February 26, 2021

It’s been encouraging over the last few weeks to see the number of Covid cases decreasing both in Oconee County and nationwide.  This can be attributed to a couple of factors.  First, more people have gotten Covid so this is pushing us closer to the herd immunity (something that at least one expert predicted we will reach by the end of April.  Who knows??).  And of course, the vaccine has certainly helped move us in this direction.  Now as we witness the decline in the number of Covid cases, this obviously doesn’t mean that the pandemic is over.  The reality is that Covid will be with us for quite some time – maybe even years (just like the seasonal flu).  But it does help us to breathe a little easier and not be as uptight or fearful about catching this virus.  And hopefully, the fact that things are moving in the right direction will encourage more people to return to church and resume worshiping in person.  I’m so glad that we have been able to stream our worship services, but as you well-know, there’s nothing like being with God’s people and worshiping Him together.

Last week we saw an uptick in the number of people who came to our worship services and that was exciting.  It’s still not crowded, but as more of our people are vaccinated, we will see those numbers grow.  We still want to be considerate of one another in both services and not make anyone feel uncomfortable by how we interact with them.  But if you are still a little gun-shy about being around people, then let me encourage you to consider coming to the 9:00 am service.  We only had 45 people in this service last week, so there is plenty of room to spread out.  And remember, you are free to wear a mask if that makes you feel a little safer

Now I realize that some may not yet feel comfortable returning to church and we certainly respect that.  We will continue streaming the service and you can continue to join us online.  But I would like for you to ask yourself this:  At what point will I feel comfortable going back to church?  What conditions will have to be met?  As I mentioned earlier, Covid will in all probability be around for a long time, so if you wait till it’s completely gone, you will be worshiping online for some time.  And keep in mind that there are no guarantees when it comes to Covid.  Even with the vaccine, there is no guarantee that you will not get the virus.  So at what point do we step out and say, “God, my health and life are in your hands.  I’m going back to church – I need to be with your people – and I trust you to bring to fruition your purpose and plans for my life.”?  May God direct each of us as we seek to do His will.


January 8, 2021

I’ve said this many times over the years – when God leads someone to become a part of Crossgate, I believe that this individual is nothing more than a special gift from God.  God intends to use this person to strengthen and build up the body of Christ, and He has equipped him/her with gifts, talents, and life experiences to do this. 

There are two people in particular that God has used over the years to help make Crossgate what she is today – Don and Barbara Nilsson.  This is a couple that loves the Lord and loves His church, and they have faithfully and diligently served His church at Crossgate.  Sadly, this dear couple will be leaving us in the next few weeks to move to Florida in order to be close to their daughter and family.  I’m disappointed that we can’t give them a proper sendoff because of Covid, but I want everyone to know how much they have blessed me and Joye personally, and how much they have meant to our whole body.

Don has his PhD in Theology and taught for some 30+ years at Nyack College in New York.   Over the years, Don has taught numerous classes in our Sunday School (Christian Growth Classes)  on apologetics, Bible surveys, Eschatology; etc.  These weren’t your typical Sunday School classes.  These classes were “meaty” and challenging.  Each week there would be a 4-6 page handout of things that he would be covering.  I personally loved sitting under Don’s teaching and profited immensely from this – as did all of us.

And Barbara – what a gem!  Barbara had been a school teacher at one point, and was a master at communicating with children.  For years on end, Barbara invested in the lives of many of our children – teaching them God’s Word in a Christian Growth Class or Kids’ Worship.  And when Barbara taught, whether it was one or two children or fifteen, she would always put her heart and soul into preparation.  She definitely made an impact on many of our children.

There is so much more that I could say about them.  I realize that some of you never had the privilege of getting to know them, but I wanted everyone to know that what you experience at Crossgate today is, in part, because of these two gifts from God and how faithfully they have served us.

Don and Barbara – from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the whole church family at Crossgate, thank you for loving Jesus and loving us!  We love you and pray that God would continue to bless you and use you to build and beautify His Bride!


