By Sandy . . . For persons required to register whose life “before” included regular or even occasional church attendance and worship, being ostracized from the fellowship or forbidden to attend due to restrictions or laws can be one of the more devastating consequences of life on the registry. And for those who are seeking a church home for the first time, the registry is a barrier that can be difficult to overcome.
Crossroads of Hope, a new church, was established to help mitigate that devastation and break down those barriers.
Founded firmly on the Christian faith, Crossroads is a non-denominational, virtual church whose first service will be held online on March 27 at 1 p.m. central time.
According to their website, “Crossroads of Hope is a community of faith rooted in the love of God. In his earthly ministry, Jesus focused on the people most marginalized by society. We are a church with an eye and heart towards the incarcerated, former incarcerated, and others working to reintegrate into society and family.”
The executive pastor is Pastor Jon Kendzie. He is responsible for the care of staffing, training, operations, technology, and finances.
Pastor Jon has served in ministry for 19 years, seven years as a Stephen Minister®, a non-profit Christian education organization; ten years leading in a traditional church setting; and now leading ministry online.
He and his wife of thirty years have two sons. His educational background includes a Master of Divinity from SMU’s Perkins Theological Seminary, an MBA in global business, and a Bachelor of Science in marketing from the American University. He is also certified in spiritual counseling.
In reflecting on his vision for this new ministry Pastor Jon had this to say:
We have a big vision for this community, and it is built on small groups. Online worship is a great way to gather and share in a pastoral message, but having that sense of “belonging” hinges on being able to build friendships and connections. So, while registered citizens and their families are central to our vision, we welcome all people who want to know Christ and grow in knowledge and love of the Lord.
There’s a reason our tagline is “Forgiven. Faithful. Family.” First and foremost, we want our attendees to experience Crossroads of Hope as a place where they feel accepted and forgiven. We are ALL sinners in need of forgiveness (Romans 3:24). We have all made mistakes we regret, and we all miss the mark of living out God’s will for humanity. Jesus tells the woman in John 8, “Go and sin no more.” In this, Jesus is saying our past is behind us; what we need to focus on is who we will be in the future.
Secondly, we want this to be a place where people can grow in faith. It is a safe place to ask questions and find answers to our faith questions. Finally, we want COH to be a place where people feel like family.
Initially, we will build this personal connection in our volunteer serving teams, and more so, through LifeGroups. LifeGroups can be Bible studies, but they can also be people gathering to go jogging or kids’ play-dates or breaking bread together. We envision that we will identify areas where local, in-person groups may be possible as we grow. As we identify these, we will find ways to invite people to meet locally in LifeGroups, serve in community missions, and worship together. We may even step into opening local church campuses.
What we are not is “the answer” to church. We see all Christian churches as equally valid expressions of Christian faith. We are simply creating an environment where people who are challenged to feel welcomed in many of America’s churches can feel safe and supported in growing their relationship with Christ.
Pastor Jeremy Pierce leads the online worship. Pastor Jeremy developed his calling to the ministry during incarceration, which equips him in a most singular way for ministry in a church “with an eye and heart toward the incarcerated [and] formerly incarcerated.” His particular focus is with those often seen as modern-day lepers: those listed on sexual offense registries and their families, who bear the same ostracism and feelings of shame as the registrants themselves.
Jeremy and his wife have six children and two grandchildren. He began his educational history during the eight years he spent in the U.S. Navy, completing a Bachelor’s Degree in technical management from DeVry University. He later completed a Master’s Degree in educational studies from the University of Phoenix.
Pastor Jeremy describes himself as having an “easy-going style that will meet you wherever you currently are in life.” He stresses, “Crossroads of Hope is a safe, non-judgmental worship and faith community. It offers opportunities to make connections and grow deeper in faith through LifeGroups, which are now registering. Those with musical talents, welcoming dispositions, and leadership skills are encouraged to explore the service opportunities at Crossroads of Hope. There is a place for you!” It is also of prime importance to him for those on the registry to know and believe that the registry does NOT define them, a position that NARSOL heartily endorses.
More information, as well as contact information, can be found on the church’s website.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.