A historic Washington Crossing congregation with over 150 years of service to the community and the world did not let a pandemic stand in the way of completing construction of a 400-plus-seat worship and broadcast center that will enable it to expand its ability to do good works.
Washington Crossing UMC “The Crossing” began fundraising for the project in early 2019 and broke ground last June, despite an unprecedented time in the nation and against all odds.
“After serious prayerful consideration, we really felt compelled by the Lord to move forward with the vision,” said the Rev. Dr. Scott McDermott, senior pastor, who has led the congregation since 1993. “It’s a testimony of what God can do even in the darkest times.”
The key driver for the initiative was the church’s focus on serving the community. The Crossing has a long history of community outreach and standing up for justice since its inception in 1855. Samuel Taylor, a skilled Quaker carpenter, found Jesus at a Methodist camp meeting and resolved to build a Methodist church in Taylorsville, today’s Washington Crossing. The project engaged community from the start.
Because Taylor stepped into his destiny, the church touched thousands of lives — far beyond its own congregation over its 166-year history. The young church was engaged with Anti-Slavery Society meetings, hosted Women’s Christian Temperance meetings, and supported anguished families in the Civil War and the Depression.
Over a century and a half later, the passion that drives The Crossing burns as bright as ever. The Crossing actively serves the local community through relevant and practical ministries.
The church organized six years of job fairs during the height of the recession and offered free community classes,. Its “Mega” Egg Hunt has brought young families together and its emotional and physical healing ministries have served and blessed thousands of people.
Additionally, the church has been on the front line in the battle against modern day issues such as sex trafficking, the opioid crisis and serving alongside local pregnancy centers to help distressed mothers.
This same love and devotion to community is at the heart of the church’s new building program. The church’s vision for its facility goes beyond worship services into community service.
After outgrowing the initial chapel on the hill, The Crossing started holding services in the church gymnasium in 1999. For the past 22 years, the church used the gym as a dual-purpose space both for services and for youth activities. With the new worship center, plans are in place to upgrade the gym for community outreach and service. By the fall, The Crossing plans to begin youth sports programs for the community.
While the church has a local focus, its ministries expand nationally and internationally. The COVID-19 pandemic broadened the church’s listening audience, with services offered every week through social media. People around the globe now engage with the ministry. Located in one of the most historically rich locations in our country, this church in Washington Crossing has a vision that embraces the world.
Nearly 80 years before its inception, and just steps away from where the sanctuary would stand, George Washington and his 2,400 men dared to cross the Delaware River on the bitter-cold Christmas night of 1776 and triumphed at the Battle of Trenton.
Artist Emanuel Leutze memorialized this turning point of the American Revolution in his famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851). The iconic image is now a highlight of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but from 1952 to 1959, was displayed at the little Taylorsville church.
Over those eight years, the small congregation hosted an estimated 250,000 visitors who came through the church doors to see the historic painting of Washington the other patriots Leutze portrayed.
The Crossing later moved to its current location on a nearby hillside in Washington Crossing to accommodate a still-growing congregation.
This year, the Crossing welcomes all to a worship space redesigned for the 21st century and better equipped to serve a diverse congregation and community. Like the original church, this new center is built on a solid and enduring foundation of faith and community service as it strives to be a home where everyone is welcome and lifelong relationships are born.
As timing would have it, the church was able to adjust its original construction plans to incorporate the latest in health and safety technology. The church is following all CDC recommended social distancing protocols and encourages preregistration for all services.
Worship Services at the Crossing take place on Saturday night and Sunday morning, as well as online. Additional information on service times and church programs can be found on the church’s website: crossingumc.org.