We had a blast celebrating our volunteers and their families for Volupalooza 2017! We had over 635 adults and 340 kids come to Crossings OKC to enjoy dinner, inflatables, hear from Harlem Globetrotter Melvin Adams, and enjoy fellowship! Take a look at the highlights below!
Jesse Ray is a self-proclaimed “simple man.” When asked why he volunteers, he just says, “Because I like to!”
He started attending Crossings when his daughter was three, and his son was around six or seven years old. He began by volunteering in the nursery, but because he was on the third shift in a demanding job, he eventually had to stop. Later, he ended up between jobs, and took the opportunity to volunteer for Crossings KIDS helping lead the third grade boys, where his son attended.
Landing a new job, he felt that his then current volunteer efforts took a little too much time away from his children. So, he changed volunteer opportunities to what he is doing now – helping in the parking lot on Sundays driving a cart every week (or two) and helping refill the pews weekly with pens and envelopes.
It is notable that Jesse lives in Marshall, Oklahoma and drives 40 miles each way to volunteer on his days off and attend church. That is dedication! And the Crossings ball cap he wears speaks to some of that dedication, as well.
Why does he like it? One big reason is he just loves the kids, especially when they get on the golf cart with their families, and they have so much fun being chauffeured. He misses it when he’s not scheduled on a weekend. He says it fills something inside him and brings a little sunshine and joy into his life, and, of course, without volunteers like Jesse, Crossings just couldn’t work!
When asked what he would say to someone who is considering volunteering, he immediately and passionately just says, “Do it!” That’s simple and straightforward – like Jesse himself – who believes volunteering is fulfilling, joyful, and necessary to God’s kingdom. So why not just “do it?”
Getting Back to Their Roots
No one would have ever dreamed that two Freshman Follies performers would now be so very active in church and loving every minute of it! Danielle and Jacob Pasby met at an event put on by the Oklahoma State University freshmen called Freshman Follies. They began dating, fell in love and married, and five and a half years later, they have two boys. Shaffer is 3 1/2 years old, and Hunter is 1 year old.
Danielle grew up in Oklahoma City and received her teaching degree from Oklahoma State University. She taught for 5 years, but now stays home with their children. Jacob grew up in Elk City, Oklahoma and was fairly active in his Methodist church, but really didn’t attend church at OSU. He is now a CPA for a small oil and gas company. Once they decided to have children, they felt it was necessary to get back into church like many of young couples who were raised in church.
They began attending another local church but never got plugged in. Danielle said, “My stepmom, Nicole McConnell, was active in teaching children’s Sunday School and Vacation Bible School at Crossings and got Shaffer in the Mother’s Day Out program.” For 3 years, the Pasbys worshipped in the Venue with her family, but considered themselves fence sitters. “That was all we did”, said Jacob, “but now we’re 100% plugged in!”
Danielle and Jacob look forward each week to the Young Married Sunday School class taught by Laura and Terry Feix. They also attend a small group that meets on Wednesday evenings led by the Cartwrights. They met this group through the Centered group they attended last fall. “We used a workbook that had weekly topics. The study made us dive deeply into ourselves and the relationships we form,” said Jacob.
The Pasbys have learned to make church a priority through this study. They remember Marty Grubbs instructing the class participants to “stay in the Centered class until the end, even when you don’t feel like you have anything in common with other group members.” The Pasbys did stay in the class and now this group has become so very close. They do life together and go to brunch after church or watch each other’s kids. They are totally connected now.
They also have worked with LifeTools on Monday evenings and use a curriculum helping give the 4 and 5 year olds Christian life tools good for coping with the ups and downs of life. They love it. Jacob ushers and will soon drive the golf cart on Sunday mornings. They have helped with the backpack drive, and Danielle really enjoys working with Safe Families. This is an evolving, very new program that helps parents with children who are going through a difficult time and attends to their needs. The church is trying to determine how to help the families in the best way possible.
Danielle and Jacob gave an example of what being in community with others is really about. Their youngest son was born with a cleft lip and palate. Before Hunter’s surgery, their small group and some church staff prayed with them. They had dinners brought to their home, and church friends sat with them in the hospital. They were blown away by the love and support!
This couple has made church an integral part of their life. Shaffer now knows the routine. “He knows that when we go to church, he gets to see his friends,” says Danielle. They have all met some great friends! “Being involved is for everyone! It all just evolves,” they agreed. “Most people just don’t realize how much God is doing through Crossings church!” said Danielle. The people at Crossings are the church, and they are thrilled to be part of it!
“A Folly Marriage” written by Misti Aduddell, Crossings Volunteer Writing Team Member.
