For more than 105 years, Crossroads Community Church Presbyterian Church in America has been proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities in Delaware, Philadelphia, and Montgomery Counties. Committed to Christian Orthodoxy and Biblical inerrancy, Crossroads is Reformed in its doctrinal perspective. This is evident each Sunday where expository preaching characterizes the worship services, and congregants are challenged to embrace and apply the Gospel in their daily lives. This Christ-centered focus continues throughout the week in Bible studies and prayer meetings in homes and at the church. The church is known as a center of evangelism. In homes and in the streets surrounding the church, the Good News of Jesus Christ is shared by members who care about their community and neighbors. Believers from other churches regularly participate in the proclamation of the Gospel.
The transforming power of the Gospel is evident by looking at the remarkably diverse congregation, which includes people young and old coming from different countries, occupations and educational backgrounds. Recognizing that what unites them is far more powerful and important than their differences, church members come together, not to celebrate their diverse backgrounds but rather to celebrate their common faith in and love for their Savior Jesus Christ.
Crossroads has a rich history of teaching elders (pastors), ruling elders and deacons who are committed to teaching from the Bible without compromise. These leaders are accessible and committed to the care and growth of the church as everyone walks together on the road of spiritual growth and maturity in Jesus Christ.
The history of Crossroads Church extends back to 1863 when members of the Patterson Memorial Church in Philadelphia began a Sunday School in the rural area just outside of west Philadelphia. Meeting in a member’s home, it was led by Superintendent Dr. Edward Anderson. Subsequently, it was moved to the Keystone Schoolhouse in 1883. The Anderson Memorial Chapel was built in 1906 at which time the congregation was organized by the Chester Presbytery. The church was particularized and incorporated in 1908.
The church struggled in its first decade with waning membership (31). By 1920, however, St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church saw the strategic nature of the growing community and helped secure the property currently occupied by Crossroads. The Anderson Memorial Chapel congregation began meeting in a tent on the premises in June 1920 until the completion of the building erected on the corner of Heather and Chestnut Streets. The church was renamed J.R. Miller Memorial Presbyterian Church in honor of the late Pastor of St. Paul’s, who was also a well known author and editor of Sunday School and devotional literature. By 1927, the membership had grown to 345 due in part to the development of the 69th Street area as a residential and transportation hub.
From the 1930s thru the 1950s, the church grew to a membership of 589 largely due to the leadership and faithful pastoral ministry of Rev. James McConnell, who served the church for 26 years. It was during the thirties that the church began to support missionaries including Brainerd and Elva Legters ministering to and translating the Bible for the Mayan Indians of Mexico; the Baker family ministering in Kenya and Tanzania; and the Dougherty family ministering to the unchurched in Missouri, California and Kansas. Subsequently the church sent out missionaries from its own congregation including Cal and Carolyn Rensch to the Chinantecs in Mexico and later to other countries with Wycliffe Bible Translators; Harold and Mildred King to northern Mexico and David and Jane Denyer with Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS).
Under the ministry of Rev. William B. Lester from 1956 to 1966, the lower level kitchen was updated, the gym transformed into a meeting hall, and a parking lot was installed. In the late 1960s and 1970s, during the tenure of Rev. Leo Karlberg, the mortgage for the building program was burned. Doctrinal compromise however, had continued to arise within the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA), which led many in the congregation to reconsider their affiliation with that denomination. Under the courageous leadership of Pastor Karlberg, the congregation voted (83-3) to leave the UPCUSA.
Based on their commitment to solid Biblical Reformed theology, the congregation subsequently voted unanimously in July of 1980 to affiliate with the Presbyterian Church in America. Although the struggles with these issues preoccupied the congregation, this bold move set the stage for a period of growth and revitalization. On November 2, 1986, the congregation signaled its commitment to a new beginning by voting to change the church’s name to Crossroads Community Church PCA and by calling Timothy Z. Witmer as Pastor.
Dr. Witmer’s 27 year tenure provided initiatives including Together Experiencing A Ministry (TEAM), evangelistic outreach, engaging seminary interns as youth leaders and guest preachers, Fall Friend Day, “Flock” groups to build family-like relationships between leaders and congregants, and a building expansion program to accommodate a growing membership. This program completed in the Fall of 2011, included a narthex, a new nursery, offices, five new classrooms, an elevator and handicap ramps. After his long and successful service as a beloved Pastor, Dr. Witmer retired as Senior Pastor and Minister of Preaching on January 12, 2014 and was named Pastor Emeritus.