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Church captures attention through real life events; offers free movie July 15

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image The Crossing Church, which has a campus in Tampa and one near Orlando, is about to open a new campus in South County. Starting with a core group of 450 they hope to have about 1,000 members by the time they launch their services and programs in September.

The interdenominational church has grown by leaps and bounds.

By PENNY FLETCHER

RUSKIN — Two native boys — one growing up in Tampa and the other in Ruskin — didn’t know how their futures would be woven together until recently.

Now though, they’re working in unison to open a new campus of The Crossing Church. It will be the third campus and will temporarily hold services in the gymnasium at Lennard High School in Ruskin.

The pastors say they hope to have a deal closed soon at the old Beall’s building in Sun Point Plaza on State Road 674.

The story of The Crossing Church and its mixed inter-generational congregation is quite unique.

“I was pastor of The Pointe Church in Riverview when the Crosstown Community Church in Tampa asked me to come be its new pastor,” said Lead Pastor Greg Dumas. “It was an honor to be asked, but I didn’t want to leave my congregation, and suggested instead that we merge.”

They did, forming The Crossing Church in the building formerly used by Crosstown Community, 10130 Tuscany Ridge Drive, Tampa (east off Causeway Boulevard between U.S. 301 and Interstate 75.)

They also have a Celebration campus- and yes, Celebration is not a church term in this sense but a town near Orlando — and are about to open one in South County. They also hold separate Spanish services at the Tampa location at 1:30 on Sundays.

The interdenominational church has grown by leaps and bounds.

“Any given Sunday we have about 5,000 worshippers and about 9,000 people call our church home,” Dumas said.

Dumas was born in Tampa in 1969 but moved with his mother when he was seven years old to Oklahoma. After playing some football in college he attended the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and received his master’s degree in theology there.

“I got recruited to Brandon in 1998 and felt like I was coming home,” Dumas told me in an interview June 28. His decision to start The Pointe was because he saw that there were many people in the area who did not belong to any denomination and he felt they would need a church.

He was right, almost immediately drawing about 500 people, and working up to 1,000 in just a couple of years.

When he was asked to preach at Crosstown, the merge brought two 1,000-person congregations together and all kinds of ministries were born both in the local communities and in poor countries.

One secret of the Crosstown’s success, as described by some of the teenagers that packed the separate building behind the main Tampa church, is that the pastors give sermons relevant to their lives and they then separate into small groups to discuss them, talk about their troubles and concerns and pray for each other.

The children and teens have lively “rock-type” music with lighting like they would find familiar from a rock concert or on line.

“The key is reaching them where they are,” said Joey Adkins, who will be the campus pastor at the new church opening in South County.

Instead of ignoring new technology, they are embracing it, using the Internet for live podcast services, Twitter and Facebook for notices and followers, and various forms of media to get the word out.

Adkins, 31, and his wife April, gave away tickets at AMC Regency Theaters in Brandon June 28 to introduce people to their “At the Movies” series.

“The sermons will be based around the themes of the movies, relating them to everyday life,” Adkins said. “It’s like Hollywood meets God. We’re doing things like The Book of Eli, and Brave. We talk about it, give the sermon, and then we show the movie. After that, there will be a meal.”

This is a good way to keep people involved in the summer when attendance usually goes down, he added.

The idea for “At the Movies” was born at Life Church in Oklahoma, where Pastor Dumas spent some time in his youth.

Although regular services will not begin at the South County location until Sept. 16, there will be several pre-opening events at Lennard, including the movie “Soul Surfer,”  following an 11 a.m. service on July 15.
Then on Aug. 12 there will be another 11 a.m. service at Lennard and Aug. 18 there will be a Back to School Bash where backpacks will be given away there.

The Big Launch will be Sept. 16, with weekly services and local ministries continuing on a regular basis after that.

Adkins is excited to be back in his hometown of Ruskin.

“I grew up here and moved away to New Hampshire and Georgia and came back for family responsibilities about four years ago,” he said.

Since then, there has been one opportunity after another in ministry and he says he knows he was meant to return at this time.

To find out more about The Crossing Church and its locations and events, visit crossingonline.org or call (813) 626-0783.

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