In 2013, Lori Manning walked into Crossings Community Church for the Divorce Care group not knowing seeking help for herself and her three daughters would turn 180 degrees into helping others. Manning and her daughters attended Divorce Care and LifeTools to aid them in their recovery, as she was going through a divorce. As time passed and Manning became familiar with the message of Crossings, she and her daughters then immersed themselves in volunteering.
“The timing was right for me,” explained Manning. “It was helpful and healing to do good things for others while going through the divorce.” Manning’s first volunteer role was helping with a Habitat for Humanity house. From there, she moved into being a pizza helper for the Middle School Ministry and later helped in the Heart Song class for special needs children. She and her daughters also volunteered at the Family Mart event during Christmas at the Community Center.
Whenever the opportunity allows, Manning’s daughters, ages 9, 12, and 14, volunteer with their mother. “Volunteering has allowed my daughters to have a servant’s heart. They are always looking for opportunities to help others. It is part of who they are,” explained Manning.
Currently, Manning and her daughters teach quarterly cooking classes (geared toward patients with heart conditions and diabetes) at the Community Center with a goal of teaching cooking for a healthy lifestyle. Working as a registered dietitian, she feels this is a great way to incorporate her skills into volunteering.
As a single mom with three daughters active in sports, Manning understands a busy schedule. She strays away from weekly opportunities because her schedule is so hectic, but this has not stopped her from finding other opportunities that fit right into her busy life. She encourages others to volunteer saying, “There is always something that fits. It’s extremely easy to get involved, and it makes such a big church seem small.”
Manning and her girls attended the recent Urban Plunge event looking for more way to get plugged into the community. After attending, they decided to begin serving at the BritVil Food Pantry.
“I have three thriving daughters and it has been such a blessing to see that our way of healing by serving and keeping focused on faith actually worked,” said Manning. She always believed by serving others she was coping with her issues in a healthy way. Clearly God has His hand in the lives of this family as they continue to touch others through their faithful service.
“Finding Strength in Serving” originally published by Suzanne Chew, Crossings Volunteer Writing Team member.
Learning and Leading
Many of us choose a motto to guide us in living our lives. Crossings volunteer, Amy Snow, is no exception. She and her husband made a commitment to follow Proverbs 22:6 in raising their son. Amy realizes that one important way to show her son the way he should go is through setting an example of service to the Lord.
Amy is no stranger to the importance of service. She grew up attending a small church where her mom was involved in service with multiple ministries. On Easter Sunday of 1997, she and her family decided to attend services at Crossings and never left. Amy went to college and continued to attend church at Crossings after she graduated. Amy then experienced two significant events in her life. She married her husband and together they had a beautiful daughter. Amy’s daughter was born with special needs and did not live past the age of two. While this was an experience Amy could never prepare for, the love and support of the church was integral in her healing.
After her second child Davis was born, Amy felt led and ready to look for a place to volunteer. She began watching the church bulletin to see how she could get connected and saw an opportunity to help in the special needs class for children. She didn’t act on it the first time she saw it, but the second sighting prompted her to volunteer. “It’s a big step to hear a calling and actually act on it, trusting God to lead.” Five years later, Amy continues in her commitment to this ministry and says, “I can’t imagine not doing this!”
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6
For Amy, working with this group of children is a new experience every Sunday. One moment she can be rescuing kids out of the ball pit or, a short time later, be talking to them about Jesus and how much He loves them. The team she works with has become her community group. Their common goal of seeking Christ while ministering to these children strengthens their bond of commitment to His calling. In Amy’s words, “We are helping the kids get love, and their cup filled with God’s Word.”
Showing Jesus’ Love
When asked why she has stayed committed to this ministry for so long, Amy offered several reasons. Initially, being involved in this ministry helped her deal with the loss she was feeling. Taking care of her daughter had been such a large part of her life, and this somewhat helped fill that hole. Eventually, her focus turned to offering stability to the kids in her class. This stability they experience comes from having a church family who cares for them, prays over them during times of transition in other areas of their life, and continually shows them the love of Jesus.
As a parent of a child with special needs, Amy also realized this ministry provides respite and support to the parents, allowing them to be fed spiritually while their children are in a safe setting. She admits to having moments where she wondered if she should help in her son’s class. Instead, she decided to introduce him to her ministry so he could have the experience of loving others with special needs. This is just one more opportunity for Amy to “train up her child.”
When we follow the path God, the creator and author of our lives, is leading us, He can and will provide an opportunity to honor Him through our service – just as He has done for Amy and the children she ministers to every week.
“Train Up a Child” originally published by volunteer writer, Sheila Urton
A New Perspective
Sometimes age is a necessary ingredient to completely understand and appreciate our upbringing. Rearing children also gives us a perspective we can only know once they are born. For Sharie Robertson, both of these life events converged, and she was better able to appreciate what she had all these years.