December 31, 2020

As you all know, Christmas is a time for us to reflect on and celebrate God’s amazing love to us – a love that was demonstrated some 2000 years ago when Jesus took on flesh and blood and became like us so that He could rescue us from the kingdom of darkness and bring us into His own kingdom of Light.  What a blessing it is to be a part of this eternal kingdom – to know the King, not only as our Sovereign Lord but also as our Heavenly Father.  And not only do we get experience this close relationship with God, we also get to experience a closeness with others who are a part of this kingdom – brothers and sisters in Christ who have also been rescued and redeemed.

I’m especially thankful for the family of God that meets at Crossgate.  It has been a privilege to minister to and with you over the past year.  It’s been a crazy year, for sure, but even in the midst of the craziness, God has been working to build His church and glorify His name.  

This past week, the Session (Elders) gave me and the staff of Crossgate a monetary gift as a Christmas present from you, the congregation. I have to tell you that I was blown away by your generosity, and touched by your love for us.  So I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of the whole church staff, for your kindness and generosity to us.  All of us count it a privilege to be able to serve at Crossgate and to work alongside of you in order to advance God’s kingdom.

As we move into the New Year, I’m excited about what the Lord has in store for all of us, individually and as a body.  Of course, none of us knows exactly how things will play out in this New Year, but we can be confident that God will be working in and through us to make Himself known as the Savior of the world.  I hope each of you have a blessed New Year, and pray that 2021 will be a year in which you will experience a growing intimacy with God that will fill your life with His joy and peace!


November 20, 2020

Well, the holiday season is upon us – Thanksgiving next week, and then just four weeks later is Christmas.  Where has the time gone?  Of course, this year is so different thanks to Covid19.  That are a lot of people who are still trying to figure out what they need to be doing for Christmas and with whom.  They certainly know what they want to do – who doesn’t want to be with family?  But given the spike in Covid cases around the country, should they risk being exposed to this virus or should they just hunker down in their own home and enjoy (or endure) a quiet (and lonely) Christmas? 

Well, in the same way that some of you have struggled with knowing what to do for Christmas, we have also done some struggling at church.  We certainly know what we want to do – that’s not the issue.  The question is – what should we try to do given the pandemic?  What will be best for the health and well-being of our church family?  After wrestling with this, we have decided two things.  First of all, we will NOT have our annual Christmas party.  I know – that’s a bummer.  This has always been a special time for us to be together as a church family – a festive occasion that is always fun and encouraging.  But it’s just not wise for us to be gathering together in a big group at this point.  So, sorry – the Christmas Party will have to wait another year.  The second thing we have decided is that we will NOT be having a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service either.  These services have historically been attended by a lot of folks from outside the church – folks who are in town visiting their family.   The last thing in the world we want to do is expose someone to Covid19 at Christmas time.  I know that some of you will be disappointed because this has been a big part of your Christmas tradition, but I think everyone would agree that these measures are necessary given these strange times in which we live.

So, yes – Christmas will be different this year.  But hopefully this will not diminish our joy one iota as we celebrate the miracle of the incarnation.  Just think – the almighty, sovereign God took on flesh and blood so that we might live eternally with HimThis is what Christmas is all about and this is the source of our joy – something that not even a pandemic can take away from us!


November 6, 2020

Well, the election is finally over – well, kinda.  Who knows how long it will be before we actually know who won the presidential election?  I know that it “seems” that Biden has won;  he’s certainly getting close to that magic number of 270.  And if he does win, then we need to begin praying for him as Scripture tells us to do.  But to be honest, I’m not throwing in the towel yet and not ready to concede.  God has a way of showing up in the eleventh hour – when all hope seems to be lost.  I think of the Israelites when they came to the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was breathing down their backs.  God provided an escape in just the nick of time.  So, I will continue praying about this election until a winner is declared, and then I will pray for the winner, whoever it is.

But even as we are in the throes of this election cycle, let me remind you that the solution to all the societal ills that we face today is not going to be found in politics.  Politics can only do so much.  But one thing it can’t do is change the hearts of people, and that, of course, is the source of all our problems.  Racism, sexism, greed, lawlessness, etc – all stem from hearts that are darkened by sin and in rebellion against God.  If we really want to see permanent changes take place in our culture, we need to be as enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel as millions have been about their political candidate.  We need to understand that it is the Gospel of Jesus that is the power of God unto salvation and it is that power that is able to radically change the hearts of people.

