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Helena’s Crossbridge Church finds success with 3 lead pastorscomment (0)

August 11, 2011

By Sondra Washington

Church plants are quite common among Alabama Baptists. So is two churches merging to have a greater impact for Jesus in their community. But three pastors sharing the leadership role in one congregation is so unique that even the pastors involved never saw it coming.

Last spring, when doctors told Morrell Aldridge, founder of Crossbridge Community Church, Helena, in Bessemer Baptist Association, that he had six months to live after being cancer-free since 2007, he began praying for God to send someone to help lead his church. On the other side of Helena, Shelby Baptist Association church planter Bruce Squires and his small Hope Church congregation were plugging along trying to make a difference in their city.

For one year, Aldridge and Squires had been praying with other community pastors for revival in Helena after the mayor told them about the “astronomical rate of suicide” in the surrounding areas, Squires said.

At the same time, Aldridge had reconnected with good friend Harris Cook after he returned from doing long-term missions in Venezuela. While Cook did not want to take the helm at Crossbridge, he began co-leading the church with Aldridge. Soon the pair began praying for a younger, more permanent pastor to lead the congregation as they approached retirement age.

God brought Squires to Aldridge’s mind. Hope Church was sponsored by Riverside Baptist Church, Helena, where Aldridge was founding pastor and Squires served as staff evangelist before being called into ministry. After the two congregations began praying about merging, God began working out the details. Early this year, the two churches joined and have been experiencing an excitement that is flowing outside the church walls and into the community.

“If God hadn’t been in it, I would have never thought of it on my own,” Aldridge said. “A lot of people don’t understand how three of us do that (lead Crossbridge). … We cover each other’s backs. … All of us have different talents. We just let the one who is stronger become the leader.”

While their church leadership structure may be strange to some, Squires said it is biblical.

“We serve equally as co-pastors from preaching to ministering to our congregation,” he said. “In your New Testament churches, you had a co-pastor relationship. There’s lots of enthusiasm on our team and in the church. … We follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. … We just seek Him (God) and follow Him and do what He wants us to do.”

Aldridge said the atmosphere inside the church has been like “a little piece of heaven on earth,” giving the co-pastors time to work in the children’s ministry one Sunday each month — an opportunity they would not have if there were only one pastor.

“We’re not perfect; nobody’s perfect but through the blood of Jesus, He brings us to a point of usefulness in His Kingdom,” Aldridge said. “I’m honored to be associated with this church. They have learned to be people of faith.”

Since the merger, Crossbridge also has strengthened its ministry to Helena, sponsoring a prayer rally to bring attention to the community’s suicide problem.

“There were probably 150 people at the prayer rally,” Squires said. “What we have been experiencing is a revival of God’s people. There’s a lot of praying and seeking God. … Everybody in the church took ownership and it all came together. … We want to let people know that no matter what life holds for them, there is hope in Jesus Christ.”

Currently Crossbridge is seeking to join Shelby Association. But no matter what happens in the future, Aldridge is thankful for what has been done at the church he has led since its birth seven years ago.

“God let me smell my flowers before I go,” he said. “It’s a peace that God has given me. I have no fear.”

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