News Story on The Well/Cross Merge…
Thought this was interesting… the local news paper here in Fresno just did a brief write up on the merge that’s about to take place between The Cross Church & The Well’s Fig Garden Campus…
Cross Church and The Well prepare to merge
Published online on Friday, Aug. 21, 2009
By Ron Orozco / The Fresno Bee
A church merger is drawing a lot of interest in the area’s faith community. Beginning Sept. 13, The Cross Church will begin holding Sunday morning services with The Well Community Church’s satellite congregation that has been holding services and other activities Sunday evenings at The Cross Church. The merged congregation will be known as The Well Fig Garden, under pastor Shea Sumlin.
“They’ve rented from us for seven years, so we know them,” says The Cross Church’s pastor, the Rev. Sam Freshwater. “It’s time to get married.” It’s refreshing to see churches helping each other. The Cross Church has deep roots. It was organized by German immigrants from Russia in 1892 in southeast Fresno. Although the church thrived in the 1960s with 2,200 members, it has fallen on hard times with just 130 people. That happens. Adult members die off and their children move on.
The Well is a success story. It began as a college ministry at Northwest Church under Brad Bell in 1998. Then, he turned it into a fledgling congregation in February 2002. Its first home was the rented sanctuary of The Cross Church. The Well has grown to more than 2,000 members, mainly those in their 20s and 30s. They have worshipped at the church’s main venue on East Nees Avenue since August 2007. Satellite venues were also added at Sunnyside High School and Maple Creek Elementary School.
The merger doesn’t affect The Well’s other sites. But it allows The Well to make deeper connections with neighbors near The Cross Church — and that pleases one of the church’s longtime members, Sharon Crabtree, 66. “It helps sometimes for young eyes to see new vision,” she says. “You can get stagnant in what you’re doing.” Freshwater says, “We see it as a God-given opportunity to reach the Fig Garden area. I’m not an evangelist. My heart is for the lost.” The merger, he adds, is “one that has a great facility and one that has fresh eyes in ways to reach people.”
Before the merger is complete, The Cross Church will hold special events to celebrate its history. A legacy service will be held 9 a.m. Aug. 30 at the church, 4545 N. Palm Ave. Former members are invited to attend. A luncheon featuring German foods and videos will be at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 6 at the church’s fellowship hall. Reservations should be made. Details: (559) 222-3700.