So regardless of who wins the election, our mission doesn’t really change.  If you are a true disciple of Jesus, God has entrusted to you the responsibility and privilege of sharing the Good News with those around you and doing so you can help change the world.  Millions of Christians have been praying about this election for months now.  Now that the election is over (or just about) we need to continue praying for our leaders, but more importantly, for a great harvest of souls – for true revival to break out in our churches, homes and in our country.  God is on His throne and continuing to work to build and establish His church, and we have the awesome privilege of joining Him in this work.  Te Deum Gloria!!


October 2, 2020

Well, as the pandemic lingers on – and will probably be with us for months to come – I hope that you are taking advantage of this unique opportunity to go deeper in your walk with the Lord.  That is what trials do; this is why the Lord allows us to go through difficult times.  It is in times like these, that God exposes the sin in our hearts – the self-centeredness, the complacency,  the grumbling spirit, the lack of love for God and others, etc.  And of course, when He exposes these sinful attitudes and convicts us of our sin, we have the opportunity to confess these to Him and turn from them (repent).  This is how we get to know God better and develop a greater intimacy with Him.  This is how we grow in personal holiness.

Covid-19 has challenged all of us in a lot of different ways.  Certainly, no one enjoys living under the ominous cloud of this virus.  All of us are eager to put this pandemic behind us and get on with our lives.  But the reality is that it is here now and will be with us for the next little  while – so the question is, will we squander this opportunity to grow spiritually or will we make the most of this challenging time so that once the pandemic is history, our faith in the Lord is stronger and more vibrant than ever before?

If this is to happen, you will need to fight against spiritual lethargy – allowing yourself to become spiritually “blah” as you coast along until circumstances change and things get back to normal.     Coasting can be fun and relaxing if you’re riding a bike.  But coasting spiritually is a recipe for disaster.  When you coast you are not putting forth any effort to grow spiritually – to get with other believers, to read and study your Bible on a regular basis, to devote yourself to prayer, to serve others, etc.  In other words, you are simply giving in to the lusts of your flesh – feeding that sin nature which only weakens you spiritually.  Covid-19 has provided a lot of cover for people who want to do this.  Be careful that you don’t fall into this trap.  Purpose that, by God’s grace, you will grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ during this challenging time and you will emerge from this pandemic more in love with the Lord and committed to His work. 


Our NEW Small Group Ministry

A number of you have asked about our Focus Groups and whether or not we would be starting these up again.  I know that everyone has missed the community that we enjoyed in these groups prior to the pandemic.  Covid-19 has certainly forced us to think a little differently about ministry and how we approach it.  We’ve certainly had to make some changes on Sunday morning, and now we are going to be tweaking the way we do small groups.  We believe the changes that we are making will not only provide a little more safety and security, but also promote a deeper level of fellowship with one another.  Here’s the plan in a nutshell:

  • The new groups will be called Community Groups because the focus will be developing community within the body of Christ (one of our core values)
  • The groups will be smaller – from 6-10 people (10 being the Max)
  • The groups will have a lot of flexibility in terms of when and where they meet.  Some may meet weekly, every other week, etc.  Can meet at night, during the day, etc.
  • We can have virtual groups if the need/desire is there.
  • The Facilitator of the group will invite people to meet with him.  
  • Each person in the group will be asked to prepare for the meeting by reflecting on what God has been doing in his/her life in the past week, and by reading a passage of Scripture that the group will be discussing.
  • These groups will meet for a specific period of time (thru November?) and then will form new groups at the first of the year.

We need to know if you are interested in being a part of a group like this.  If you are, PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK AND GIVE US THE INFO WE NEED.  Someone will contact you about being in their group.


July 31, 2020

September 26, 2020!!  Mark that date on your calendar!  Now I know you are wondering what is so special about that day?  Here is what is happening.  God has raised up a group of people who are leading a “Global Day of Repentance and Prayer” for our nation.  Christians from all over will converge on the Washington Mall to participate in this, and those who are not able to attend will be able to participate in this via simulcast. 

My brothers and sisters in Christ – I’m sure that you sense, as I do, that our nation is at a crossroads.  We are nearing the “point of no return” – where, if God does not intervene in some way, we could very well see the America that we have known and love become a relic of the past.  I believe as many do, that the only way to avert our demise as a nation, is for us to humble ourselves before the Lord and repent of our evil ways.  We must do exactly what the nation of Nineveh did in the days of Jonah, and all of this must begin with the people of God, His Church. 

