church, 14600 N Portland, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›

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