This record is as given to me by Pastor Billings and is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate,
but it is probably as close as it's going to get.
The Beginning - 1945
The Middletown Alliance Church aka Crossroads was started in 1945 by evangelist Tom Ritchey. He and his wife played a great assortment of musical instruments,including whiskey bottles that were filled with water to tune to the proper pitch. Out of intrigue,many people began to come to services and attendance quickly reached as high as 200. However,most of these people were from other churches and were not new conversions.
During this time, the church met in the high school auditorium for services. Tom Ritchey pastored the church for roughly two years before his son-in-law, Patrick Patterson took over as pastor and served for one year. Then Rev. Henry Roe took over as pastor and orchestrated the purchasing of an old church on North Street. The building had been vacated during World War II and temporarily used as a skating rink.
One distinguishing feature of this church was that it was built in the shape of a cross with the seating being in the vertical member and the stage being the cross-member. However, there were no seats in the church because they had been removed for the skating rink. Then in 1950, a local theater closed and donated all of its seating to the church. In 1949, Joseph Nickelson became pastor of the church. In 1952, Robert Hedger came to pastor MAC.
Troubled Times - 1957
Rev. Nelson Cook came to Middletown in November 1955. In March 1957 he began to pastor the Middletown Alliance Church and continued to do so until 1958 when the district decided to shut down the churchbecause it could not pay a pastor. However, Cook argued thatsince this was the only C&MA church in Orange County, the district could not afford to lose it. Pastor Cook then decided to take a job at a local factory so that the congregation would not have to pay him.
Rebirth - 1965
In 1965, the church decided to purchase a parsonage for Rev. Cook and his family. However,the heating system in it did not work well and the winter was very cold. The next year, Rev. Cook didthe handyman work and hired out the trade work to get the parsonage back to full working order. In 1968,Cook asked the church to start saving up a fund of $2,500 and he would become their pastor full time for apayment of $75 per week. The following year, he was staffed full time as pastor.
New Growth - 1977
In 1977, to promote growth, MAC decided to sell their existing church building for $33,000 and buy new property. A lot onCounty Route 78 was purchased from the Mt. Carmel Society, a Catholic organization. At the time, the area was just a largewooded lot and few people lived near it. However, they felt that God was saying that this was where He wanted the church builtbecause one day it would be a populated area. Even though the church owned the land, it took them nine years tostart construction of a new building. During this time, the congregation met in a variety of places.
Then, in 1985, the new Middletown Alliance Church building was dedicated* to be used by God but there still was no occupancy permit since it was only walls and a roof. So, the church people began doing all the work they could on the building while trade work was hired out. Interestingly, the stained glass windows in the church were made by someone in the church at that time. Finally, in the early 1990's occupancy was permitted and the church began to have official services in the new building. In 1991, Rev. Jay Bellamy, a missionary candidate, pastored the church until leaving to become an Alliance missionary. Jay focused on reaching out to the community. One way he did that was by becoming a fire chaplain.
In 1995, Pastor Gary Rankin came to pastor. Gary brought with him a shepherd's heart and was well loved by the congregation. He continued being the full time pastor until 20 June, 2004 when he had an accident which did not allow him to continue as pastor. Rev. Cook and the elders stepped up to fill in until Pastor Gary was able to recover. However, he did not fully recover so the district assigned a new pastor in 2006. Rev. Jason Spray led the church during that time by providing new direction, as well as updating equipment and church facilities.
Starting July 2008, Rev. David Nathaniel Billings took over as Lead Pastor. Under his leadership the church has further developed in the areas of strategic planning, leadership development, small groups, outreach,worship, and Christian Education, as well as changing the church's name to Crossroads Church of the CMA. During the last few months the church building has received a complete makeover from carpet, painting, and wallpapering, to remodeling the kitchen. In the midst of all of this work,servant evangelism projects and outreach events have continued to develop a presence in the community.
The people of Crossroads Church are thankful for God's faithfulness, and His leading, as they continue to be disciples, who make disciples. As we join God in His plans, He gets the glory and we get the privilege of joining Him in His work here in the greater Middletown area.
As the old song goes,
"To God be the glory, great things He hath done, So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life our an atonement for sin, And opened the life-gate that all may go in.
Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be Our wonder, our transport when Jesus we see.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice;
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory; great things He hath done!"
* At the dedication ceremony, the District Superintendent stated that Rev. Cook held the record for the longest to pastor a church without a specific meeting location.