I want you to go to the website:  thereturnwebsite.org and watch the short video of what is being planned.  I have signed up for us as a church to host the simulcast on September 26th,  so I hope you will make plans to be a part of this.  We desperately need a Revival in our nation!  We desperately need God to step in and do what no man can do!  I believe that if we will join with fellow believers in this community and around the country and call out to God for mercy – even as the Ninevites did – He will hear us and He will answer our prayers.  There is so much at stake here!  Let’s not let apathy and complacency keep us from doing our part! 

Remember – Go to www.thereturnwebsite.org  and watch this short video.


Goodbye with Thanks

Firstly, I want to thank God for bringing me to Crossgate. Like many others, I came here hesitantly. As a young man who could trace his Baptist roots into the 18th century, I entered every non-Baptist church with caution, and Crossgate was not an exception. However, the cautious wall was no match against the warm heart of Crossgate. Quickly, Crossgate began to feel like a home, made this Baptist wonder what he had been missing for so many years, and put the hesitant heart at ease. At Crossgate, God began to show me how a church is supposed to be, how a church can be a beacon of light and unity while standing firm on the Word of God, on the Cornerstone, the Stone of Stumbling. At Crossgate, God taught me the importance of the preaching of His Word, the administering of the sacraments, and church discipline. God has shown me the density of His Word and to never take it for granted, recognizing its immeasurable depth. He has shown me that the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is more than just a symbol but that it is nourishing to the soul, that it is something that should be done regularly. Finally, God has shown me the importance of church discipline, something that I did not see growing up and can thank our church for greatly. I have seen that pursuing after knowledge, righteousness, and holiness is something that must be done as a body, under the leadership of elders and the ultimate leadership of Christ. I have seen the joy that comes from piety. I thank God for these lessons and the many more that He used Crossgate Church to teach me.

Secondly, I want to thank you, elders, deacons, and laymen, for submitting to the triune God and His communication through Scripture, seeking to believe what we are to believe concerning God and to do the duty He requires of us. In this church, I have seen exemplified the call of the Gospel: repent and believe. In many churches, one of those is treated as more important than the other. Some bodies only talk about believing with no real out working of that belief into repentance. Some bodies only talk about repentance, hammering in works with no hope. However, at Crossgate, I have seen a God-honoring balance, that faith is to work out into repentance of the hands, heart, and head. Thank you for being a church of truth, seeking to honor God in all facets of life, in thought, word, and deed.

Thirdly, I want to thank you for letting me serve the youth. I know that I have been far from perfect, and I can look at many times where I could have done better. In spite of this, you let me serve, recognizing that God can use a crooked stick to strike straight. Thank you for this opportunity. I have enjoyed it greatly.

Finally, I want to now discuss my departure. Starting in August, Amaris and I will no longer be attending Crossgate. In order to care for my family, which will, Lord willing, be growing soon, we will be moving to Duncan, South Carolina, where I have received a job to teach science in a public school starting this Fall. We have found a church called Antioch Presbyterian Church (PCA), which we will be attending, but Crossgate will always have a special place in our hearts, recognizing it as such a formative time in our lives.
In Christ, 
Lucas McKown


July 24, 2020

I mentioned last Sunday that we would resume celebrating the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of each month, beginning August 2nd. We will be doing a couple of things differently so as to protect everyone as best we can.  The first thing we will do is have those who prepare the elements wear latex gloves and masks.  We will also have the servers do the same.  We will not be passing the plates as we have traditionally done, so only the servers will be touching them with their gloves on.  The servers will walk down each row and those who want to receive the elements will hold the palm of their hand up and the server will place the element in their hands.

One other thing that we will do for those who feel a little uncomfortable in a gathering where everyone isn’t wearing a mask – during the 10:45 service, we will use the youth room (in the building behind the main church) for overflow and everyone who comes to this gathering will be required to wear a mask.  The service will be watched on YouTube, but then the sacrament will be observed with a server distributing the elements in the same way we’re doing in the main building.

We have all missed having the Lord’s Supper, and so we hope that in taking these measures, more folks will be encouraged to come out and celebrate this sacrament with us – one that not only depicts our union with Christ, but also our union with each other in the body of Christ.