Crossroads United Methodist Church

-- A History --


September 2004



                       Our mission:

“Offering Christ to All Who Seek a Personal Relationship With Him.”



                         Our Vision:

“Receivers of Miracles, Bold Witnesses to the Power of the Holy Spirit.”



Crossroads United Methodist Church proudly carries on today the work of local residents who pledged in 1877 to build the Williamstown Centre Methodist Episcopal Church north of Williamston, and in 1872 to create the Bell Oak ME church north of Webberville. 


Crossroads adopted its current name in 2000, when Williamston Center and Bell Oak United Methodist churches were merged.  Members voted to change the name to reflect the new beginning for the two congregations then joined together.


As today’s congregants move into the future, they salute their forebears who built and maintained God’s house at the very center of Williamstown Township in Ingham County.  That original effort led to the facility now in use by the merged congregations at 5491 Zimmer Road, Williamston.


The original structure, on the site of old District Number Nine School at the corner of Zimmer and Haslett Roads, is still in use as the church fellowship hall.  It sits on property donated for the church in 1879 by Merrit Andress.


The first congregation on the site contracted with G. S. Brower to build the structure for $350.00 for carpenter work, with an additional $900.00 to be paid for stonework.  Sometime after Brower finished the structure, a line of horse sheds was erected to the south of the church.


On April 1, 1907, members of the church signed articles of incorporation.  They were Frank Alverson, J.W. Bartow, Jacob Graham, Perry Gulick, Frank Horstman, Martin Leeman, Willis Spaulding, W. B. Swarthout, E. Voss and Fred Young, with J. G. Haller, presiding elder, as witness.  At that time the church was named Williamston Center Methodist Episcopal Church, and a circuit was formed with Shaftsburg and Graham churches.


The steeple of the church was destroyed by lightning, probably in 1921, as the Williamston Fire Department charged $18.00 that year for a run to the church because of a lightning strike.


In 1921 Williamston Center was placed on a circuit with Williamston Methodist Church, with the Rev. William Gregory as pastor.  Later in the decade, pledges were taken.  With Ladies’ Aid dinners for 25 cents and labor from the congregation, an addition was built which included classrooms. Much of the old horse sheds was used to supply lumber for this addition.


While the Williamston Center church family  was advancing its congregation, Bell Oak members were furthering their church home.


Bell Oak services began with a Methodist Episcopal class organized in 1872.  The Rev. Joseph England was appointed pastor of the Bell Oak Church.


Services were held in the Pinkney School until the building of the church in 1886.  Accounts are that James Spencer gave land to the church, which was built by Sanford Franks.  Homer Murphy conducted a large singing school in the church, and later purchased the bell for the church. 


The church originally had an extremely tall steeple which was removed by Elbert Stoule about 1910.  That same year the pump organ was given to the church and played during services until the church doors closed in 1997.  Two different gas light systems were used before 1928, when electricity came to Bell Oak.


Sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s, the rostrum was lowered from three steps to one, and the communion table and altar rail were built. 


In 1959, attendance crowded the Bell Oak facilities and additional room was needed.  Church school rooms and a furnace room in the basement were added.  In later years a false ceiling was put in and a new well and bathroom facilities.   


In 1960, Williamston Center church member Jim Allen directed construction of a better kitchen and new bathrooms at that site.  In 1964 the Detroit Conference of the Methodist Church took Williamston Center from the Williamston circuit and placed it with Wheatfield Methodist Church, with Karl Ziegler as student minister.  Later in the decade, new pews, organ and carpeting were added.


Paul and Flonnie Swartout donated two acres to the church in 1976, providing space for a much-needed parking lot.  In 1979 Williamston Center United Methodist Church celebrated its Centennial year.  Pastor Paul Lowley rode a horse to Sunday morning services, dressed as an 1800s circuit-riding preacher.


