By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
MARRERO, La. (LBM) – Ames Boulevard Baptist Church had experienced a decline in membership and was looking for “next steps” to reach the community when they approached Cross Culture church about merging in August 2022.
The once vibrant congregation had dwindled to 25 members who had seen just one baptism from 2015 to 2022, and they felt Cross Culture could help them better reach the community and ensure its survival for many years to come.
After several meetings and much prayer, both congregations finalized the merger and became Cross Community Church at Ames on April 30.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Pastor Troy Gause told the Baptist Message. “People in the neighborhood are starting to come from all different walks of life and the church is having newfound excitement. I’m really excited what God has done and will do.”
For more than a year, Gause and other leaders of Cross Culture church had prayed for God to provide resources to purchase a new facility and for them to team up with a struggling church for revitalization.
Gause in July 2022 was notified by Derek Kitterlin, son-in-law of Ames Boulevard Pastor Steve Foxworth, that the church property was in need of lawn maintenance. Gause, who owns a lawn care business, began taking care of the property for free without any discussion with Foxworth about a merger.
A month later, Foxworth approached Gause with the idea of a merger and on Sept. 11, 2022, the two churches held a joint worship service. Immediately, Ames Boulevard and Cross Culture developed a strong bond.
After multiple meetings, the churches became one, April 30.
Since the merger became official, Cross Community Church has baptized six new converts and averages 72 in worship, including a high of 120 on Easter Sunday. Additionally, the church has ordained its first two deacons and held its first community outreach events: a movie night, Sept. 23, and fall festival, Oct. 28.
“God has moved, and God is moving,” Gause said. “We are excited to see how He will continue to move among our body at Cross Community Church.”
Debbie Sturino, a member of Ames Boulevard Baptist for 33 years, has many fond memories at the church she called home for more than three decades. But Sturino is excited about what God has in store for her new church.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am without Christ and the church family that he has led me to serve and be a part of,” she said. “Although my church family is now called Cross Community Church at Ames, I know that I am loved by this body of believers and that we will continue to go through life together and work to reach our community for Christ in Marrero.”
Since 2015, 22 mergers have taken place among Louisiana Baptists. For more information about merging with another church, visit louisianabaptists.org/church-mergers-in-louisiana or email firstname.lastname@example.org.