Sharie was raised in Del City, Oklahoma with Christian parents in a hard-working world. Money was tight, but her parents were certain to take her to church each time the doors were open. “My parents were and still are such a huge blessing in my life and the lives of our children.” Sharie didn’t think she had an interesting or unique story to tell the world but, once again, with the perspective of age comes wisdom.
Giving Her Life to Christ
During one Sunday evening church service at the age of seven, Sharie decided to give her heart and life to Christ. She vividly remembers this life-changing event. She said she “knew she was a sinner and needed to have a Savior!” Sharie considers herself a fortunate person because everyone in her young life was a true example of a Christ follower. She had a lot of aunts, uncles and grandparents who were great role models. She said “having this faith base kept me from a lot of heartache growing up.”
Sharie and her husband, John, have been married for nearly 33 years and have 2 children and 1 son-in-law, and they all actively attend Crossings. One of the greatest things about Sharie is her willingness to serve. She has served all of her life in one capacity or another and thinks there is a place for everyone to do the same. When her children were little, she taught 3 year olds and kindergarteners – then moved into a 3rd grade class as her children grew. “I really loved being around the older kids so I stayed with the 3rd graders for 10 years.” she said.
There are so many places and ways to serve in our church! We all have different skill sets, time restraints and gifts, but there is always some way to reach out! I get so much out of it and feel like I get all of the benefits. People just need to be able to find a place of service and begin somewhere.
After that, Sharie and another woman led a Huddle Group at church. They began meeting on Wednesday nights with a group of 7th grade girls and continued meeting for the next 6 years. They became so close with this group. These two leaders were loving listeners and gave Godly counsel and guidance in areas like the dangers of alcohol, problems with other friends and family, and even lost boyfriends. Most of the girls didn’t come from families that were regular churchgoers, but some are now serving as leaders in the college age group, and Sharie still keeps in touch with others as they are well into their own lives. “The girls are passing it on,” she said.
Willing to Serve
Sharie continues to serve, and she admits she loves people! She loves to hug and talk and listen to the people that have come into her life through serving! She volunteers as a substitute homeroom parent at Eugene Field Elementary School. With her background in education, it’s a perfect fit, and she’s able to help the teacher by tutoring in different areas with the students. Each week as a volunteer at The Club, which meets at the new Crossings Community Center, she makes an effort to hug as many of the John Marshall students as she can as they come through the doors! She wants to be a living example of Jesus Christ to them. Sharie loves establishing a relationship with the kids AND their families as well! When she is out running errands, she often sees a student’s grandparents or parents and stops to visit and hug them too!
Sharie is certain she receives more than she could ever give.
“Raised to Serve” originally written by Misti Aduddell, Crossings Volunteer Writing Team member.
Amy met Bill Wolfe on a blind date, fell in love, got married and raised three children. Is this the end of the story? No way! She was raised in Tulsa and became a follower of Jesus Christ at the age of 12. The youth director at her church had a huge part to play in Amy deciding to become a Christ follower. This is one reason she is so passionate about children and working with parents of younger children today.
Amy, Bill, and their children fell in love with Belle Isle Community Church over 25 years ago after only visiting one time. The moment they walked through the door they were greeted by Roy Townsdin and “he made us feel as if we were the only ones in the church! We each knew we were at home and loved it from the first visit!”
Fast forwarding to 2016, Bill and Amy are still very involved in the church, as well as all of their grown children, Bill’s mom and dad, sister, and brother. Amy even used to work at the church offices as a receptionist on Thursday and Friday, but decided to retire to help her ailing parents.
Both Amy and her husband have volunteered in many different areas throughout the years and believe it is so important to be involved. “With the size of this church and just attending worship, it’s hard to feel like you belong. You really need to be part of a Sunday school class or small group and volunteer in some capacity to feel part of the family.”
Bill has taught a 3rd grade boys Sunday School class for many years, and Amy decided to teach the Special Needs class for elementary age children on Sunday mornings. Their middle child is now 33 years old and has special needs, which has given them a deep desire to serve children and adults with special needs. Amy feels a close connection with the special needs community and even serves as a volunteer at Wings, a community for adults with special needs in Edmond.
Another volunteer role Amy has recently taken on is being a mentor for a group of mothers with little children under the age of five, as part of Women’s Ministry Monday morning MOMs groups. She wishes there had been something like this for her when her children were young. It is not only helpful for the mothers to glean insight from this Bible study and fellowship with one another on the challenges of marriage, raising children and life, but Amy learns a lot from them and loves these young moms!
Being a member of Crossings Community Church is such a blessing, and we still feel as though God’s love is poured out every time we walk through the doors. It is a warm place where everyone is accepted.