An historical marker was erected on the church lawn in 1984, making it one of only four Lansing-area churches to gain State of Michigan Historical Site status.  The next year, a ground-breaking ceremony kicked off addition of a large new wing to the church, which included three classrooms, a nursery with its own bath, modern bathrooms, a large fellowship hall with foyer, a pastor’s study and a full basement.  The addition was consecrated on May 18, 1986, and paid in full, with a mortgage burning, on June 2, 1991.  Preceeding the building years, Fred Fischer was pastor of Williamston Center UMC.


In the 1980s the church separated from the circuit with Wheatfield UMC and gained its own part-time pastor to serve only Williamston Center.  In 1987 the Lansing District UMC separated the Bell Oak church from the Webberville UMC and, in 1992, placed it on a charge with the Wheatfield UMC of Williamston


In June 1990, Clifford and Ginny Lensky deeded to the Williamston Center church a strip of their land which bordered the south side of the parking lot.  In July 1991, a new steeple was raised to the belfry. 


In 1993 Patricia Skinner was appointed pastor of the church.  That year the first studies began on the need for expanded facilities.  In February 1999 the congregation bought 10 acres running directly south of the church parking lot and west behind three homes on Haslett Road.  The $31,100 mortgage on the 10 acres was paid off in December 2000.


The congregation continued to plan for a larger, more conducive building.  Building Committee chairs over the 10-year study and planning decade were Judy Marr, Russ Stickle and Gerre Lou Imhoff. 


In 2000, the Lansing District officially merged the two congregations—Williamston Center UMC and Bell Oak UMC—into one, and the combined church family chose the name of Crossroads UMC.  The church then sold the Bell Oak properties, which included the church and its cemetery, the fellowship hall in the town of Bell Oak and the vacant lot on the corner of Morrice and Bell Oak roads. 


A Miracle Sunday campaign September 10, 2000, led by Dan Hankins, raised approximately $410,000 toward the expansion of the Crossroads church facilities.  This included $185,000 in gifts from church members and an unexpected bequest from Jane Kleiver of Florida, sister-in-law of long-time member Andrew Kleiver.  When all legal requirements were made, the bequest totaled $225,000, a true miracle.


On August 1, 2002, the Rev. DeAnn Dobbs began her service as the first full-time pastor of the church.  She continues in service to this time.


On September 1, 2002, church members broke ground on a 6,300 sq. ft. addition  that includes a new sanctuary with seating capacity for 300 persons, new main entrance and foyer, new pastor’s study and church office. Under the sanctuary are six new classrooms, prayer room, bathrooms, mechanical room and elevator. 


The congregation celebrated Consecration Sunday for the new sanctuary, classrooms and offices on April 6, 2003.  They then enlarged and remodeled the former sanctuary to serve as the fellowship hall, and built a new kitchen in the enlarged space formerly taken by two classrooms. 


An all-volunteer crew of 150 congregation members, families, neighbors and friends carried out the $553,000 expansion and remodeling work, which was completed in summer of 2004, debt-free!  Building efforts were led by Richard Davison of Cambridge, Ontario, and Ed Brown of Williamston, seasoned Habitat for Humanity workers. 


Pews from Bell Oak and Williamston Center were combined for seating in the sanctuary.  The Bell Oak pulpit holds the guest registration book in the foyer. 


Church members adopted a new church administrative structure effective January 2004.  Dedication of the new facilities is scheduled Sunday, September 25, 2005, when all finishing touches will be completed on the current facility.


Crossroads United Methodist Church today has a firm start on the 21st century, with the goal of bringing more souls to Christ and accommodating the worship of all ages in new and welcoming surroundings. 


Today the church offers one service of “blended” traditional and contemporary worship styles, at 9:00 a.m. Sundays.  Services are led by Rev. Paula Vergowven,  Bible study is held each Wednesday afternoon at 1pm.


As we move into the new century, we are humble and grateful recipients of large and small miracles which compel us to witness to others about God’s love, His desire for a personal relationship with us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Help for us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Hallelujah! 

© 2024 Crossroads United Methodist Church
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