She wants others to come and experience the love, joy and acceptance that Crossings offers. Amy is passionate about the work she does as a volunteer at the church, and her advice for others is to get involved and be as active as you can. Everyone at any age has a lot to offer, and those gifts can change lives as we share them with one another. We are never too old to learn either!
Written by Misti Aduddell, Crossings Volunteer Writing Team Member
With over 2600 active volunteers at last count, volunteerism at Crossings Community Church is not only a big part of the Crossings experience, but critical to its success. When asked about his volunteerism at Crossings, Bob Akridge simply says, “It’s what we do.” Indeed, as the body of Christ, we are called to serve, encourage and support one another; it’s just what we do – and Bob has been doing it in various capacities for the fifteen years he’s been at Crossings!
Bob believes in a large church, the biggest resource is volunteers. Volunteers are needed to make church happen. Not only is volunteering a great way to serve God and the community, it’s a great way to plug in and gain new friendships.
Bob’s parents were active in church when he was young, and he has served in many areas for most of his life, including in leadership and music. When he arrived at Crossings, he started out volunteering in the Children’s Ministry, teaching 4-year-olds before he had his own kids. He was one of the original ushers in the Gym service before it became the Venue service, and soon became an usher captain. He remembers that Jami Smith was the worship leader then, and it started out with around 200-300 people and grew from there.
Other volunteer opportunities have included teaching Crossings 56, the ministry for 5th and 6th graders, but the last two years have been spent recruiting other volunteers. You can find him Sundays at the Volunteer Ministry desk in the Atrium helping those who wish to volunteer find a place where there is a need.
It can be easy to get lost in a big church, and volunteering is a great way to find your home within Crossings.
Bob works in health care as an administrator for a national physician’s services company. Married to wife Debby, they have two children, Reagan (in grade school) and Ryan (in middle school). He is trying to set a great example for his children to become active in church, just like the wonderful testament his parents set for him. Despite busy schedules, he feels, “It’s important to make serving a priority in our lives – it’s just part of being in Christ!” He knows that he and his family have been touched by the volunteer efforts of others serving them – and certainly touched by the friendships he has gained while serving.
Thinking about volunteering? Bob’s advice is: 1) It’s just a great thing to do! If you don’t know, find out what your spiritual gifts are and how you can match them up to the many volunteer opportunities Crossings has to offer. Remember, there are one-time volunteer opportunities available to get your feet wet before you commit to longer term service; and 2) Visit the Volunteer Ministry desk in the Atrium and talk to one of the volunteer coordinators there – maybe even Bob! They are eager to meet you and help you find your perfect place to serve.
There are so many truly heartwarming stories at Crossings about how volunteers help others and in so doing, reap the rewards of God’s kingdom. Bob and other volunteers like him truly make a difference. “It’s what we do!” and you can too!
For more information about serving at Crossings, go to crossings.church/volunteer.
Recharge. That’s exactly what happens to usher Hobe Burgan every Sunday morning when he meets and greets fellow Crossings members and visitors. “Sunday morning church is the place where I recharge my faith batteries,” explains Burgan. And while he enjoys his Sunday church service, he, in turn, serves others while attending.
For the past ten years, Burgan has faithfully given of his time and talents as an usher in the 9:15 Sanctuary service. As a self-proclaimed people person, Burgan feels right at home with his duties. “I get to meet and greet all of my friends,” says Burgan. These friendships have evolved over the years. For the past seven years, Burgan has served as an usher in the same section. The friendships have grown as Burgan visits those who are ill or calls the ones who haven’t shown up in a few weeks.
As Burgan arrives early each Sunday, he puts 14 bulletins in seats for his faithful regulars and then lights a candle for his wife, Jane. Hobe and Jane have been married 56 years. She currently is homebound with Parkinson’s. He is thankful for the time he gets to spend at church reflecting on their life together. “I thank God for the life we have had. That is important to me,” he explains. He finds his time at church solidifies his faith explaining that now more than ever it is important that his faith doesn’t waiver. “I’m not worried about that,” he explains, “but I need reinforcement. Who doesn’t?”
Burgan encourages everyone to find a role in the church. He says ushering was not out of his comfort zone and an easy fit. By finding roles that blend with your personality, it will just fit. “Try it. You are going to end up receiving more than you give.”
Burgan and his wife attended church most of their life together. However, for a brief period prior to attending Crossings, they didn’t have a church home. After a lengthy conversation with a long time longtime friend, who is a Catholic priest, Jane told Hobe it was time to find a church. They landed at Crossings. “It immediately felt like home. It didn’t feel like a large church,” explained Burgan. Burgan now views attendance at church as his highest priority. “I feel it is important to be there. It works for me.”
Recharge originally published by Suzanne Chew, Crossings Volunteer Writing Team Member